The TT is based on the MQB platform that Audi shares with Volkswagen. It’s a modular platform that can be adjusted for various types of vehicles, anywhere from a compact hatchback like the VW Golf to a crossover like the next VW Tiguan to a sports car like the TT. It’s a great platform for the Golf, but it is inherently flawed for the TT because it’s the source of the forward-mounted, transverse engine layout. The platform also isn’t strengthened for use in the TT RS, but the suspension is unique.
The base suspension is actually quite premium. U.S. buyers get the adjustable magnetorheological shocks that are optional in Europe. The springs are stiffer than those in the lesser models, and the car is lowered 0.4 inch. The steering features a variable ratio with a standard 15.8:1 ratio that ramps up to a quicker 13:1 the farther the steering wheel is turned.
The standard tires are 245/35R19s on cast aluminum wheels and buyers can choose 255/30R20 tires on forged alloy wheels. The brakes feature 14.6-inch ventilated front discs with 8-piston calipers. The rear brakes are 12.2 inches in diameter.
Track-focused buyers should opt for the Dynamic Plus package. Instead of the magnetic ride suspension, it features fixed shocks, as well as carbon ceramic front brake discs, a carbon fiber engine cover, and a top speed that increases from 155 to 174 mph.
Also standard is Audi Drive Select with Comfort, Auto, Sport, and Individual modes. The system adjusts the steering weight, throttle response, transmission shift points, stability control system, all-wheel-drive system, exhaust note, and, when equipped, the magnetic shocks.
Like all TTs, the TT RS comes standard with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system. This version is unique, however, and it distributes power front to rear based on the mode you choose in the Drive Select system. Opt for the Comfort mode, and 80 percent of the power goes to the front. Choose Auto, and a little more goes the rear. Pick Sport and it aims for a 50/50 split, though perhaps 80 percent can go to the rear during performance driving. In extreme conditions, such as when the front wheels are on ice and the rears have traction, all of the power can go to the back.
Playing in Spain, and again at Lime Rock
To show off the capabilities of the TT RS, Audi invited Motor Authority to Spain to drive it on the former Formula One ractrack Circuito del Jarama, and on the twisty mountain roads around Madrid last September. We got to drive the car again in July at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.
The first thing you notice when you slide into the diamond-quilted sports seats and press the steering wheel-mounted start button is the wail of the 5-cylinder. It’s a constant companion that burbles at low rpms but becomes a thrashy, rumbly, box of marbles when you step on it. Audi even offers a sport exhaust mode that opens flaps in the exhaust to make the engine note more pronounced.
The Dynamic mode really wakes up the engine and transmission, holding lower gears and increasing throttle sensitivity. That’s good because it helps mitigate the noticeable turbo lag you feel from a stop in Comfort mode. The problem isn’t so bad on the freeway because the turbo is already spooled up.