What's New for 2012
The 2012 Audi TT RS is new to the U.S. market.
There are some rather notable European cars that, for various reasons, are not available in the United States. The 2012 Audi TT RS was one such car until an online petition garnered more than 11,000 signatures to plead with the German automaker to import this ultimate-performance TT. This outpouring of enthusiasm convinced Audi to finally bring over the TT RS, but only in limited quantities: about 1,000 examples over a two-year span.
Those lucky enough to acquire the new Audi TT RS will be treated to the most powerful TT model to date. With a turbocharged five-cylinder under the hood, the RS produces a stout 360 horsepower, which is a significant increase in output compared to the standard TT's 211 hp and the sportier TTS's 265 hp. It's even got a 25-hp advantage over the Euro-spec TT RS (though they'll likely get the same engine software upgrade as an option).
Besides more power under the hood, the all-wheel-drive TT RS also receives several upgrades in the handling department. A lower ride height, a large rear spoiler, standard adaptive dampers and sticky tires all ensure miles of back roads entertainment.
But this sort of performance doesn't come cheap. With a starting price just shy of the $60,000 mark, the TT RS costs over $18,000 more than the base TT coupe. That's more than you'd spend on a BMW 1 Series M or a Lotus Elise. At this point you'd also be within reach of the Porsche Cayman R. Among all of these choices, we expect the 2012 Audi TT RS to compare favorably as a well-rounded performer. And really, there isn't a loser among this performance-focused bunch.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Audi TT RS is a 2+2 sport coupe that is offered in one well-appointed trim level. Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires, automatic xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, heated exterior mirrors, automatic wipers, automatic climate control, 10-way power sport seats, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, Bluetooth, a lap timer and a nine-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio and auxiliary audio input. Also included is a Sport button program that alters throttle calibration, suspension settings and the exhaust note.
Available options include the Tech package, which adds a navigation system with real-time traffic, iPod connectivity with an updated music interface, a premium Bose sound system, rear parking sensors, adaptive headlights and ambient LED interior lighting. The Sport Exhaust Titanium package adds a free-flowing sport exhaust and a unique grille and wheels. Stand-alone items include heated front seats, power-folding carbon-fiber exterior mirrors and Alcantara/leather upholstery.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2012 Audi TT RS is a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-5 engine that produces 360 hp and 343 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is the only available transmission, and it sends power to all four wheels. Audi estimates the TT RS will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. As impressive as the performance figures are, the fuel economy is equally laudable, with an estimated 25 mpg in combined driving.
Standard safety features on the 2012 Audi TT RS includes antilock disc brakes, hill-hold assist, traction and stability control, front side airbags (to protect the head and thorax) and front knee airbags.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2012 TT RS, like its Audi brethren, sports a tastefully austere interior made of top-notch materials. The placement of the navigation system's controller on the dashboard isn't ideal, nor is operation as intuitive as systems offered by other manufacturers, but most other controls are straightforward and within easy reach. The TT RS foregoes flashy two-tone color treatments and carbon-fiber trim, sticking to a primarily business black air of seriousness. The racing-inspired sport seats are the main styling cue that sets the RS apart from the standard TT models.
The front seats in the TT RS provide extraordinary lateral support and sufficient comfort, but rear passengers don't have it nearly as good. The cramped rear quarters are barely adequate for children and are better suited to trunk overflow than people. These seats also fold flat, expanding the trunk's capacity from an ample 13 cubic feet to a capacious 24 cubes.
With a weight-to-power ratio of about 9.2 pounds per horsepower, the 2012 Audi TT RS certainly has enough under the hood to bring a smile to even the most jaded of drivers. The same holds true for its road-holding grip. The magnetorheological adaptive dampers keep body roll at bay, while the sticky performance tires further increase the TT RS's curvy road confidence. With the five-cylinder engine perched atop the front axle, the car has a tendency to understeer at the handling limits, but up until that point, it rails through turns with the best of them.
Drivers are also treated to an inspiring deep baritone exhaust note, but that soundtrack can become an annoyance. The constant booming drone, accompanied by some rather pronounced road noise and a stiff ride makes the TT RS a poor traveling companion on long road trips.