It’s not just as fast as the figures suggest; with colleagues previously recording a 0-62mph time of less than 3.5sec in one run, it’s even quicker, and feels no less so on first impressions with the particulate filter. Yet equally satisfying is the way it becomes as docile and refined as a four-cylinder TT once shifted out of the racier drive mode. MPG in the low thirties is even within reach on a long run.
Elsewhere, the TT RS retains dynamic qualities that will either impress or disappoint slightly, depending on the type of road, the driver and the climatic conditions. Judged entirely on our experience of typically damp, undulating Scottish mountain roads (as well as several hours behind the wheel on the motorway) it’s a car that excels in offering organ-dislodging traction and expertly tied-down composure over tail-out antics and adjustability.
While that is a demerit when judging the TT RS against the finest traditional sports cars like the Porsche 718 Cayman and Alpine A110, the unflappable, effective way it goes about its business has its own appeal. Particularly with the variable weather and road conditions the UK is lumbered with.
Think of it as a style-led alternative to 4WD mega hatches like the Mercedes-AMG A45 and you’re getting there. Except, by the very nature of being a small coupé, it’s a fair bit more special to look at and sit in. The low-set driving position is superb, the ergonomics largely faultless and the driver-focused cabin is impeccably finished. The TT also has more luggage space than you might expect - you can even squeeze a bike in the back with the seats folded.
Problems? There’s a few. It’s never uncomfortable, but the almost roll-free TT RS always feels stiffly suspended as a result - even with our car’s optional magnetic ride dampers set to comfort. Road noise is more evident than a regular TT, too. And it lacks the delicate steering of those aforementioned sports cars, with a feeling of heft and precision rather than a helm bristling with feel.
Should I buy one?
I’ve saved the TT RS’ biggest problem until last: the RS 3. We drove one back to back with the TT, and found it 90% as fast and enjoyable to drive, but more comfortable, a good deal cheaper and, obviously, more useable as a kids-and-all daily driver.
To choose the TT RS over the RS 3 requires an acceptance that you are happy to sacrifice practical, rational aspects for the look and feel of a sports car. And we wouldn't hold that against you.
There’s also the inevitable comparisons with the Cayman, A110 and BMW M2 Competition, along with the fresh-off-the-blocks Toyota Supra. The latter will require back-to-back testing, but all would almost certainly provide a more thrilling and engaging driving experience on a track or on the smattering of British roads that allow you to exploit them fully.
Still, the TT RS certainly has its place, offering genuine supercar levels of performance, incredible all-weather pace and surprising usability for a fraction of the cost. Just be selective with the options - our Sport Edition model already adds £4000 worth of styling bits, but it was also specced up to nearly £70,000 with lots of (largely unnecessary) additions.