TT RS – does Audi know best?


After a nice time with the fantastic TT RS we wonder which market it was aimed at

It’s divided opinion, this one.

Since the first two articles on this car my social media has been filled with comments suggesting the TT RS isn’t a sports car and isn’t worth the money that is being asked for it. The people that made these comments certainly have a point, but are these views perhaps a little old-fashioned?

Don’t get me wrong, the TT RS certainly has to answer for some of its drawbacks. That layout – with the 5-cylinder engine mounted over the front wheels – does it absolutely no favours at all and there can be no doubt the Quattro AWD system would be a pain in the arse out on the circuit. Really what Audi has done with this car is make the very best of a bad situation, and believe me when I say it’s nothing short of brilliant. You get a real sense of poise – a sense that simply shouldn’t be there – and the car feels really rather confident for something that’s supposed to be laid out all wrong. Between you, the powertrain, and the steering there is a real bond – this isn’t a car you’re going to jump into and feel intimidated by, despite those 400 horses patiently waiting to be deployed under your right foot. Audi has made this car like it has made all of its performance cars – accessible and a really welcoming machine that can appeal to a driver of pretty much any skill level – and when you think about what the car is capable of, that’s actually a notable achievement.

It can take years to really sort out the way a car handles – just ask Porsche how long it took to really get to grips with the 911 – but Audi has actually sorted out the TT pretty quickly, learning from the clumsy roll of the Mk.1, and the disappointingly flat and slightly chubby feeling Mk.2. The Mk.3 TT RS feels like a product that has absorbed all of the knowledge gained from previous models and the general criticism of Audi driving characteristics of cars past. It is a highly accomplished road car, to deny that would be ridiculous. In the end, we can talk all day about which cars are faster on a circuit, the layout of a true sports car, understeer at the limit, but I’m sorry, none of that actually matters when you’re out on the road -and like it or not, that’s where you spend 90% of your time when you own a sports car.

All of that leaves us on the cusp of a verdict, a final paragraph or two in which the TT RS is summed up and despatched with a gold star, right? Well, not quite yet because there’s something else we need to talk about. Audi hasn’t really given us what we want – it has given us what it thinks we need. It has created an undoubtedly brilliant road car from a position of disadvantage with the TT RS, sure, but if it had built the new TT in a more focused way from the get-go, perhaps it could have been even better. Perhaps it would have been a world-beater. Audi has now got the most entertaining and charismatic engine in the class with the 5-cylinder unit, so it would be great to see it put to use in a car that would play entirely to its strengths. Will that ever happen though?

For now, Audi seems entirely focused on giving us what it thinks is best for us, rather than something die-hard petrol-heads really want.

You’ll have your own views on that, but personally, I adored the TT RS and for now I can’t help but be left with the feeling that maybe Audi just knows best.