2012 Audi TT-RS Track Review

360 horsepower is a lot. Or at least, it should be. But looking at the 2012 Audi TT-RS's spec sheet, the 360 figure elicited a casual "that's nice" in my mind. Why?

The answer might be the sheer abundance of 400- and 500-horsepower cars out there today; power hitters like the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Nissan GT-R. Heck even the Hyundai Genesis sedan can be had with a 429-horsepower V8.

I was thinking about this horsepower desensitization as I sat idling in a black TT-RS coupe at Spring Mountain Raceway in Pahrump, Nevada. With helmet on and "S" button pushed (to stiffen the suspension and sharpen engine response) I waited for direction to enter the track's west loop. Flag up, clutch out, throttle pinned and, after a very brief pause while the turbos spooled, all internal conversation stopped. The TT-RS is fast. Not just in a cold, numeric, 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds sense, but in a visceral, pressed into the seat, "wow that corner got here quick" sense.
With my brain properly recalibrated by physics I concluded that 360 horsepower in an Audi TT is plenty.

The pinnacle of Audi's TT lineup, the 2012 Audi TT-RS swaps the base car's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for a turbocharged five-cylinder, increasing the TT's output from 211 to 360 horsepower. Other RS upgrades include an adaptive magnetic suspension, 14.6-inch front brake rotors with four-piston calipers, and a two-mode exhaust system that uses a flap to switch between quiet and loud modes. A host of interior and exterior tweaks includes special 19-inch wheels, a nicely contoured sport steering wheel and a fixed rear wing. On our shores the TT-RS is only available as a coupe, only offered with a six-speed manual transmission and will only be sold in limited numbers over the course of the 2012 and 2013 model years.
With all of its performance bits the2012 Audi TT-RS delivers an appropriately exhilarating on-track experience, providing thrills that extend well beyond straight-line acceleration. The RS handles really well with tight responsive steering, lots of grip and a willingness to adjust its attitude with throttle and brake inputs. About to miss the corner's apex? Let off the throttle slightly and the line tightens. With that said, a quick complaint: During our test Audi didn't allow us to disable the stability control system or even put it into the more permissive sport mode. We suspect the TT-RS might be down for some truly harrowing track shenanigans but for now we're left to speculate. Rest assured if you actually buy a TT-RS and take it to your local race track you'll be able to defeat the stability control system before it frowns on your fun. 
Ultra-demanding performance enthusiasts might find one of its rear-drive competitors more engaging, but the all-wheel-drive TT-RS is a welcome option. All-wheel drive helps get power to the ground, but also means quick lapping with less chance of a spin, boosting driver confidence. At $57,725, including destination, the Audi TT-RS is also a bargain compared to its primary competitor, the less powerful and more expensive - by about $10,000 - Porsche Cayman R.

The TT line deserves a proper top-tier performance model and the TT-RS fills that role nicely. If you manage to snag one of the 1,000 cars being imported to the U.S., I'm sure you'll have a grand time driving it. Let us know what it's like with the stability control system off.


>More Latest News and Reviews

 

Advertisement
Advertisement
New Car Spotlight

Advertisement

Advertisement
Advertisement
Thanks for Supporting
Kelley Blue Book.
We deliver up-to-date car values, expert reviews and unbiased reporting at no
cost to you. To do this, we display ads from only trusted automotive partners.

To continue on our site, simply turn off your ad blocker and refresh the page.