What is it?
There will be no official launch for the TT RS Plus roadster – the ultimate but limited-production version of Audi’s style-led open-top. So when we got a call asking if we’d like to drive it at the Alpine Rally, we didn’t need much persuading.
The new car has a retuned version of Audi’s turbocharged 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine and delivers 355bhp – 20bhp more than the standard TT RS.
What’s it like?
Given that it has only 1512kg to haul, it serves up true supercar-like acceleration – the sort that makes its keener rivals, the BMW Z4 sDrive35iS and Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG included, suddenly feel a little off the pace in a straight line. The traction of four-wheel drive and the rapid-fire quality of its seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox play their part in that, too.
The engine is packed full of torque, with 343lb ft on tap between 1650rpm and 5400rpm. This ensures huge flexibility and romping in-gear qualities. It also sounds the part, emitting a delicious, deep-chested warble on a wide open throttle that harks back to the original Quattro.
The problem is that the rest of the TT RS Plus fails to live up to the heightened expectation brought on by its tremendously characterful engine. On challenging roads, its aluminium-intensive chassis copes well up to a point, but it ultimately fails to deliver the sort of handling fluency that a car like this should. There’s a woodenness to the steering and sudden changes of direction induce early understeer.
It needs a more rear-biased torque split – as Audi has engineered into other models, albeit only those running its Torsen set-up. The TT RS Plus, like all of Audi’s performance models that use a transverse engine, has a less sophisticated Haldex multi-plate clutch arrangement.
The TT is beginning to show its age in other areas, too. Some aspects of the interior look disappointingly old-fashioned. There’s nothing wrong with the overall quality, which is up to Audi’s usual high standards. However, some sections of the dashboard can be traced back to the second-generation A3 – a car that was launched more than eight years ago now. It all functions nicely, though, and the driving position can be tailored to suit, with a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment.
The fabric hood, which drops beneath a hard plastic tonneau cover, can be operated on the run, something that the folding hard-tops of its performance-orientated roadster rivals fail to offer.
Should I buy one?
The TT RS Plus is a rather mixed bag, then. It’s impetuously rapid but lacks the sort of dynamic finesse to make it a truly memorable drive. The standard model offers just as much excitement at a more reasonable price.
Audi TT RS Plus roadster
Price: £52,265; 0-62mph: 4.4sec; Top speed: 174mph; Economy: 31.0mpg (combined); CO2: 212g/km; Kerb weight: 1512kg; Engine: 5 cyls in line, 2490cc, turbo, petrol; Power: 355bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 343lb ft at 1650rpm; Gearbox: 7-spd dual-clutch auto
What is it?