Providing more fun than anyone should have outside of a carnival midway, the Audi TT RS 2.5 Quattro Coupe is as serious as it is a blast to drive.
Audi names its cars as though the auto industry passes out gold medals for the most long-winded labels. The German carmaker could have easily stopped at Audi TT RS, and avoided any ambiguity, yet, it felt compelled to tack “2.5 Quattro Coupe” to this rocket’s moniker.
Yes, “2.5” comes from its 360-horsepower 2.5-liter five-cylinder turbocharged engine, which features all-wheel drive, or in Audi-speak, quattro; and it’s a hardtop coupe as opposed to a convertible roadster, but then so is every TT RS. In fact, there’s just one, solitary TT RS version.
Would a more compact and succinct name have us love it any less? No way!
With the exception of a $350 price boost to $57,200, a new exterior color or two, and a pair of new optional two-tone interior treatments, the TT RS returns unchanged for 2013; after all, why tinker with near perfection?
TT’s lack of rear doors, and a backseat so tight that it would give Verne Troyer pause would probably be negatives too overwhelming for left-brain shoppers to overlook. And they shouldn’t.
If you require the convenience of four doors, need to actually put people in the backseat or want to haul that new 60-inch flat-screen TV home yourself, a TT-size car simply isn’t for you.
Offering only 29 inches of rear-seat legroom and a cargo area smaller than that of a Kia Rio sedan, Audi’s TT isn’t what one would call practical. Although the luggage area will accommodate 13 cubic feet of cargo — not unreasonable for a small sports car — it limits the types of errands it can run. Of course, because the rear seat can’t really be used for anything else, the split seat back can be folded down, increasing cargo room to about 24 cubic feet.
Still, TT, even in its most vanilla form, is a car for right-brain decision makers. The TT RS? Well, it’s aimed at right-brainers with deeper pockets and a more competitive spirit.
That the TT RS target audience is narrow is probably a good thing because Audi is only bringing a few hundred into the United States for 2013.
A number of upgrades play into the roughly $18,000 price difference of the TT RS over the regular TT Coupe, not the least of which is the RS’s more powerful engine that pumps out an extra 149 horsepower. At 343 foot pounds, the RS has 85 foot pounds more peak torque than the TT Coupe.
Another reason for RS’s limited appeal: a six-speed manual transmission is the only gearbox available to power all the wheels. By Audi’s measure, it’ll scream to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 4.1 seconds, and has a top speed of 174 miles per hour. A hill-hold feature takes some of the adventure out of getting going on inclines.
Even left-brainers might be impressed by a car with the TT RS’s performance grit that can still earn an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Right-brainers will just be happy that they can streak by more gas stations.
Comprising the suspension architecture are MacPherson struts in front and a multilink setup in the rear. Also helping keep the TT RS on the straight and narrow is the adaptive damping of Audi’s magnetic ride system. Engaging the “Sport” button activates more aggressive settings for the magnetic ride as well as increasing throttle response and adjusting the exhaust for a more lively note.
Lurking behind the 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in performance rubber are disc brakes supervised by an antilock system that includes traction control, stability control, electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency braking assist.
Inside, the TT RS cabin is tasteful, carefully assembled and easy to live with. This is a car you can drive every day without condition. The sporty, flat-bottom, three-spoke tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is leather wrapped and contains redundant controls for the audio system.
Large, round, black-faced gauges with red pointers keep the driver up to date on vehicle speed, engine speed and other critical information. Highly sculpted leather-covered sport seats with ample side bolsters keep front-seat occupants securely upright even when tossing the TT RS back and forth in the twisties.
Automatic climate control, 10-way power adjustable heated front seats and heated outboard mirrors with integrated turn signals are all standard.
My test Audi had the $3,500 Technical Package. It not only replaces the stock nine-speaker audio system with a 12-speaker Bose-infused audio system with iPod interface, but adds a 6.5-inch color display, navigation system, adaptive headlights and rear parking sensors.
Whether just bopping around town or taking to the highway for an extended trip, the TT RS puts a bit of spice into the outing. Its size limits the types of errands it can run, but you can always borrow a buddy’s pickup truck for those big jobs.
Because, really, the TT RS is about the drive and not the chore.