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- Highs Snorty five-cylinder, slick infotainment solution, rip-roaring good time.
- Lows Doesn't feel particularly luxurious, handling is a little too predictable, optional suspension kills the ride.
- Verdict It's stylish, fast, and fun to drive, but other rivals offer more thrills.
Audi's stylish lineup of TT roadsters and coupes is topped by the brutish and thrilling TT RS, which will easily blow the doors off of its stablemates. A turbocharged five-cylinder engine is under the hood, pumping out 394 horsepower to all four wheels through Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The TT RS eats curvy back roads for lunch and its handling is predictable enough to make even novice drivers feel like track-trained racers; expert drivers, however, will yearn for something sharper and more challenging such as the Porsche 718 Cayman S or the Chevrolet Corvette. Audi's little coupe has a cabin to match its compact body; its front seats are spacious and infotainment technology is abundant, but the rear seats are cramped and cargo space is limited.
What's New for 2019?
Audi gave its mini super car a few extra visual muscles for 2019 by adding wider outer air intakes at the front grille, redesigned lower rocker panels, and an updated rear spoiler. The Black Optic package adds black trim throughout the exterior of the TT RS for a more menacing appearance. Three bright colors join the roster—Kyalami Green, Turbo Blue, and Tango Red Metallic—and the exterior side mirrors can now be had with either body-color painted caps or carbon fiber in addition to either silver or gloss black.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Given that there's only one TT RS model, choosing which one to buy is super easy. The fact that it comes standard with all the good stuff—including the fiery five-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive—makes it even easier. We'd splurge on the Technology package as it adds navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, but we'd otherwise leave our TT RS relatively unadorned.
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The TT RS's 394-hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine is unusual and alluring, and it makes a happy triumvirate with the standard Quattro all-wheel drive and snappy seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Passing power is astonishing: The seven-speed is more than willing to downshift as soon as you demand extra power, and the TT RS surges forward with such immediacy and force that you might think you've been sucked into a wormhole. Careful modulation of the throttle transforms this athlete into a comfortable cruiser. When equipped with its standard adaptive dampers, the TT RS feels stable and planted on the road—even when that road turns wickedly twisty—so even relatively inexperienced drivers can feel confident tossing it through corners at supralegal speeds. The version we tested felt rock solid all the way up to its limit, but that limit is significantly lower than those of the Corvette or Cayman. While an edgier suspension—sans adaptive dampers— is available, the setup makes it noticeably more difficult to feel when the TT RS is about to reach its cornering limits. Unless you plan on spending lots of time on a racetrack, we suggest passing on the Dynamic Plus package.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Don't let the uncompromising performance fool you; the TT RS's turbo five-cylinder is quite efficient. Our test car hit 31 mpg on the highway during our real-world testing, beating its EPA highway rating of 29 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, leather seats with diamond stitching are standard, as is the eye-catching, well-integrated aluminum trim of the cabin's design. However, absent from the car's hefty price tag were ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel, and a memory function for the driver and front-passenger seats. In our experience, the TT's rear seats are all but unusable—except as a place to throw gym bags or a briefcase. With the back row folded (as it should always be—no kind person would subject a friend to the RS's back seat), we stuffed nine carry-on cases behind the front seats, making the TT RS by far the most useful vehicle in this class. As with many cars of this sort, unwieldy cargo will find no quarter—the cargo compartment is relatively large but not very tall, and the liftback rear opening is long but narrow.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Working with limited space, the TT RS's infotainment screen is not in the center of the dashboard but in the space traditionally occupied by the gauge cluster. This arrangement is attractive and easy to use, and, as in other Audis, is controlled by a rotary knob mounted on the center console. MMI functionality can be expanded with the optional navigation, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The TT RS hasn't been crash-tested by either U.S. ratings agency—not an unusual omission for cars in this class. There's not much in the way of available driver-assistance tech for the TT RS, either. Still, this is a car designed with driving, not mindless cruising, in mind. The omissions don't bother us, but some shoppers may disagree. Key safety features include:
- Standard front and rear parking sensors
- Available blind-spot monitoring
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Audi's warranty coverage is roughly in line with most competitors, but the Corvette and the Jaguar F-type both offer more complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for 1 year or 10,000 miles