Audi TT RS review

Our Rating 
2016 model
By jumbo-bg Test TeamComments

For fast Audi fans, things don’t get much better than the awesomely potent 395bhp TT RS

Incredible acceleration, four-wheel drive grip, great design and excellent build quality
High running costs , less fun than a Porsche Cayman, almost twice the price of a standard TT

The flagship Audi TT has a tough battle against rivals such as the BMW M2 and Porsche 718 Cayman, but it puts up a jolly good fight. With mighty performance from its 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, and the all-weather reassurance of quattro four-wheel drive, it’s the sort of car that anyone can drive fast and feel like a hero. You’ll look like one too, as the TT RS super stylish, while the interior design, quality and ambience has the measure of more exotic machines costing twice the price. It may not be quite as fun as a Porsche or BMW at speed, but it could easily be faster point-to-point.

Our Choice 
Audi TT RS Coupe

The RS badge attracts almost mythical status among fast Audi fans, and no wonder, as the sporting brand’s back catalogue contains some real classics. The Audi RS line-up – it stands for RennSport or ‘Racing Sport’ by the way – currently includes the TT RS in Roadster and Coupe guise, the RS 3 Sportback and Saloon, the RS 5 Coupe, RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback. All of them build on the heritage and acclaim lavished on original Audi RS2 Avant from 1994. That car was co-developed with Porsche to provide eye-opening performance plus room for all the family and the dog. 

Audi TT RS vs Porsche 718 Cayman S

The RS journey has now reached the latest TT models, and the result is a sports car whose blistering performance and relative value might make you think twice about buying an Audi R8 supercar. We suspect Audi would prefer the TT RS to make you think twice about opting for rivals such as the Porsche 718 Cayman, BMW M2 or even the Lotus Evora, however.

The hottest TTs are the flagship models in the current Coupe and Roadster line-up, which was launched in 2014 on the VW Group’s MQB platform. The new model was a major advance for both driving dynamics and tech, but the TT RS versions really push the boat out on the performance front thanks to a new five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine pumping out almost 400bhp. Naturally you get Audi’s iconic quattro 4x4 system to keep the whole plot glued to the road, while a paddle-shifted DSG dual clutch gearbox keeps the power delivery seamless.

The Audi TT RS Roadster offers similar performance to its TT RS Coupe stablemate, but with a wind-in-the-hair thrills courtesy of a quick-folding fabric top. And even if you don’t drive your RS like a lunatic, other road users will recognise you by various RS-specific wheel and aero ugrades, and the exhaust note from your double-pipe oval exhausts.

Engines, performance and drive

The cracking five-cylinder engine makes all the right noises, while the chassis provides plenty of control and grip

The Audi TT RS is surely one of the fastest ways of getting from A to B, thanks to its blistering acceleration and the phenomenal grip provided by fat sticky tyres and its quattro four-wheel-drive system.

That said, in contrast with the balance and poise provided by the Porsche 718 Cayman, the TT RS has a more brutal feel. The front-engined layout means there’s lots of weight in the nose, and carrying too much speed into a corner will see it gently push wide. The chassis doesn’t easily give you the flexibility to alter the car’s line on  the throttle or brakes either. The upshot is a car that’s easy to drive stupidly fast, but a skilled driver will likely enjoy the extra involvement of the Cayman more – even if the Audi driver makes slightly faster time.

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Given its astonishing performance, the ride quality of the TT RS is excellent. With the optional Magnetic ride suspension, the damping is fluid and supple in spite of the car’s lower ride height and stiff springs. It can jar over rough surfaces, but in general the ride quality is well composed, which will be satisfying to owners using their cars on a daily basis.

There’s only one transmission option in the RS, and it’s a rapid-fire dual-clutch DSG unit that flicks seamlessly through its seven ratios as quickly as you can blink. Set the TT RS into Dynamic mode using the standard Audi Drive Select system, and it will bang through the gearbox with a cacophony of pops and crackles from the tailpipes.


Audi has a history of producing wonderfully characterful five-cylinder engines, and the 2.5-litre unit developed for the TT RS is a cracker. It’s now also available in the RS 3 Sportback and Saloon, making the same 395bhp and 480Nm of torque – all of it available from 1,700rpm. It’s actually the most powerful five-cylinder engine ever found in an Audi road car, and it blasts the TT RS to 62mph in 3.7 seconds and on to a maximum of 175mph. That means the car is a little faster off the line than even some of the old R8 models.

MPG, CO2 and running costs

Running a TT RS will cost a packet, but if you can’t afford the fuel bills there’s a much cheaper diesel version

If you want a TT that’s cheap to run, you should be reading our road test of the frugal diesel models. If you’re so minded, you can get one that’ll return up to 63mpg and emit just 116g/km. Alternatively, keep reading, and steel yourself for company car tax rates and VED charges based on a £50,000+ purchase price and 187g/km C02 emissions. 

That latter figure isn’t appalling by any means when you consider the performance the TT RS offers, but it’s still going to expose you to some hefty annual charges. You’ll be right at the top of the £800 first year VED band (it’s £450 thereafter), and the Benefit In Kind rate for 2017/18 is 36 percent of the list price. As a higher rate taxpayer that means you’ll be in for nearly £7,500 a year – a BMW M2 Coupe attracts a lesser £6,800 charge, while a PDK-equipped Porsche 718 Cayman S is £6,500.

The TT RS isn’t too bad on fuel economy if you drive it sensibly, with up to 34mpg achievable on the combined cycle in official figures. The car has a 50-litre fuel tank which gives you a theoretical range of 374 miles, but not if you want to get there quickly, of course.

