Review and road test of the Audi TT RS (2009 - 2014)
By Andy Enright
The Audi TT RS at first seems that most overt of things; a coupe or convertible with a hugely powerful 2.5-litre turbocharged engine and quattro all-wheel drive. Despite that, it's appeal is a lot subtler. So nuanced is the buyer proposition that it has managed to go over the heads of many who see the TT RS as nothing but a blunt implement. It's anything but and as a used buy it makes a lot of sense.
3dr coupe, 2dr roadster (2.5 petrol [RS plus])
The TT RS followed on the heels of the TTS, the first of the go-faster second generation TT models. First shown at the 2009 Geneva Show, the TT RS was powered by a 2.5-litre inline five-cylinder engine good for 340PS. This made it by far the quickest production TT to date and it was offered in coupe and roadster guises with a choice of either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed S-tronic twin-clutch sequential.
In 2012 the TT RS plus was introduced. This featured an increased 360PS power output and a top speed delimiter and arrived just in time to spike the guns of Porsche's third-generation Boxster and Cayman models.
What You Get
If the sound of the TT RS doesn't convince the world at large that here's a two-seater Audi with serious intent, the sight of one should. The front air-intakes yawn, the wheelarches bulge and the dramatic rear spoiler gives startled bystanders something to remember it by as it hurtles off up the road. Audi hasn't gone too far in pumping the RS full of aggression but customers who'd prefer to retain the classically truncated TT rear end can swap the fixed spoiler for one that only pops its head over the parapet when deployed by a button on the dash.
Audi has got slick interiors down to a fine art and the TT RS employs the alloy pedals, flat-bottomed steering wheel and RS-branded leather sports seats that we've become used to seeing on the quickest cars in the brand's stable. There are also additional displays in the Driver's Information System for boost pressure and oil temperature, while a lap timer is also included.
The RS plus got more equipment fitted as standard, including satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone preparation and Audi Music Interface iPod connection, all of which form part of the normally optional Technology Package. Suddenly the value proposition doesn't look at all bad.
The Roadster model when new was pitched around £5,000 more than a Porsche Boxster S, but when you consider the amount of standard equipment Audi gave original buyers as well as the additional power of the TT RS plus, it wasn't really bad value at all.
What to Look For
The engine in the RS is one of the most bulletproof of any performance car, with chain-driven camshafts and a strong transmission mated to it. The air conditioning and engine coolant pumps are belt driven but the belts are lifetime items with no maintenance requirement. The fourth-generation Haldex differential is another reliable thing. Check the wheels for signs of kerbing and if you can find a car with the optional Magnetic Ride dampers fitted, you enjoy a bit more flexibility in the way it drives. Check the hood mechanism on the roadster and check the hood material for discolouration. The RS can be quite heavy on front tyres if driven hard, so check to see if the fronts have any life left in them and negotiate accordingly.
(approx based on a 2010 2.5 RS Coupe) Audi consumables once had a reputation for costliness, but whilst they are a bit pricier than Ford or Vauxhall, spares are by no means exorbitant. An air filter costs in the region of £75, whilst a fuel filter is £25 and an oil filter £35. A set of spark plugs will be around £90. Tyres for the TT RS cost in the region of £140 per corner for a Continental Sport Contact 5 or £225 for something a bit more focused such as the Goodyear Eagle F1 Super.
On the Road
The desire for a TT RS presented Audi with an engine problem. In development, the 3.2-litre V6 FSI powerplant was the obvious choice for this model, with plenty of power but so much weight that when positioned over the front wheels of the little TT, it would have sapped the car's agility. It was for that reason that the next variant down in the second generation TT performance line-up, the sporty TT S, was developed with the excellent and ubiquitous 2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged engine, uprated to deliver a buzzing 272PS. With the 3.2 V6 something of a dynamic albatross, that turbo four-cylinder unit approaching the end of its tuning tether and Audi loath to assign its hallowed RS badge lightly, heads must have been scratched at Ingolstadt.
Eventually, they arrived at a classic compromise, a specially designed turbocharged five-cylinder engine in the mould of those that powered the Audi quattro road cars of the Eighties. Power is rated at 340PS, torque of 450Nm is available from 1,600rpm all the way to 5,300rpm and 0-60mph in the TT RS Coupe takes 4.6s. This TT demands respect.
The Audi TT RS is a vehicle that makes a lot of sense as a used buy for a model of this kind. Although residual values have held firm, it's a sports car that shrugs off its miles well and is a lot more liveable than its prodigious power output would suggest. In fact, on a day to day basis, the TT RS might well better rivals from Porsche that are often deemed superior driver's machines. Which one would you rather be in when the warranty had expired? The sensible money would go on the Audi every time.
Audi TT RS (2009 - 2014) review by Andy Enright