As has been the case with all Audis fitted with the inline five, its the engine that dominates the driving experience and gives the TT RS a uniquely brutish character and soundtrack.
Ah, that soundtrack; it’s a total cliché to say that the warbling, offbeat note vividly evokes memories of Audi’s rally dominance in the 1980s but, as we’re belting through Scotland’s empty, heavily forested Cairngorms National Park on the launch route, its the first thought that springs to mind. It’s an epic noise, albeit one that’s a fraction less dramatic than it was pre-facelift.
The tone and overall volume is still there, but a few of the characteristic pops and crackles have been ironed out even with the optional RS sport exhausts. Thankfully there’s still enough din to combine with this car’s extraordinary accelerative abilities to make each prod of the throttle a special experience.
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.