Next week will see the debut of a new Audi RS3. There's plenty to be encouraged by, too, with the fitment of a torque vectoring rear axle, the saloon on offer once more and 180mph potential. Perhaps the best bit of spec news so far, however, is the retention of the 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo; given it first emerged in 2009, that the engine can survive without electrification - or even being swapped for four cylinders - is good news indeed.
Back in the late 2000s, the then all-new engine made its debut in the TT RS. After a decade on sale the Audi coupe finally had a proper flagship, with 340hp and 332lb ft ensuring huge performance. Even at almost 1,500kg, a TT RS could reach 62mph in just 4.5 seconds. That was with a manual gearbox, too, as there wasn't a DSG in the range back then that could deal with the torque. So, yes, this was an RS Audi that launched with a standard manual gearbox. It may well have been the last, in fact.
Inevitably a dual-clutch arrived in time, and became the more popular gearbox choice. So much so, in fact, that the TT RS was the only Audi offered in the UK that paired the five-cylinder with six speeds; everything since - RS Q3, RS3 and so on - has been DSG-only. Which makes manual TTs like this one quite interesting.
Yes, the gearbox has been known to have some synchro issues, and the shift quality won't match a Cayman's, but what a treat it'll be to have manual control over that engine. A decade ago, neither the transmission nor the engine looked under much threat, and now look where we are. A TT RS is never going to be the most engaging sports car ever, though this configuration will always guarantee a certain level of intrigue.
Particularly in such a nice spec. Without the fixed wing of an RS Plus and in a fairly muted blue - with silver wheels, too! - this one looks a pleasingly discreet way of enjoying the RS experience. It's notable as a 2012 car still with the manual, as the majority will surely have been optioned with the auto by that point. With 70,000 miles recorded, it's for sale at £20,000.
Which looks quite a lot, doesn't it? You aren't alone in thinking that. But it says much of the regard in which the engine is held that nothing powered by it costs much less. Even with six-figure mileages, an RS3 is £17,500 and a TT RS cabrio almost £15k. But if ever an engine was worth paying a premium for, the 2.5 is it - as new RS3 customers will soon find out.
SPECIFICATION | AUDI TT RS
Engine: 2,480cc, five-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 340@5,400-6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 332@1,600rpm-5,300rpm
Year registered: 2012
Recorded mileage: 71,000
Price new: £42,985 (2009)
Yours for: £20,000
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