► New Audi TT RS Roadster tested
► 5-cyl motor punches out 395bhp
► Gets from 0-62mph in just 3.9sec
The new Audi TT RS Roadster may pack a 2.5-litre motor – like the now shrunken-engined and drab-sounding Porsche 718 Boxster S – but it boasts one crucial extra – a fifth cylinder.
This one factor stands the car in good stead. With its warbling, boosty delivery and outright motive power – aided by all-wheel-drive Quattro traction – it very successfully channels the spirit of Audi’s original rally monsters. Opt for the sports exhaust for even more five-cylinder music.
Supporting this sensation is the fact the company has managed to extract a healthy 395bhp from the motor – enough to aid the TT RS in achieving an organ-compressing 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds. The question is whether chopping the top off adds to or detracts from the TT recipe.
How does the TT RS cope with decapitation?
An additional 39bhp compared with its predecessor means that the TT RS Roadster doesn’t feel like it wants for speed – despite the 90kg penalty over the Coupe. Acceleration is mighty and the prospect of just fabric or fresh air between you and the engine makes the most of the RS’s strongest suit.
The car sounds glorious with the roof down, with driver and passenger able to bathe in an equal dose of sound from both ends of the car. Put the exhaust into its Sport mode for maximum effect.
Cutting the roof off hasn’t unduly hindered the way the TT RS drives either. It feels just as planted as its fixed-roof sibling, with the suspension soaking up bumps reasonably well – while keeping the body in check well through bends.
Take on one of the UK’s more neglected B-roads, though, and the car does struggle a little to absorb quick successions of bumps – exacerbated by the 20in alloy wheels fitted.
Are the magnetic ride adaptive dampers worth the price?
Absolutely, provided you’re one of the many buyers opting for the 20in alloys. Stick with the standard wheels and you can do without the adaptive damping.
Forking out £1600 for the magnetic suspension and sports exhaust may sound steep, but the adjustable dampers not only smoothen the ride by providing much greater compliance – without harming the car’s cornering ability – but they make it feel more controlled over rough stretches of road.
The drive modes change the feel of the car, too. In Dynamic the steering takes on a weighty, gelatinous feel that doesn’t instil confidence. Comfort and Auto modes provide much more natural steering. As with other Audis, however, you can alter suspension, engine/gearbox and steering settings independently.
A dual-clutch automatic gearbox is the only option and it’s a fine choice. Changes are speedy and the car does a very good job of working out which gear you want. It does have one big flaw, though – accelerate hard with the car in automatic mode and there can be a significant pause between flattening the throttle and the TT starting to accelerate, as the car works out which gear to choose. It’s a major frustration for a sports car, but on the flip side you can learn to drive around it – or manually select gears to avoid it entirely.
Should I cancel the 718 Boxster?
If serious power, a solid, high-quality interior and a serrated five-cylinder engine note appeals, then the TT RS puts a strong case forward. Its speed is undeniable and it takes corners in its stride. The low-slung cabin feels special, too, helping justify the price, while the comfortable seats hold you in place well at the limits.
The TT RS just can’t compete with the engaging feel of the Porsche, however. All-wheel drive, no manual option and duller steering takes away a major level of connection that the 718 Boxster offers, and the TT’s howling engine note only serves as fractional compensation.
For all-weather point-to-point pace, with minimal effort, the TT RS is hard to beat. This latest super-Audi is also a striking, truly rapid car that sounds distinctive. It costs £53,550, and you’re likely to get closer to a mammoth £60,000 by the time you add a few options, however.
If none of that rings any alarm bells, you can’t go wrong with a TT RS – but if you demand more entertainment from your sports car, you’ll want to head to your nearest Porsche dealer. The 718 Boxster may not be able to match the Audi’s speed, but it provides several additional dimensions in the way it involves you in the process of getting down the road, making it the more satisfying machine to drive.
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