What is it?
On the face of it, a lightly updated version of Audi’s ultimate TT. But it’s more significant than it first appears.
Unsurprisingly Audi wasn’t exactly shouting about it, but the TT RS - along with the powertrain-sharing RS 3 - haven’t been available to order for over a year now because the five-cylinder engine was caught in the VW Group’s enormous backlog of variants requiring certification under the new WLTP emissions regulations.
But both models are back on sale, now sporting a new particulate filter to keep the nastier emissions in check. Audi has also quietened the exhausts on both as a result of the EU phasing in noise regulations over the next few years.
The TT RS’s disappearance from sale coincided with a mild facelift for the rest of the range, so it now benefits from a lightly altered front bumper, modified rear wing and new diffuser design, alongside reshaped sills.
There’s also a change of the colour options available inside, while Audi has added wireless phone charging, electric folding door mirrors and privacy glass to the standard kit tally.
What's it like?
Largely the same as it was when we first drove it back in in 2016. But it’s worth revisiting it, given this could be the last time we see the five-pot offered in a TT and, if the rumours are correct, the last TT to arrive before it potentially evolves out of all recognition.
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.