Audi TT RS Coupe — Wickedly fast and technologically advanced

By Jim Prueter

(September 11, 2018) With an MSRP of nearly $80K as tested, the new-for-2018 high-performance TT RS is an expensive vehicle, dropped into a competitive set that includes notable sports cars like the Porsche Cayman and Boxster, Chevy Corvette, Jaguar F-Type, Alfa Romeo 4C and others. Let me tell you why it not only might be worth the big bucks, but also why it might be the best pick in the lot.

For 2018, the TT RS is the latest from a long line of the high-performance five-cylinder turbocharged sports cars with heritage dating back to 1980. More powerful than its predecessors, the all-new 2.5-liter TFSI five-cylinder engine connected to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch paddleshift automatic transmission bangs out 400-horsepower and 354 lb-ft. of torque to the standard quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.

Dropping all that power into an aerodynamic coupe that weighs in at just a tick over 3,200 lbs., and you have one seriously fast sports car. The RS launches from zero to 60 mph in a class-leading 3.6 seconds, and achieves a top track speed of 174 mph with the $6,000 optional Dynamic plus package. And, with the launch control feature engaged, you might just beat that zero-to-60 time. Further, I tested the feature and firmly confirm it works as advertised. Also know that you cannot get a manual transmission.

Now for the first time, the quattro all-wheel drive – riding on the optional 20-inch anthracite forged wheels with 255/35 summer performance tires — is fully integrated within the Audi Drive Select system which offers four distinct drive modes: comfort, auto, dynamic and individual. Each of the various modes allows the driver to change gear shift points, steering, throttle response and damper control, which continues to define steering weight and drivetrain responses.

Press the red starter button in the center of the steering wheel, and the 400-horespower fires up with a seductively glorious, snarling pop-bang-growl sound delivered through the optional black-tipped sport exhaust system.

As mentioned, immediate acceleration firmly pushes you back in the well-sculpted seats. And, the power continues well past the 11.5 second 129 mph quarter mile run.

We drove our test RS-equipped with the optional Dynamic Plus package that deletes the Audi magnetic ride in favor of the RS fixed sport suspension. That setup can transform mere mortals (especially automotive journalists) into competent drivers well beyond their dynamic driving limits, thanks to engineering technology. On wickedly twisty mountain roads in rural Arizona, the RS easily ripped out of curves at full throttle, into and out of high-speed esses or deep braking sections effortlessly.

This intervention can nearly convince a novice driver that they’ve actually developed supernatural driving skills. I was grateful for it all, but quickly lost the glow and attitude when my next test car, a Kia Rio arrived to swap me out of the RS.

The RS feels absolutely rock solid from behind the wheel, but with the optional suspension that includes stiffer shocks, higher-rate springs, heavier rear anti-roll bar you pay the price with a ride quality that almost beats the occupants into submission. We suggest passing on the suspension option unless you really plan on spending a lot of time at the track.

As dynamic and sculptured as the RS is on the outside, inside it’s even more captivating. The materials and build quality are exceptional and it’s loaded with state-of-the-art technology. It’s one of the few vehicles I can recall that doesn’t come with an operational screen on the center stack. Rather, it’s equipped with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit 12.3-inch instrument display screen that delivers a palette of vibrant color at 50 frames per second with a NVIDIA quad core processor. A unique screen displays information on tire pressure, torque and g-forces. When a defined engine speed is reached, the colored background of the scale prompts the driver to upshift via the steering wheel paddle or selector level.

The optional Technology package on our RS upgraded the operational systems with Audi’s MMI navigation plus with touch interfacing that displays incredible 3D detailing. The package also includes Audi smartphone interface providing Apple CarPlay and Goggle Android Auto integration, Audi connect supported by 4G LTE for traffic info, weather, fuel prices, Apple Siri Eyes Free integration, an upgraded Bang & Olufsen audio system and more. Most of these functions can be controlled on the steering wheel, although you can also use voice commands or the console-mounted controller.

Interior styling is nothing short of brilliant and tarted up with the optional RS design package and carbon-fiber inlay. Our leather seats were diamond-stitched in red contrast and the steering wheel is lifted from the Audi R8 supercar and trimmed with Alcantra right where you place your hands.

Interior detailing was particularly inventive, like the three propeller inspired air-vents whose twist knobs are actually functional by housing controllers for the entire HVAC system, fan and temperature adjustments. It also took us a while to locate the heated seat button that’s part of the outer most air vent. Ditto for directing airflow — that’s part of the outer bezel.

While front seats are exceptionally comfortable and had ample legroom for my 6-6 height, the TT is the only competitor in this class with a back seat. It takes a lot of liberty in making that declaration, since it’s barely suitable for even very small children or packages at best.

The TT RS comes standard with eight airbags, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring, front and rear parking sensors. Because of the sloping roof design of the coupe, rearward visibility is minimal and we highly recommend equipping it with the optional blind spot monitoring system.

Typically, upscale sports cars — including the TT, Alfa Romeo 4C, Porsche, Corvette and others — do not undergo crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Overall, the TT RS offers buyers an excellent luxury sports car with a brilliant, comfortable interior, elegant styling and state-of-the-art advanced technology. And unlike competitors in this class, it does have a rear seat albeit an incredibly small one. There’s ample power for heavy-footed drivers and handling is superb, but the ride can be punishing and tiring over time. The RS is every bit a driver’s car.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $64,900
Price as Tested: $79,625
Powerplant: 2.5-Liter inline five-cylinder 400 turbocharged horsepower with a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Fuel Economy: 19-MPG City – 29-MPG Highway – 22-MPG Combined
Seating: 2-adults, 2-children

Crash Test Results: The Audi TT RS has not been crash tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Final Assembly Location: Gynor, Hungary

Competes With:
Alfa Romeo 4C
Chevrolet Corvette
Jaguar F-Type
Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Cayman

Fab Features
Seriously fast
Excellent handling
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit