2011 Chicago Auto Show: Audi's TT RS American Debut


Audi's TT RS at the Chicago Auto Show

Audi's TT RS at the Chicago Auto Show

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This year's Chicago show media preview's second day focused on social media.  Bloggers strolled from one carmaker exhibit to the next in search of breakfast, lunch, coffee and a story on the industry's use of Facebook and other new media.

I chose Audi.  The fact that it serves great espresso drinks had nothing to do with it, right?

Anyhow, Audi displayed the never-seen-before-in-the-USA TT RS.  It also invited its friends to lunch.  Those who participated in the company's TT survey/petition got up close and personal with the RS.   They also received scale models to hold their interest until the car arrives later this year.

TT's Friends Meet the RS

TT's Friends Meet the RS

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Last August, the four-hoop brand broke the news: it might ship its hottest ever TT here.  As one Audi rep described it Audi has a unique take on social media and it can be traced to the company's founder who said, "If it's made by man, it can be improved by man."  Audi asked it TT enthusiasts to tell it how to upgrade the sports car.  The answer:  a stick-shift, turbocharged RS.

Fans filled online petitions placed on Facebook.  About 10,000 responded with 2,000 saying they were interested or very interested in buying one.

John Russel Schindler, who comes from Anchorage, Alaska, is one such fan.  He says Alaskan winters make Audi's quattro a must.  And he "likes cars on steroids."  Although Audi sent invitations the Chicago show's event primarily to petitioners living in Chicagoland, Schindler trekked across the country to prove his enthusiasm.  Others came from Texas, Oregon and Kentucky.

Audi TT RS

Audi TT RS

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He likes the TT RS' three-pedal layout. There's a clutch pedal; other TTs sold here have an automated six-speed gearbox, this one gets a six-speed manual.  It does 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds.  A turbocharged five-cylinder engine with 20 valves produces 340 horsepower sent to an all-wheel-drive setup.

The Harris family (Donavan, Julie and nine-year-old Joseph) are TT RS fans.  They've owned four TTs so far.  Donavan has had his eye on the TT RS since its launch at the Geneva show.  He's intoxicated by the sound of the 2.5-liter, 340-hp mill, and wants a TT with a manual transmission.  Joseph is concerned about his father's roving eye, he wanted his father to keep an earlier TT.

Mr. Harris is a director of apparel design.  He argues that Audi interiors represent a meticulous attention to detail.  "They're not an afterthought," he says.  He's hooked on Audi's exclusive program that lets the buyer custom order interiors.

Kid's Stuff? Comes in Economy size too

Kid's Stuff? Comes in Economy size too

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