The Dynamic mode also enables a launch control function. To launch the car, choose Dynamic, hit the stability control button to activate its Sport function, put your left foot on the brake, mash the throttle, wait for the engine to engine to rev to 3.500 rpm, and let off the brake. “It provides a mighty shove right from the get-go,” says TT head of technical development Stephan Reil. It truly does. The TT RS launches almost violently, starting with a jerk and vaulting the car from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. That’s practically supercar territory.
The cars we drove were outfitted with the optional 20-inch wheels, though Audi made both the magnetic ride and sport suspensions available. For those who will never take their TT RS to the racetrack, the magnetic ride suspension is clearly the way to go. In the Comfort mode, it is firm but not harsh, and it does a good job of quelling up-and-down motions over ruts and heaves. With the 19-inch wheels, we could see driving this car on an everyday basis. Those bounding motions become and issue in the Sport mode, especially with the 20-inch tires, and they are a cost of doing business with the Dynamic Plus package’s fixed dampers.
On the road, the TT RS fights against the limits of its design to deliver a fun driving experience. The steering is fairly quick and very direct, though it could use a bit more feel. The car turns in quickly, tracks nicely through corners, and maintains plenty of grip. Of course, you can only go so hard on the street, so Audi made Dynamic Plus package cars available for track duty to test the car’s at-the-limit handling.
On the track, the TT RS is surprisingly controllable. Charge into a corner, and it wants to understeer a bit upon turn-in. Keep adding throttle and it will just wash out. However, you can get it to point in the direction you want by lifting off the throttle. This induces some lift-off oversteer that rotates the car. Wait until the attitude is correct, then get back on the throttle and let the all-wheel-system put down the power to drive out of the turn. Pitching the car around corners in this manner was a genuine thrill both on both del Jarama and Lime Rock and the car's moves proved to be predictable and manageable.
It should be noted that the cars made available for track duty had very sticky Pirelli Corsa tires that are great for performance driving but will probably last 10,000 miles or less. These tires are only offered as an accessory through Audi dealers.
Super sticky tires or no, the 2018 Audi TT RS is a fast, raspy, agile machine that is fun to drive on twisty mountain roads or all out on a racetrack. Opt for the base suspension and the 19-inch wheels and it may give up a bit of track capability, but it is still quick while offering more everyday comfort.
The layout may not be ideal, but the TT RS car overcomes its inherent imbalance to become a genuinely fun sports car that doesn't have to apologize for its design.
These driving impressions are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle, the racetrack, and executives. Audi covered our overnight accommodations, meals, and transportation costs.