The Audi TT RS is a car of highs and lows. The engine is wonderful and the Quattro’s hallmarks are all there to see. It just lacks the finesse of the Cayman.
What is it?
This is the Audi TT RS Roadster – the chop-top version of the range-topping TT complete with 335bhp turbocharged five-pot and six-speed manual transmission.
Losing the roof will cost you more than just the substantial four-figure premium over the coupe. You also lose the two rear seats, a decent chunk of boot space and gain 60kg in weight.
So it’s a good thing that the Roadster loses little of the coupe’s potent performance. 0-62mph is dispatched in 4.7 seconds and even the top speed remains the same electronically limited 155mph.
What’s it like?
In isolation, the TT RS does everything you could want of a focused sports roadster. The engine is brilliantly accessible, offering up a continuous mass of torque throughout most of the rev range. Combine that with the reassuringly predictable behaviour of the Quattro chassis and direct steering the RS makes for the kind of performance car that is both forgiving and entertaining.
It even has a healthy dose of rebelliousness, which you’ll discover if you push the ‘S’ button to sharpen up throttle response and allow the exhaust free rein to scandalise your neighbours.
Driven hard you will notice a certain amount of flex in the TT on UK roads but it’s unlikely that the average TT RS owner will let that bother them. More troublesome is the amount of wind flutter you get past the A-pillars at motorway speeds, not to mention the ride quality, which settles only on very smooth tarmac and descends into plain uncomfortable on very uneven surfaces.
Despite the on-paper prowess, and the strengths of the new engine, the Audi TT RS Roadster amounts to less than the sum of its parts.
It is undeniably the fastest car among its rivals, but it offers none of the cohesion and precision of the benchmark Porsche Boxster S, nor the touring ability and plush cabin of the BMW Z4 and Merc SLK. It settles instead for being a blunt instrument that majors on drama and style rather than driver reward.
Should I buy one?
Audi predicts very low sales volumes for the TT RS Roadster, with less than 100 units expected to leave showrooms in 2010.
There’s no doubt that they’ll achieve that. Even so, other than an aversion to rear-wheel drive there’s no reason to opt for the TT over its rivals.
Throw in the inflated price – over £4000 more than a Boxster S – and it’s a no-brainer.