The new Audi TT RS Roadster has been spotted testing on the Nürburgring, ahead of its expected arrival in showrooms this year.
It'll be joined by the regular Coupé version, which was also been seen testing recently.
Both are expected to be powered by a turbocharged five-cylinder petrol engine, however it’s still unclear if it will use a breathed-on version of the 2.5-litre unit that already features in the Audi RS3. The motor in the mega-hatch produces 362bhp, but more power could feasibly be squeezed out of it to increase the gap between the TT RS and the 306bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder TT S.
It is possible that the TT RS could be the first Audi to get a new generation of the five-cylinder engine, with an aluminium block instead of the current motor’s steel block. Originally used in non-turbocharged form in the US-market VW Jetta, the new engine could produce up to 400bhp and potentially allow Audi to make the RS slightly lighter than the S. The extra performance could help the TT RS to crack 0-62mph in less than four seconds and hit a top speed of 180mph.
If the TT RS does indeed come with 400bhp, it will be well matched against its expected key rivals. Porsche's Cayman GT4 produces 380bhp from its 3.8-litre flat six engine, while the Mercedes-AMG A45 gets 376bhp from its turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol motor. The Lotus Evora S, meanwhile, is powered by a 345bhp 3.5-litre V6 engine.
Regardless of engine, the next TT RS will be four-wheel drive only, although buyers should have a choice of transmission, with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox being offered as an alternative to the standard six-speed manual.
Although heavily disguised, the only obvious aesthetic difference between the Coupé and Roadster is the soft-top roof.
Earlier test mules, also spotted at the Nürburgring, showed how the RS will feature a relatively subtle styling kit, with new bumpers front and rear, deeper air intakes at the front end and oval exhaust pipes. The final production models are both likely to receive a large rear spoiler. The prototype of the Roaster looks to be production ready, with only a rear spoiler missing.