A distinct engine note accompanies the 2019 Audi TT RS high-performance premium compact coupe. That’s because it has an unusual engine, a 5-cylinder unit set into an inline configuration. It evokes Audi’s illustrious motorsport heritage (5-cylinder Audi coupes were stars of rallying in the 1980s). Think of it as half a V10, the glorious engine found in the R8.
Speaking of which, for those who adore the sharp styling and precise handling of the R8 supercar, but would rather spend five figures instead of six, the TT RS could be an ideal choice. It comes packed with a lot of standard equipment, including an adaptive magnetically controlled suspension, and cool technology like the Virtual Cockpit.
Audi RS cars are the equivalent of BMW’s M variants and the higher-powered AMG models from Mercedes-Benz. So that means they have more sophisticated suspension setups than the regular cars on which they’re based, plus stronger brakes and various other additions — all in the service of high speed and higher levels of driving dynamics.
The regular and S versions of the TT are reviewed separately.
What’s New for 2019?
Even though the TT RS was a new model for last year, it receives a restyling. For example, the large grille is finished in gloss black, with a matte black surround. The air intakes are enlarged and the rear spoiler has been revised, adding winglets at each end. Color choices now include Kyalami Green, Tango Red Metallic and Turbo Blue. Some options have been reshuffled. Audi has also changed its way of expressing horsepower. Last year’s model was rated at 400 horsepower, this year’s has 394 hp. Same engine, same torque figure. See the 2019 Audi TT RS models for sale near you
What We Like
- Unusual 5-cylinder engine
- The sound and the acceleration
- Lots of standard equipment
- Crisp Audi styling
- Crisp dynamics
What We Don’t
- The steering could be more tactile
A turbocharged 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder engine generates 394 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters) sends that energy to all four wheels (Audi refers to its all-wheel drive systems as quattro).
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 19 mile per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving. Premium gasoline is recommended.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Audi TT RS ($67,895) premium compact sports car comes in coupe form only (the regular TT offers a convertible version as well).
Standard equipment includes 19-in alloy wheels wearing summer performance tires, full LED lighting, TT RS-specific front and rear aerodynamic/cosmetic treatments, fixed rear wing, oval exhaust tips, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive suspension, 8-piston front brake calipers, ventilated brake discs at each wheel, keyless entry/ignition, selectable driving modes (with engine start/stop and drive mode buttons on the steering wheel), a flat-bottomed steering wheel wrapped in leather/simulated suede, automatic climate control, 12-way power-adjustable front sport seats, Nappa leather upholstery with contrasting diamond stitching, simulated suede-covered shift knob, aluminum cabin accents, a 12.3-in Virtual Cockpit configurable driver’s information display incorporating a Sport mode, a garage door opener, a rearview camera, semi-automated parking system, front/rear parking sensors, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, CD/MP3 player, AM/FM/HD/satellite radio, a 9-speaker audio setup, voice control, a touchpad with handwriting recognition, two SD card slots, two USB ports and an auxiliary audio input.
A Technology package adds navigation, Audi Connect Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, blind spot monitoring and a 680-watt/12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.
Other options include bigger wheels, fixed sport suspension, OLED (organic light-emitting diodes for a 3D effect) taillights, adaptive rear spoiler and a few cosmetic packages.
No TT is not purchased or celebrated for its cargo space, but 12 cu ft. should accommodate a couple of golf bags, especially with the small rear seats folded down.
In addition to the mandatory protective and preventative equipment, the TT RS has eight airbags, including two for the front occupants’ knees.
No agencies in the United States have crash-tested the TT RS or even the regular TT.
Behind the Wheel
Audi has a way with interior design that encompasses class, elegance and intelligence. The cabin in the TT RS is special even in this exalted company. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is complemented by stainless steel-covered pedals. The driving position is enhanced by the comfortable and supportive front sport seats that will hold their occupants in place when the cornering becomes spirited.
Some of the usual driver aids found in luxury cars, like adaptive cruise control and self-parking features, are not available in the TT RS. No doubt the company assumes that people who buy driver’s cars have better-than-average driving skills.
Sprinting from standstill to 60 mph takes a claimed 3.6 seconds. Firstly, that’s breathtakingly quick. Secondly, it’s a full second faster than the 292-hp TTS. There’s also a particular sound to a 5-cylinder engine being revved that should please even the most casual gear nut.
What might not be so pleasing, but at this point we’re looking for hairs to split, is that the electrically assisted steering (which has replaced hydraulic assistance in virtually every vehicle) doesn’t quite transmit to the hands what the front wheels are really up to. More feedback would result in greater involvement and ultimately a better driving experience. Even so, the TT RS is a high point in the already outstanding Audi portfolio.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 BMW M2 Competition — Comes in coupe form only, with 405 hp from a turbocharged inline-6 and BMW’s traditional rear-wheel-drive layout. Not the design statement that the TT RS is, but wonderful to drive and less expensive.
2019 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport— Comes with 460 hp from a thunderous V8 set into a lightweight body. This generation of Corvette also has excellent RWD handling. Targa and convertible versions are available.
2019 Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe — Slightly pricier than the TT RS, but then it does have a 503 hp from a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8.
2019 Porsche 718 Cayman S — Accessible for a Porsche and the S version has 350 hp, along with a beautiful mid-engined/rear-drive balance. Like the Corvette, it’s only a 2-seater, but so is the TT RS in practice if not in theory.
Used Porsche 911 — Whenever someone wants a small ultra-sporty coupe, deep in their hearts, they really desire the 911 — a car that has occupied a special place within the automotive landscape since the 1960s. Check out Porsche’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program.
The fixed suspension might be worth considering if there are many track days planned. For normal day-to-day duties, the standard adaptive suspension will be more than good enough. The Technology package is tempting, not only for the B&O audio, but also for the blind spot monitoring. Find an Audi TT RS for sale