As with all performance cars, watch out for the consumable costs of heavily used/abused brake pads and tyres. Especially if you indulge in the occasional track day.

Insurance groups

Insurance costs for the Audi TT RS will be significant, as you’d expect. The TT RS Coupe falls into group 43, while the TT RS Roadster insurance is group 46. 


The TT RS Roadster is the most expensive version of Audi’s sports car, costing upwards of £50,000. Drive it for three years and 30,000 miles and we reckon you should be able to sell it for a little more than £20k.  

Interior, design and technology

The latest Audi TT models showcase contemporary style and impressive on-board technology

The profile of an Audi TT is pretty unmistakable, and although the latest versions lack some of the original’s unique ‘concept car’ appeal, there’s no doubt the model has matured very well. 

Rakish and elegant, the current TT retains a form of the round wheelarches, swoopy pillars and unique rear shoulders that characterised the original, but there’s an added layer of sophistication nowadays. There’s a strong family resemblance to saloon and hatch models too, and that’s one reason why the Audi’s image will always be a bit more ‘mainstream’ compared to the Porsche 718 Cayman, for example. 

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In TT RS guise, there’s a predictable array of aerodynamic tweaks and upgrades to the exterior, giving the model a visual lift. The honeycomb grille and big lower air intakes, front splitter and rear spoiler all point to the car’s overt performance potential, as do the carbon finish mirrors, twin exhaust tailpipes and big alloys with low profile tyres. There are plenty of ways to customise your TT RS, including a range of nine paint colours that includes the RS-unique Nardo Grey.

Sitting behind the wheel of a TT is a bit of a treat too, as the latest version features a highly appealing dash design that’s tactile and well thought out. It’s also remarkably well screwed together from high quality materials, and with the RS’s extra sporty detailing it really looks the part. 

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The TT RS benefits from the Audi Virtual Cockpit system that appears across most of the model range. It means you get a 12.3-inch high definition screen instead of a traditional instrument pack, and with features like sat-nav and other vehicle parameters cleverly integrated. For this reason, you don’t need another display cluttering up the centre of the dash like you’ll find in the A3, A4 or A5

Practicality, comfort and boot space

There’s plenty of space for shopping or road trip luggage, but the 2+2 Coupe is not a great family car

Don’t be tempted into buying a TT Coupe on the basis of its 2+2 seating, because the truth is that the back seats are pretty hopeless. As a two-seater, though, it offers a decent level of practicality, and indeed Roadster models lose the back chairs altogether. 

The Coupe comes with that steeply sloping roofline, meaning it isn’t great for passengers who do venture into the back, but it does allow for a useful hatchback for dropping shopping bags into the boot. The Roadster version has a more traditional boot lid and although you lose a bit of space to hood storage, it’s not affected whether the roof is raised or open. 

The TT cockpit looks lovely, but it’s not a paragon of practicality. You only get a single cup holder between the seats, and there’s a small oddments cubby ahead of the gearlever and narrow door bins. 

It’s roomy for occupants up front though, with a wide range of seat adjustment and good leg and headroom. Visibility isn’t bad either, as the latest TT’s have thinner pillars and a bigger windscreen than previously.


Audi has done well to retain the TT’s compact dimensions in the face of ever increasing pressures to succumb to crash test regulations and safety requirements. The latest model is no bigger than the last, and at 4,177mm nose-to-tail it’s usefully shorter than a VW Scirocco or Peugeot RCZ

Leg room, head room & passenger space

You can get small children into the back of a TT Coupe, thanks to the seatbelts and corresponding ISOFIX mounts. Adults are trickier, and if you do manage to shoehorn one in, it better not be for much more than a run around the block.


The Coupe has a boot volume of 305 litres with the rear seats in place, but fold them down and there’s 712 litres available under the rear tailgate. Thanks to the folding hood and its mechanism boot space in the TT Roadster is limited to 280 litres – but there’s a hatch through to the cabin for loading longer items.

Reliability and Safety

VW Group shared engineering should be dependable, and build quality appears flawless

The latest Audi TT range shares much of its engineering hardware with other Volkswagen Group cars under its modular MQB Platform, so there’s been plenty of opportunity to shake out any reliability issues. The TT RS uses a new five-cylinder TFSI engine and is quite highly-strung, but lots of its technology has been seen before and we expect it to be robust. We ran a TT test car on our fleet when it was first released, and had some issues with the electrical system – in particular the Virtual Cockpit – but the passage of time has likely allowed Audi to sort any long-form issues. Otherwise, the build and material quality of the TT appears flawless inside and out.

The TT also only has a four-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, missing out on the fifth star primarily because Automatic City Braking isn’t available. Occupant crash safety ratings of 81 per cent for adults and 68 per cent for children. The BMW 1 Series (on which the rival BMW 2 Series Coupe is based) scores 91 per cent and 83 per cent.

Auto braking aside, the TT does come with plenty of safety tech, including blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance and speed limit recognition. The TT hasn’t figured in our driver power survey, but Audi trails some way behind BMW in the ‘best manufacturer’ category of our 2017 Driver Power Survey – although it’s a few places ahead of Mercedes. 


All Audi models come with three-year warranty capped at 60,000 miles, which these days is nothing much to write home about. Porsche and BMW also offer three-year cover, but don’t limit your mileage.


Servicing a TT RS is likely to cost more than a regular TT, but there are fixed-rate plans to help with the cashflow. Remember you’ll likely spend more on consumables like brake pads and tyres at service times, too.

Click on the gallery above to see more of the Audi TT RS...

Last updated: 10 Aug, 2017