Auto Express drives the 2016 Audi TT RS

With the first-generation Audi TT RS, the automotive world only got a tease of what Audi was capable of. While that car’s turbocharged 2.5 liter five-cylinder engine was excellent and sounded fantastic, the chassis and dynamics couldn’t quite match its enthusiasm. Its steering was numb and its chassis was bland, far to often resorting to understeer. It just couldn’t quite match the sort of driving dynamics that made cars like the Porshce Cayman so great.

However, Audi is back with a new TT RS and it’s far improved over the car it replaces. Is it as good as a Porsche 718 Cayman? Maybe not, but Auto Express was able to drive the Audi TT RS is Spain and it seems to be a tempting alternative.

It all starts with the engine. The 2.5 liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine remains, but Audi has made it both more powerful and lighter than before. Switching to an aluminum crankcase, rather than a cast iron one, the new five-pot is considerably lighter than before. Audi has also managed to squeeze more power out of it, making 495 hp now. When paired with the brand’s now-famous seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox, the Audi TT RS is good for 0-60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. That’s supercar territory.

But it isn’t just the speed and performance that makes the TT RS fun to drive. The noise helps a lot, too. That five-cylinder engine is one of the best sounding engines on the market today. It’s always sounded great, such as in the RS3, but it sounds better than ever. It’s one thing the TT RS definitely has over the Porsche 718 Cayman, whose new turbocharged four-cylinder engine sounds more like a blow-dryer than an engine.

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The Audi TT RS is actually fun when the road gets twisty, as well. Where the last car just felt numb and sloppy, this new car is sharp and dynamic. While it still can’t match the mid-engine Cayman, the new TT RS is still a very fun car to drive. Its steering is much improved and actually has some real accuracy and tactility to it. It’s still pretty numb, so it’s been said, but it’s sharp. While the chassis will resort to understeering when pushed to its limits, a slow approach and powerful exit help to quell that.

Audi TT RS Coupé

Its Quattro all-wheel drive grip and monster torque allow the TT RS to simply fire out of corners. While it doesn’t have the grace of a Porsche Cayman, or even a BMW M2, it’s properly quick and would almost certainly be faster than both around a track, thanks to its tenacious grip and mega power.

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But don’t think the new Audi TT RS is just a hardcore track car that is compromised on the road. While it isn’t as squishy as a standard Audi TT on the road, it’s more comfortable than one might expect. The suspension is compliant, if a bit firm, but good enough to live with on a daily basis. Its seats are superb as is the interior, but we already knew that.

Audi TT RS Coupé

Overall, the new Audi TT RS seems to be a success. It builds on the strengths of the outgoing car (power, performance, sound) and fixes most of its issues (bad steering, sloppy chassis, torrential understeer). While it still does understeer at the limit and isn’t the scalpel that the Porsche Cayman is, it’s better than ever before. Plus, its new engine has more character than the Cayman’s and it’s certainly faster. The new Audi TT RS isn’t perfect but, then again, sports cars aren’t supposed to be. The new TT RS is exciting, dynamic and fast, all wrapped in a good looking and stylish package.

CategoriesTT RS
Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.