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15 Jun 2010

Desperately seeking … Quattro: Audi TT-RS

Somewhere deep inside the sub-consciousness minds of Audi’s engineers, they have been desperately seeking for a replacement car for the ur-Quattro coupé circa 1980; a car that took Audi to the pinnacle of rallying motor sports and keys to the premium car-dom. 

Make: Audi

Model: TT-RS coupé

Release Date: April 2010

Price: SGD$285,000

During the vast expansion years in the early 90’s, Audi dropped charismatic five-cylinder engines and coupés from their line-up. For years, Audi offered us high-performance, low volume RS-badged models based on estate/sedan bodies; the 1992 RS2 Avant (a joint effort with Porsche) and two generations of RS4 and RS6. Each had a monstrous engine and you guessed it; four-wheel drive.

Here, we have the first RS-badged sports car in the form of the TT-RS, available in both coupé and roadster. And when Audi bills this car as homage to the iconic ur-quattro – our expectations were placed a little higher.

Initially, we had doubts as the origin of the engine was a US-market Volkswagen engine. But, Audi took it back to the drawing board and with the combination of direct injection and turbocharging; the bespoken 2.5-litre churns out a massive 335bhp between 5400 and 6500rpm and 450Nm of torque between 1600 and 5300rpm.

That’s enough to take the 1450 kg TT-RS coupé from 0 to 100km/h in 4.6 secs; on par with the R8 4.2 V8 supercar. It is also good for efficiency as the manufacturer claims average fuel consumption of 9.2 litre per 100 km. To handle the massive amount of torque, the only transmission available for now is a six-speed manual (nicked from the Volkswagen Transporter van…ahem). For the die hard single-footed drivers, fear not, a dual clutch gearbox is on the way.

The TT-RS certainly deserves the RS badge as it feels like a sledgehammer. Its quattro four-wheel drive traction gives the driver the confidence to go heavy on the throttle on any road conditions. And because torque is capped from just 1600rpm its responses are almost equally urgent regardless of where the tacho needle is pointing.

The furious spur into high speeds is backed by an equally impressive stopping power as the brakes are now a massive 370mm at the front and 310mm at the back. But beyond the performance, the TT-RS falls a bit short.

We were surprised to find the ride quality to be good, the steering is sharp if slightly anaesthetized and the brakes are suitably quick reacting and hard. Even though Audi claims that the haldex unit is capable of transferring 100% of torque to the rear wheels, in practice, the TT-RS feels just like a front wheel drive car, but with exceptionally high amount of traction. In short, the TT-RS coupé has a thoroughly competent chassis, just lacking the final touches to match a Porsche Cayman S.

The “loudest” bits over lesser TTs would belong to the exhaust note, as the visual upgrades are few; bigger front intakes, flared sills, 19 alloys and RS badging on the callipers, the nose and the boot. Probably the fixed rear wing would be biggest clue to the fact that you have shelled out SGD$285,000.

Oddly, the interior of the TT-RS is beginning to show signs of ageing, even though it has to be said that it is still exceptionally well built. Four years on since the launch of the second generation TT, Audi interiors have moved on to another level. For instance, the missing MMI interface has left the TT-RS seeming bare. Of note, potential TT-RS buyers should splurge an additional SGD$4,800 on the excellent bucket sports.

While we are publishing this article, we have the TT-RS roadster sitting in the Fridae garage. For sure, the glorious sounding turbocharged in-line five engine’s note is more pronounced but the balance of the roadster is most certainly affected with the lost of rigidity and additional weight.

We came away feeling that the TT-RS coupé feels very much like the RS6 which we tested last year; relentless performance but slightly dull in feedback. But hey, who can argue with this angry, hardcore little coupé as it covers the grounds at such a frightening pace?

Engine 2,480cc inline-5 20-valves DOHC, Turbocharged
Transmission six-speed manual
Wheels Driven All
Max. Power 340bhp @ 5400-6000 rpm
Max. Torque 450Nm @ 1600-5300rpm
0-100 km/h 4.6 sec
Top speed 250 (limited)
Fuel Economy 9.2 litres per 100km
CO2 Emissions 214 g/km
Dimensions (L x W x H) / Weight 4198mm X 1842mm X 1342mm /1450kg
Price with COE* SGD$285,000

Reader's Comments

1. 2010-06-16 23:40  
wow, great review I most certainly now have renewed my crush on Audi and Linus' car reviews
2. 2010-06-20 08:11  
3. 2010-06-23 11:52  
I'm planning a move to Malaysia next year and can import a new car (Audi of course!) duty-free under the MM2H Scheme. Does anyone have any experience of this? I have been warned that the Traffic department are very corrupt, and could demand 'contributions' from me before they will allow me to register it... :-(

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