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2018 Audi TT RS: Most Powerful TT Yet

Remember when the Audi TT hit the scene? It was hard not to notice it, and the worst charge that could be leveled against it, was that the Audi TT was “inoffensive.” Say what you want about it, at least it stood out from the crowd of sport coupes. But now, Audi’s TT looks like this. It’s all angles and sharp lines and comes across as some sort of distant echo of what a Korean car company will do next year.

Unfortunately, the all-new 2018 Audi TT RS is a rather fast car.

I say unfortunately, because it’s always hard to ignore, if not outright covet fast cars. Even if they’re ugly. Okay, so maybe implying the 2018 TT is ugly is a bit of a stretch, but it sure ain’t beautiful.

Eye Of The Beholder

Audi says this about how their new car looks: “The design of the new TT RS features the same timeless lines of the original TT coupe coupled with reinterpreted sporty elements that harken back the vehicle’s racing heritage.” Yeah, no. It looks nothing like the original TT. The first Gen TT was all curvilinear forms and arcs; rounded planes where all over the surfaces.

This new thing? It says “generic sports coupe” from almost every angle. Besides those four rings on the grille, how am I supposed to tell if this is an Audi? At any rate, this is all subjective, but what underpins this crumpled-paper-look exterior makes for a pretty impressive car.

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The 2018 Audi TT RS features 19-inch, five-arm design Galvano silver wheels with summer performance tires. Also available are 20-inch, seven-spoke-design, Galvano silver forged wheels with summer tires. Other styling elements include standard LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. Photo: Audi of America, Inc.

Power & Performance

Nestled beneath the hood sits a new 2.5-liter TFSI five-cylinder engine. Sadly, this is not the same amazingly strong and powerful five-banger that Audi handed over to the Rorhls and Moutons of this world (and also stuck in the first gen S6, an overlooked, yet fantastic ride). Nope, this is an all-new plant but it makes the 2018 Audi TT RS the most powerful production TT ever.

The all-new five-pot produces 400 horsepower and 354 lb-ft. of torque at all four corners. Audi ladled on the lightweight aluminum to reduce internal friction and increase power delivery, so max torque is available between 1,700 and 5,850 rpm. Mmmmm, broad-shouldered.

The new engine is less than 20 inches in length, which strikes me as being really short and compact. It also tips the scales 57 pounds lighter than the previous generation’s engine. They shaved off more than 40 pounds alone by making the upper portion of the oil pan from magnesium and the engine block from aluminum. The crankshaft is also lighter and smaller than its predecessor.

Couple this engine with a traction control system specifically calibrated for the new TT RS and you get a 0 to 60 sprint mph in 3.6 seconds. Top (track) speed is 155 mph. Or, if you’re like us here at Automoblog, you go with the optional Dynamic plus package and that top end is moved all the way up to 174 mph. Rumor has it that our Editor-in-Chief and Founder Chris Burdick is able to get from the Brandenburg Gate to Wannsee and back in less than an hour in the new TT.

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The 2018 Audi TT RS features the automaker’s distinctive engine sound. At the rear of the vehicle sit two large signature oval tailpipes – or the optional RS sport exhaust with black oval tailpipes. The unique 1-2-4-5-3 ignition sequence, which allows the ignition to alternate between adjacent cylinders and those further apart, gives the TT RS its signature sound. Photo: Audi of America, Inc.

Turbo Tactics

Things get interesting around the blower of the 2018 TT. For starters, it’s a large BorgWarner turbocharger. Curious that Audi went with BW in the first place, but also curious they went with a single, “large” unit. This was Audi’s practice back in the Groupe B days, and while it does simplify things, it can cause substantial turbo lag. The big BorgWarner turbocharger shoves air into the combustion chambers at up to 19.6 psi (or 1.35 bar, if you measure that way).

No wonder this thing cranks out 400 ponies, huh? To combat the dreaded turbo lag there’s the Audi valvelift system. The AVS changes the duration of the exhaust valve opening, depending on the throttle and engine speeds, meaning it sends more air outbound to keep the turbo spinning happily.

Transmission & Drivetrain

Gear selection is handled by a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission. The 2018 TT RS now offers a launch control program that allows a “heightened level of acceleration” via an automated clutch release. A “heightened level of acceleration” . . . that’s a laugh riot, ain’t it?

The 2018 Audi TT RS has a fully integrated Audi drive select system with four discrete drive modes: comfort, auto, dynamic, and individual. Each mode allows you to change gear shift points, steering, throttle response, and damper control.

Obviously, the TT RS comes standard with Audi’s signature quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. And, just like the days of old, when Audi was kicking butt and taking names on the world rally stages of the early 80s, the quattro system constantly adjusts the distribution of torque to maximize grip and control. I’ve personally messed with quattros with the left rear in gravel, while the right front was in a puddle the size of a kiddie-pool. The thing took off with such ferocity it elicited Elisabeth Kübler-Ross levels of mortal reflection.

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The available RS fixed sport suspension for the 2018 Audi TT RS, included in the Dynamic plus package, offers a stiffer ride for enhanced performance. Photo: Audi of America, Inc.

Suspension & Braking

Out back there’s a four-link rear suspension and at the nose, a McPherson front suspension with forged aluminum lower control arms. Magnetic ride shock absorbers are standard. The steering rack is designed so the steering ratio becomes increasingly direct as you turn to provide more precise road feedback.

Stopping is accomplished via two optional brake systems on the new TT RS. The standard setup is an eight-piston monobloc brake caliper affair with 370mm ventilated and cross-drilled discs at the front. If you really want to stop, there are available front carbon-ceramic brake discs with Anthracite Gray painted calipers as part of the Dynamic plus package. The carbon-ceramic brakes are more than 8 lbs. lighter than the traditional cast-iron rotors and offer increased resistance to brake fade.

That is, from a technical and performance standpoint, a lot to like in a car. Even if you can’t get past the styling, you’ll probably end up passing most everything else on the bahn anyway. The 2018 Audi TT RS launches this spring with an MSRP of $64,900.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photos & Source: Audi of America, Inc.