TT-RS raises the bar – literally

Audi is always the last podium spot German performance brand. We revere BMW and AMG – and credit the Audi styling details and exceptional cabin design, but never laud its four-ringed dynamics.

Perhaps it is all a question of imitation. That Audi does not break the mould or establish a new niche, and merely tried to compete with what is already present from BMW and AMG. The issue is perhaps a fallacy of perception too. R8 was an unrivalled supercar built by Audi, with no answer from BMW or AMG.

And then there is TT. The compact German sportscar which has always struggled with its troubled identity of being part design icon, and part driver’s car. The original TT was a controversial creation, suffering stability issues which claimed lives on the autobahn, forcing Audi to alter its aerodynamics and dull the steering feedback. Two decades hence, it remains one of the most collectible Audis ever built.

For the true petrolhead new TT-RS is the one of interest. A custodian of the celebrated Audi five-cylinder heritage, the latest version of Audi’s compact ‘supercar’ features some trick LED lighting, a sophisticated digital cabin and an engine which delivers tremendous performance.

Despite being 26kg lighter the revised 2.5-litre turbo is good for 294kW and 480Nm. Factor in the traction benefits of quattro drive and a dual-clutch transmission and TT-RS will run a true 0-100kph sprint time of 3.7 seconds – which is comfortably amongst some very credible supercars. Top speed potential, ungoverned, is 280kph.

TT-RS’s compact dimensions and proportionally wide track to wheelbase ratio means you have a terrific point-and-throttle performance car, guaranteeing a vividly rewarding driving experience. With a roofline of only 1.34m, the centre of gravity is unusually low – countering bodyroll and enticing you to be as ambitious as possible when exploiting the grip of that quattro drive system.

The RS-specification exhaust ensures appropriate sound effects too and although it is now just shy of seven figures retail (R963 000), there remains something to be said for a five-cylinder performance Audi with only five doors.

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