The original Audi TT RS, launched in 2009, came with a big mechanical lure under its bonnet.
But the brand instead referenced an even bigger legend: the Audi Ur-Quattro of the 1980s, a name custom-built to generate a fizz in anyone old enough to recall the heroics of Group B rallying – or young enough to have watched the highlights on YouTube.
The all-new 2.5-litre in-line five cooked up for the Audi TT lived up to the billing, producing 335bhp and the kind of rasping, evocative soundtrack that fostered the idea of it being a V10 split asunder.
Sadly, the car around it proved less compelling – a symptom familiar to the TT and one not fixed when power was increased to 355bhp for the Audi TT RS Plus model in 2012.
Now the TT RS returns with a new assurance based on the same strategy. Lightened and retuned to produce 394bhp, the engine in the car now delivers pace that merits comparison with the supercar class by virtue of a 0-62mph time that drops below four seconds – or so Audi says.
By making its Audi TT RS coupé (and Audi TT RS Roadster, for that matter) quicker out the blocks than a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, Ingolstadt has certainly laid down a technical marker. But glowing praise in an Autocar road test needs to be earned by much more than raw speed alone.