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Fasten your seat belts — we take the new Audi TT RS Coupé for a spin. And yes, its red colouring signifies danger
Eduan R. Maggo
Remember how “cute” the Audi TT was when its first generation was released in the late-’90s? All curvy and sexy and something you couldn’t wait to get your hands on? Sure, it was technically a sportscar, but early issues prevented it from being taken seriously.
But I didn’t know about that when I got my first taste, spurred down a notorious road in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs one night in the early- noughties by an M-badge Beemer on my tail.
The exhilaration that drive induced has stayed with me since. Nostalgia bias or not, but few cars have managed to replicate that feeling of going all-out in a car insecure men deemed too feminine and then keeping them in your rear-view mirror.
Suffice to say I felt like a child when I received the keys to the latest TT — the Audi TT RS Coupé quattro S tronic, to use its full name. In red, to boot — metallic “Catalunya red” to be specific.
It remains one of the most distinguishable cars on the road, with its timeless design and great flowing lines, but imbued with a more masculine demeanour. It has a more hulking presence, its eyes squinting menacingly on either side of the aggressive air intakes. Large oval-shaped tailpipes distinguish the RS from other TTs, while a fixed rear wing makes its intentions clear. The car backs up its athletic impression with the quattro all-wheel drive system that’s extremely stable and agile, and a sport suspension that corners like a dream.
The TT RS is also the first Audi to come with the striking matrix OLED taillights in a 3D design.
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Looks aside, its rich dulcet tones ensure you’ll know it’s there even if you can’t see it. The ignition and drive-mode selector buttons are mounted on the steering wheel, but my favourite button activates the sound of the sport engine, even in regular drive modes. You know, it’s the equivalent of raising your voice and infusing its timbre with authority while registering outward as completely calm — it’s just unmasking slightly that underlying threat.
But barking dogs don’t bite, they say. This one does.
This third-generation TT and second-generation TT RS model features a newly developed turbocharged five-cylinder engine, boasting 400hp and a maximum torque of 480Nm. It races from a standstill to 100km/h in just 3.7, and has a top speed of 250km/h (which can be capped at 280km/h, if you ask nicely).
The interior is cosy. It features black Alcantara leather sports seats (in front) with red accents, and has sporty aluminium inlays and a splash of carbon fibre here and there. With its standard 2+2 configuration, the back seat is more suited for children or the vertically challenged — although a full-grown man survived a round-trip from Dubai to visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi (seriously, get there already) in the back. Said journey also exposed a weakness in the Bang & Olufsen 3D surround system’s effectiveness in
But that’s of little concern from the driver’s seat — and this is a driver’s car. It isn’t taken in by head-up displays or other silliness the likes of which led to passenger-controlled infotainment displays. No, the king of this castle sits behind that multifunction sports steering wheel with its shift paddles and manages everything confidently from that position. The cockpit is updated with a sophisticated digital instrument cluster in a 12.3” LCD screen, which displays everything from maps to media to speed and beyond. The MMI touch system even has handwriting recognition technology, so you can write the name of the song you’re looking for instead of having to scroll through a lettering system, and navigate a map with your finger on the touchpad.
Given its compact size, short wheelbase and manoeuvrability, you don’t need the 360-degree park-assist camera others go gaga over, although the parking sensors and rear-view camera will help you into even the tightest parking spot.
The latest Audi TT RS Coupé is clearly more than a pretty face. The brand has always had the looks, but now it backs it up with performance and sheer driving pleasure. And it sounds great doing it.
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