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2018 Audi TT RS Drivers' Notes | Five pots of turbocharged honey

Autoblog Staff

The third-generation Audi TT debuted back in 2014. Since then, we've all been waiting patiently for the new 2018 Audi TT RS. It's been worth it. The TT RS packs an all-new inline-five that uses aluminum for its block and crankcase and magnesium for the oil sump. It's both lighter and more powerful than the outgoing TT RS' five-pot mill. Hell, the TT RS makes nearly double the power of the base model. Audi has been perfecting the five-cylinder engine for decades, and this is arguably the best one short of a full-blown rally car.

While the base TT RS starts at $65,875, this particular example had a number of options that pushed the price just north of $80k. This includes the $3,500 Technology package with upgraded infotainment and audio system and the carbon-fiber trim. Performance options include the $1,000 sport exhaust (well worth it) and the $6,000 Dynamic plus package. That swaps the magnetic suspension for a fixed setup, adds front ceramic brakes and raises the top speed to 174 mph. Raw performance numbers put the TT RS ahead of the Porsche 718 Cayman S, the BMW M2 and even the old Cayman GT4.

Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: Five cylinders, that's brilliant. I kept thinking that over and over during my morning drive in the TT RS. What a pocket rocket. It buzzes and growls on downshifts. The acceleration is strong, even and purposeful. The seven-speed dual-clutch is smooth yet aggressive. I cued up sport mode, and this thing remained in second gear for as long as I felt like staying on the throttle.

The cabin offers great visibility. The TT is where Audi's Virtual Cockpit debuted, and it remains the purest execution of the technology. It feels more distilled in this sports car, and that's a good thing. This tester is done up in with carbon finishings, suede and black leather — making for one of my favorite interior schemes.

The last time I drove the TT RS, I had a professional racecar driver behind me on a track near Madrid (the intervals were spaced, but still ...), and some of that old adrenaline returned during tight cornering and exuberant launches. What an invigorating sports car! There was no track time in store for me on this September morning, but I did toss my 1960s golf bag in the hatch and was surprised how well it fit. Five cylinders and Fore! That's a good day.

Senior Producer Christopher McGraw: I've loved the Audi TT ever since I saw the "baseball glove" interior in a lat-'90s first-gen model. I couldn't drive back then, which probably made my infatuation with the TT worse. This TT RS, with its 400 horsepower, might very well be one of my favorite cars of the year.

Let's start with the looks. This thing is a mini R8. It looks incredible. Mean. Fast. I really dig the orange. The huge grille is aggressive. The wing on the back isn't tacky.

Inside, the driver and passenger seats are comfortable. And beautiful. The carbon fiber interior is well done, as well as the stitching on the seats. I really like Audi's MMI and how it cleans up the interior. Compare this to a Porsche, and the lack of buttons is astounding. The back seats are fine, if the only passenger you have back there is a puppy. The hatch removes all headroom in the rear. But I'm not gathering the whole family for a road trip in this TT. It's for me, myself, I, and some twisty roads.

I loved the handling, steering was tight, brakes were sharp. The exhaust note sounded great, and when in dynamic mode the car behaved exactly how you wanted it to. Here's what I didn't like:

Yep, that's it.

Associate Editor Reese Counts: God this thing sounds amazing. From idle all the way to redline, this 400 horsepower 2.5-liter turbocharged masterpiece sounds like a well-practiced five-piece band doing its best cover of an '80s Group B car. It's so quick to respond, too. Each dip of the throttle sends the tach flying. It revs quickly, and shifts from the seven-speed dual-clutch are smooth and immediate. Torque comes on so low that turbo lag is hardly worth mentioning. I'm a sucker for a good engine, and this thing is pure sex.

And it's totally dressed for the part. I love the proportions and the size. The first-gen TT was a beauty. The follow-up was fine, but took far less risks. This is a mix of both. Not nearly as bold as the '98 model, but tighter and more aggressive than the last one. It's clean without being boring. Sporty without being comical. The fixed wing looks just right. The black accents pair perfectly with the orange paint. Those huge RS exhaust tips look like they spit out fire and brimstone. The LED lighting looks wonderful at night, with tons of small accents adding depth and details only capable with modern technology.

The interior is just as wonderful as the exterior. This is totally and completely driver focused. Audi Virtual Cockpit places everything front and center. There's no wasted or extraneous data. A big digital tach surrounds a digital speedo and gear indicator. When you're really on it, the tach lights up green, yellow and red as you approach redline. Pull the right paddle and keep your foot planted. MMI is good, though I wish Android Auto was better integrated. I love other details like the HVAC controls in the center of the air vents and the real carbon-fiber trim along the center console.

It's not perfect. The steering doesn't have a whole lot of feedback, and the ride is brutal over broken pavement (so, most of metro Detroit). This has the optional 20-inch wheels and the fixed RS suspension, so smaller wheels and active magnetic dampers may help. Still, Audi really nailed it with the TT RS. I'm genuinely sorry to see this one go.

General Manager and Executive Producer Adam Morath: I've long been a fan of the Audi TT, from the standout styling of the first generation, to the refined and sharpened version on offer today. You get the performance of a sports coupe, some of the utility of a hatchback (complete with folding rear bench and a flat loading area), and the sure-footedness of Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. This makes the TT a perfect companion for enthusiasts in northern climates seeking a sporty daily driver.

That said, the TT RS is in a whole other league than the standard TT, with a price tag to match. The $65,000 sticker affords you standard magnetic ride suspension, some nifty styling upgrades, one of the finest infotainment systems in the biz and an extra cylinder of power. The turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five puts out 400 horsepower — over 100 more than the TTS, and a good 180 horses over the standard coupe. That means you're cross-shopping with the likes of the BMW M2, Porsche Cayman S, and perhaps even a standard Corvette. They all offer something unique, but the TT RS is the only one with Quattro.

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