We were about to embark on a journey, a little road trip up North around the Lake District with a few deviations into Yorkshire; but we needed a car. We could have taken my mud covered 4×4 workhorse but then Audi had dangled a rather fine carrot in front of us and it was just too good an opportunity to turn down. I must admit that I have never owned an Audi, but I had always looked fondly at the brand as being one of the cool kids in the class; and now it was time to befriend that kid.
I love knowing the history behind design and innovation and Audi’s history certainly satisfies that thirst. It started with the pioneer August Horch, a German automobile engineer, he started his business A.Horch & Cie in 1899; sadly after differences with the board he left in 1909 and started a new company, though his family name was now protected by trademark, so he literally took the Latin translation of ‘Horch’ (‘Hark’ or ‘Listen’ in English) and Audi was born. Ironically in 1932 Audi and A. Horch & Cie along with DKW and Wanderer merged to become Auto Union AG, four companies represented by four rings looped together which we see in the 4 rings of Audi today. A rich history of Germanic culture, design and innovation.So, what was going to be our chariot for the coming week? My brother, a true gearhead from the moment he received his first Corgi toy car, recently said that your car should make you giggle (like an excited child) from the sight of it through to the whole driving experience. Well Audi must have heard him as what arrived made Cheeky and I laugh in fits of excited giggles and grin continuously like the local village idiot. Audi had sent us the TT RS Coupé quattro Sport Edition S tronic, in the most amazing luminous Kyalami Green, this was certainly going to be a fun road trip, I was already enjoying the car and I had not even opened the door yet! I had driven a colleague’s Audi TT when they first came out and that had been a very pleasant experience, now 15 years later and we were at the third generation of the TT Coupé and it looks like this beast had certainly evolved over this time, and along with 40 years of quattro evolution the TT must be some kind of Apex predator by now. The dynamic appearance was how the designers imagined the future to look back in the 1920s with big sleek Teutonic lines, shapes and presence. The large honeycomb grill and expansive lateral air inlets look ready to devour the very tarmac that lies ahead, the 20” wheels with ‘7-spoke rotor’ design look like a collection of Ice axes ready to ascend a wall of ice. With no hint of the typical matt black plastic trim found on so many cars, this animal is made up of either libidinous glossy black or radioactive Kyalami Green; the lines and angles that connect this car together would make the Golden Mean wet itself with excitement. This was just the exterior!The TT RS may be mighty handsome on the outside but you know what they say ‘it’s what’s on the inside that counts’ and this car certainly has it going on inside. Minimalism is key here, with 1920s futuristic propeller style air vents with all the heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls ingeniously situated at the centre or each vent. Along with Audi’s ‘Virtual Cockpit’ bringing many of the controls and dials together on a digital screen means that Audi have reduced the amount of buttons and dials throughout the interior, making for a slick and yet orderly interior. For a sports car there is a good amount of space, I am 6’2″ and had no problem entering or exiting the TT and once in the driving seat there is plenty of space and good visibility too. The Audi phone box with wireless charging is a great concept, and the 305 litre boot which extends to 712 litres once the rear seats are collapsed leaves plenty of space for luggage. This TT came with the Comfort and Sound pack which includes front and rear parking sensors along with reversing camera plus Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound system along with keyless entry, it also included great tech like the tyre pressure monitoring system. The Virtual Cockpit is the centre of Audi’s Infotainment, navigation and smartphone interface; bringing speed, revs, fuel, car stats, service schedule, stereo and satnav all under one umbrella. The Virtual Cockpit can be controlled by voice like Knight Rider or via the large dial – so no need to pinpoint small icons with a finger whilst driving. The myAudi app can also control the system, so Cheeky my co-driver could control the music and navigation via her smartphone and we could use her apps on the Virtual Cockpit, so Spotify and Waze were the order of the day. Apparently the myAudi app can also find where you parked the car when dementia strikes, remotely lock and unlock the car from anywhere and you can send destinations to the satnav from the comfort of your armchair plus you can send vehicle data to your chosen service centre!So we have talked about its good looks, but what is under the bonnet? At the heart of the TT RS Coupé quattro Sport Edition S tronic sits a 2.5 litre TFSI 5 cylinder engine… What does this mean? I hear you ask. The TFSI stands for Turbo Fuel Stratified Injection which means fuel is injected directly into the engine removing heat from the intake air creating higher compression, improved efficiency and responsiveness. In fact Audi has won the “International Engine of the Year Award” with this 2.5 TFSI engine not just once but for nine years in a row! This is accompanied by the 7-speed S tronic and the quattro all-wheel drive that distributes the power as required between the wheels. Along with RS tuning, RS sports suspension this is the pinnacle of the TT series from Audi Sports.
