I love fast Audi’s and anything from Audi Sport is one I need to drive, however, news from the German automaker’s annual shareholder meeting confirmed that the ax is falling on both the TT and the R8 to make way for more electric models. We drove the revamped Audi TT in 2015 and also the TT Roadster, both of which I loved, and since Audi had a 2019 TT RS sitting around gathering dust I had to get one more drive in.
My 2019 Audi TT RS tester arrived in Tango Red Metallic and was very easy to find in a parking lot and also for the ever present eyes of the Highway Patrol. The The rear fixed spoiler gave away that our car had the Dynamic package which foregoes the magnetic system for even stiffer springs and tighter, non-adjustable shocks. It also removes the top speed limiter so the TT RS is good for 174 mph. Packaged with 20 in, 7 spoke wheels shod with 255/30 Pirelli P-Zeros it rides very firm so if it was me checking the options boxes I would prefer the standard 245/35-19 option wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sports………my wife probably agrees too.
The TT RS and the RS3 are the only two cars on sale in the US with a 5 cylinder engine, and boy is it a good one. Specs are identical to the last one I drove in 2017, the 2.5 liter, 5 cylinder engine puts out 394 hp @ 7000 rpm and 354 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm, enough to propel the TT RS to sixty, in as near as damn it 3.5 seconds. It took a few goes using launch control to get there but we finally beat Audi’s claim of 3.6 seconds……job done.
On start up the car emits a throaty exhaust noise, enhanced by lowering the very small rear seats, creating a pleasant resonating chamber of sound. The rear seats are no good for people so why not make them serve this purpose. There is a button forward of the shifter that allows you to set the exhaust sound in either Standard or Sport….guess which one I chose? By choosing Sport, flaps open allowing more of the glorious noise to ring in your ears. Even around town at slower speeds the exhaust farts and pops and the tremendous 7-speed dual clutch drops down gears with ease. At full throttle with the gearbox shifting at 6800 rpm, the transmission changes cogs at bolt-action speed, and the engine emits a guttural noise between shifts, it’s positively grin inducing.
We made several trips to some twisty bits in the mountains to the East of Sam Diego and this is where the TT RS really began to shine. The Haldex differential is now able to push more power to the rear wheels than before, in fact, it can send 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels under a heavy right foot, which I seem to have. The steering is pretty quick and very direct, so together with the improved differential it makes for a total lack of under steer……you point, it goes. One small thing that irked us was if you mash your foot down and activate the kickdown switch, the car pauses while it emits a brrrapp, brrrapp, brrrapp, and then after a slight delay surges forward. This was slightly disconcerting the first time I attempted to pass 3 cars on a two lane rural highway, in fact, I aborted the attempt. Next time I only applied 80% throttle and this avoided this delay.
Scorchingly fast, great handling, fantastic sound track
Turbo lag aside driving hard for a week did dampen the economy numbers and I achieved a not very respectable 17.1 mpg, admittedly this did include our acceleration testing and never driving with restraint.
Inside, the TT RS is really only good for 2 people, the back seats are for small children on short trips or contortionists. They serve a better purpose as a storage area or that resonating chamber I mentioned earlier. So back to the front where the sports seats hold you in place very well and are comfortable without being too hard. 8 way power means it’s easy to find the perfect driving position. The quilted look seats have what Audi calls Crescendo Red stitching and cool red accents on the seat belts and the HVAC controls. It’s all very tastefully done. The virtual dash is the only screen you get, where you can access, entertainment, navigation, Drive Select modes etc. The passenger just gets to stare at the 4 circular vents or close their eyes.
The leather and Alcantara sport steering wheel is a nod to the R8 V10, containing the virtual cockpit controls, ignition, and drive select buttons. Of course, just like the paddle shifters, anything on the steering wheel moves when you turn, so Audi has provided a non moving Drive Select button on the center console in case you suddenly feel the need to select Comfort Mode mid bend. As expected materials are top notch and the interior is full of brilliant detailing. I especially liked the propeller air-vents, which have controls for the entire HVAC system in the center of each.
Pretty harsh ride with Dynamic Package dampens enjoyment and that pesky turbo lag
The sun sets on the TT
This car drops right into Porsche Cayman territory and if you check the Dynamic package, the Audi becomes a bargain considering a similarly kitted our Cayman S will cost you north of $80K.
There’s very little to complain about here, except the ride with the Dynamic Plus Package is pretty harsh and there is some turbo lag from a stop. That said it has a fantastic engine absolutely full of character, a beautifully sonorous exhaust, which makes even a grocery store run an event, massive straight line acceleration, and a fabulous interior. Audi has done an exceptional job with the TT RS, it’s simply massive fun. I would opt for smaller wheels and a slightly higher profile tire. Go get one before they are gone!
2019 Audi TT RS Numbers
VEHICLE TYPE: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
BASE PRICE: $66,900
PRICE AS TESTED: $77,490
ENGINE TYPE: Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 20-valve inline-5
POWER: 394 hp @ 7000 rpm
TORQUE: 354 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode
CARGO VOLUME: 12 cu ft
CURB WEIGHT: 3,306 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 3.51 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 8.7 sec
TOP SPEED: 155 mph (174 mph with Dynamic Plus Package)
EPA FUEL ECONOMY: Combined/City/hwy 22/19/29
OUR OBSERVED: 17.1 mpg
CONS Scorchingly fast, great handling, fantastic sound track
PROS Harsh ride with Dynamic Plus Package, slight turbo lag