Audi TT RS - purity

in action

Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, front
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, side, action
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, rear, action
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, interior
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, front, action
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, front, static
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, rear, static
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, seats
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, rear seats
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, boot
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, instrument panel
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, steering wheel
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, grille
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, spoiler
Audi TT RS Coupe, 2016, engine

AUDI may be saying farewell to endurance racing after years of dominating the Le Mans 24 hour series but it's proving there is still plenty of venom left in the tank with cars such as the new TT RS.

Either as a roadster or a 2+2 coupe this is the quickest TT to date and makes full use of the latest iteration of the legendary five cylinder 2.5-litre engine first seen in the quattro rally cars of the 1980s.

Pumping out 400ps and an equally large amount of torque, the engine is the most powerful five pot Audi has developed for a road car - and the TT RS exploits every aspect.

Significantly lighter than its high performance predecessor, the latest RS has a power to weight ratio of 278ps per tonne - not far away from that of Audi's V10 powered 5.0-litre R8.

And while the R8 can set you back £100,000 or more, the hot TT is a relative snip costing from £51,800 for the coupe and £53,550 for the soft top.

More importantly the grunt of the TT outguns - by some margin - that of its immediate peers in the form of the Porsche Cayman and Boxster, the BMW Z4, Mercedes SLC and Alfa's 4c.

The coupe is the quicker of the two versions of the TT RS and capable of completing 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds. The roadster, which weighs a little more, takes 3.9 seconds but none of the others in this class break the four second mark.

Top end is 155mph but that can be increased to a blistering 174mph if you ask - and pay - Audi nicely. At that point, only the Porsche pair are quicker.

Bragging rights will probably determine that choice but there are options on the TT RS worth having such as magnetic ride suspension which will smooth out the vagaries of British roads.

An upgrade to a Bang & Olufsen sound system and advanced LED light systems - including the world's first application of OLED rear lamps - are the icing on the cake while a set of sports seats at £4,500 may tickle a few fancies.

As such the TT RS coupe we sampled cost more than £70,000 - a lot of money but it is a lot of engineering.

So often do high performance cars with masses of race track technology fail to gel when used in everyday conditions.

Audi has to be congratulated with the TT RS. It may be honed to the hilt, possessing features such as launch control and a single turbo engine tuned almost to competition specification but it's a delight to drive on the open road.

Rapid fire changes are available through a seven speed dual clutch transmission, there's a multi-mode drive system to tighten or relax the settings and the quattro all-wheel-drive technology has been refined to move all its might to a single axle if needed.

The grip and feel is totally impressive and the car is as thrilling as it is enjoyable. A ‘noise' button lurks on the centre console to enhance the exhaust note but the growl is splendid at any time.

So is the entire demeanour of the car. Even the steering wheel feels special with its flat bottom, part Alcantara and leather rim and racing car ‘satellite' buttons for the starter and drive modes.

Yet the real beauty of the TT coupe is its practicality which makes the RS ideal for touring.

Boot space ranges from 305 to 712 litres - more than anything else of this ilk. Even the roadster has 280 litres of luggage space.

Inside, creature comforts range from wireless phone charging to full online connectivity and Audi's ‘virtual cockpit' multi-display instrument panel - complete with RS power and torque gauges - is standard fit.

The TT RS is shameless about being high tech and that goes from what is under the bonnet to its organic LED rear lights with their distinctive glowing wafers that incorporate a tiny logo.

Setting the RS apart from other TTs are large front air intakes and aerodynamic tweaks to the splitter while at the rear there's a fixed spoiler to generate some added downforce. A flip-up wing - as on the non-RS versions - can be specified as a covert touch.

The RS sits on 19-inch alloys as standard (20-inch rims optional) and as such Audi claims an official fuel return of 34.4mpg with emissions of 187g/km - figures that are not far off the mark in the real world where we averaged close on 32 to the gallon.

Two specific RS colours are included in the six paint jobs available - Nardo grey and Catalunya red - but whatever the finish the car looks very distinguished.

For sheer driving pleasure the TT RS sets its own high standard - and for half the price of an R8.

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