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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

‘Freakishly fast’ is how we might have described the TT RS here – were it not for the fact that so little about the way in which the car puts its 394bhp onto the road and hurls itself into middle distance makes it seem like the engine, gearbox or four-wheel drive system is breaking a sweat in order to produce the extraordinary.

Our recorded performance figures speak with emphatic clarity. Taking off in a perfectly regulated launch, driving through all four wheels and actively throwing a huge wave of torque rearwards to lie in wait for the car’s inevitable shift of mass (rather than only doing so passively after the front wheels have begun scrabbling), the TT RS picked off the 0-60mph sprint in an average of 3.6sec.

Huge pace requires feathering of the throttle, but stability makes it easy to turn and brake into hairpin corners

In one direction, and with that little bit of slipperiness under its wheels that fast Audis seem to thrive on, the car actually performed the task in just 3.46sec.

Even at the former mark, the Audi really isn’t far away from supercar pace – quicker, even, than both a Ferrari F430 and a 997-generation Porsche 911 Turbo.

And it doesn’t let up. Needing just 8.4sec to hit 100mph from rest makes the TT RS a closer match for a 2017-model-year Nissan GT-R than a Porsche 718 Cayman S – the latter being shrugged off by more than a second to both 100mph and over a standing quarter mile.

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In objective, straight-line terms, then, TT RS is nothing short of a monster. But the quality of its delivery isn’t abrupt or peaky, as you might imagine it would need to be.

A hint of turbo lag is evident at very low crank speeds, followed by a small but noticeable injection of urge on a flattened throttle as the needle passes 2000rpm, then another at 4000rpm on the way to a fabulous top end that runs out at 6750rpm.

But overall there’s still a remarkably broad spread of warbling and wonderful power and response to tap into, making the car feel fast in all kinds of scenarios.

Audi’s S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox suits the car much better than the manual gearbox fitted to the 2009 version ever did.

It allows you to make the most of that stellar engine and swap cogs crisply and entirely at will – or just leave it to its own devices.

Meanwhile, the richness and varied tonality of the car’s five-cylinder soundtrack makes it a special car to drive around in at any speed.

It’s a quality undervalued by so many modern sports car makers – and so controversially by one in particular this year.