PH finally drives the RS on UK roads, but is the meaty TT a bit too tough?
Solid. This is the word that defines the new Audi TT RS, but it is as much a criticism as it is a compliment.
The doors open and close with a weighty thud. The switchgear, major controls and general construction of the cabin are seriously substantial. The looks, it’s probably fair to say, are on the sirloin steak side of meaty. And that 335bhp 2.5-litre turbocharged five-pot isn’t what you’d call a flimsy motor.
All of which is an undeniably good thing. The problem is that there’s a similarly solid feel to the way the TT RS goes down the road. There’s grip and traction in abundance, and the ride isn’t exactly what you would call crashy, but it is a bit distant.
The TT RS is a car that smothers a road, bending it to its will. Which means that the TT RS can go down even a fairly bumpy road very quickly indeed, but it will do so with none of the fluidity or finesse – the sense that the car is working with the road rather than against it – that marks out a truly great driver’s car.
We suspected as much when we tested the TT RS at Zolder and this drive, our first chance to sample the fastest-ever Audi TT on UK roads, confirms it. The TT RS is simply too uninvolving to make you want to take it out for a drive purely for the sake of it.
Look at this from an Audi TT perspective and this is not too much of a problem – TTs have always been more about the style statement (just don’t mention the H-word) and the feel of them than they have been about a Sunday morning blast. From that angle, the TT RS is a triumph. The quality of the interior, the sporty looks and the hugely accessible performance make the TT RS a great choice for a casual enthusiast.
But the original Quattro started raising the bar of expectations for genuinely fast Audis, and stuff like the last RS4 and R8 have raised Audi’s performance game still further. There are now RS-badged fast Audis out there that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with drivers' greats like the Lotus Elise or the 997 GT3RS. And, as competent as it is, the TT RS doesn’t quite make it on that level.
If the S5 or the RS6 was the dynamic pinnacle of Audi’s achievements, then the TT RS would be amazing. But we know Audi can do better and that’s why the TT – by the slightest margin – is a bit of a disappointment.
The coupe version weighs in at £42,980, whilst they'll chop the roof off for £44,880. Watch your barnet, though.