Hit the big red ‘start’ button and you can hear the heart of the beast start pounding away, it revs on start up as if it is raring to start the fun. Apparently the unique rhythmical sound of this award winning engine is due to the pattern of the ignition of the cylinders, with a firing order of 1-2-4-5-3 alternating between adjacent cylinders and cylinders which are far apart; how very apt since Audi means ‘listen’ in Latin! The heart of this animal delivers 400 horsepower and 480 Newton metres of torque going to all four wheels, resulting in 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 3.7 seconds with a top speed of 155.3mph ( 250 km/h) or you can request Audi to unleash the true beast within and tweak the engine to a whopping top speed of 174.0 mph (280 km/h), off to the Nürburgring track then. So how did this translate to on the road experience? The first part of the journey consisted of dual-carriageways and motorways venturing north. It was certainly a comfortable and very pleasant environment to spend time in; it is worth taking some time to tweak the seat position to stop your legs aching by raising and extending the front of the seat base to support your thighs, once done you can just keep truckin’. The Engine is pretty quiet on the motorways and there is very little wind resistance noise which makes for a very soothing ride until you hit the patchwork concrete section of the M25, which generally causes your brain to hurt. The TT RS certainly makes one appreciate the quality roads and dread the bad roads with bumps and potholes. Once in a blue moon when the road ahead was clear and there was space to push the pedal to the metal; the TT RS came into its element climbing through the 7 gears with haste, whilst ascending from a deep purr to a loud roar with formidable urgency, I almost felt sorry for the TT RS as one could feel its eagerness to keep accelerating, but alas in no time at all it reaches the UK speed limits. One can also have a little extra fun by influencing the quattro drive and other characteristics such as steering, seven-speed S tronic, exhaust flaps and engine characteristics by using the ‘Drive Select’ handling system. The Audi TT RS is certainly comfortable for long road trips.Once in the Lake District, we had to try the legendary mountain pass – The Wrynose Pass. One story says that the name of Wrynose comes front the old Norse word ‘Vreini’ meaning stallion which alluded to the amount of horsepower or a good strong horse required to climb the pass, as this is the steepest pass in England with a 30% incline or decline in places, so no better place to put the Audi TT RS through its paces. It was raining hard with water pouring back down the road and fog clinging to the hills, this felt more like a scene from the Lord of the Rings. As we hit the steep inclines, it felt like the car was tweaking the torque and power distribution to the wheels all to good effect, the tyres seemed to stick to the road and would not give in to the wild conditions. This inspired utter confidence as it climbed its way up and up to the very top of the pass, which was now shrouded in mist. I would not have been surprised if we had stumbled across the halls of Valhalla at this point!
What goes up must come down and the Audi TT RS displayed its skill set once again. Twice we met 4x4s who had got “stuck” on steep bends, with one saying he could not move, this was possibly through fear! Putting the TT into reverse and back up the steep road through the thick clouds and driving rain the engineering did not falter… this car is way more than just some sports car!The Audi TT RS Coupé TFSI 400PS quattro Sport Edition S tronic is something special and people seem to sense it, as the attention that it drew was certainly positive – though the luminous green may have had something to do with that. This creation is suited to many things from full on sprints and long distance marathons to steep adventures over mountain passes, gently bumbling through picturesque Lake District villages or venturing through the barren Yorkshire Dales. The car has beautiful control, from the power that its engine emits, to the quattro and its ever adapting torque distribution and it has a strong and steadfast feel sticking to the road like a magnet. Obviously I have not taken it onto a track, so I have no idea if one can bend it to one’s will on corners or if it grips in every situation, perhaps for another day? What I love about this car is that despite its raging colour, crazy performance and full throttled sound it is actually very practical for a sports car. This was one experience that I did not want to end; perhaps we could have just kept driving north to Scotland, take the boat to Scandinavia and onwards to the edges of the map where it says ‘Here be Dragons’ and ultimately where this particular green Audi TT RS Coupé can be amongst its own.
For more information on the Audi TT RS Coupé visit Audi.co.uk.