The R8 Should Be Embarrassed

The Audi TT RS Is a Supercar at a Sports Car Price Point


July 28, 2017 Cars By Photo by Bryan Campbell
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In a flat out race, it’s entirely possible the new 2018 Audi TT RS would demolish the 2012 R8 4.2-liter V8, then Audi’s top-end sports car. In fact, to make it a properly fair fight you would have to let the TT RS go up against the 2012 R8 5.2-liter V10, and even then the little front engine sports car might still have the advantage.

The numbers don’t lie, either. The new TT RS will do 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds — a full second faster than the 2012 R8 V8. That’s because the TT RS has a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder which puts out 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, is about 150lbs lighter and has all of its power available at a lowly 1,700 rpm. Suddenly, the R8 with its 414 hp V8 doesn’t sound all that impressive.

On track, the short wheel base of the TT gives a sense that there’s no hairpin too tight; still, any twitchiness or nervous instability that would might creep in at high-speeds is immediately negated by the quattro AWD system. Going through the Left Hander at Lime Rock Raceway and quickly into the right-hand turn four, then on to the back straight, with way more throttle dialed in than necessary, there was hardly a wiggle or slide the quattro system couldn’t reign in.

Comparisons to supercars stop at the spec sheet, though. The TT’s ridiculously small foot print and compact size made winding through narrow country back roads lined with ditches and the occasional oncoming farm truck not as nerve-racking as it would’ve been in, say, an R8. In that respect the TT is really no different than a Volkswagen Beetle. The stiffer suspension wasn’t the best match for the bumpier country roads and actually caused the car to skip around a bit when driven with some pace, but it wasn’t unbearable. My biggest qualm is with the transmission. Leave it in automatic and it works just fine on track and on the road, but in manual mode, there’s a decent lag in shift time between calling on the up- or down-shift and the actual gears changing. Placement of the paddles on the wheel itself — not the actual steering column — means that in turns that require anything close to 180 degrees or more of steering input, you’re left chasing the paddle shifters around.

As an everyday driver, the TT RS — with its 400 horsepower, screaming inline-five, throaty exhaust and sport suspension — could prove to be a bit much. But, starting at $64,900, it’s a lot of car available at an extremely attainable price point. What Audi has essentially done is repackaged an old R8 and lowered the price. In other words, it’s one hell of a car for one hell of a deal.

Audi hosted us at Lime Rock Raceway in Connecticut for the day to experience the 2018 TT RS.

The More Practical Choice

The same wild engine as the TT RS, but with softer suspension and two extra doors, the RS3 is the more sensible of the two. Read the Story