Audi TT RS Roadster convertible (2009 – 2012) review
Read the Audi TT RS Roadster convertible (2009 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.5 With lots of power and noise, the Audi TT RS Roadster is certain to turn heads. However, other cars excite more from the driver’s seat.
- Muscular looks
- Characterful five-cylinder engine
- Shockingly fast
- Silly rear wing
- Too close to the R8 on price
- Not particularly engaging to drive
At a glance
The Audi TT RS has given the standard car’s iconic lines some added muscle. It gains deeper air intakes, wider wheelarches and a pair of large exhausts. There’s a rather huge fixed rear spoiler too, which might be a bit too extrovert for some – though conveniently it’s possible to delete it from the specification. Add 18-inch alloy wheels with low-profile rubber tyres, brushed metal wing mirrors and a few RS badges and you’ve got the TT RS. The Roadster arguably looks better than its RS coupe sibling, with the sportier detailing suiting the showier Roadster’s style.
Any TT interior is special and the RS builds on that foundation. There are fine leather sports seats, brushed aluminium inlays in the dash and a flat-bottomed, perforated leather steering wheel with RS badges. It all feels beautifully finished, with all the switches, buttons and dials working with slick precision. The driver’s information system adds features specific to the RS, these including turbo boost pressure, oil temperature and even a lap timer. The hood is nicely finished too, its thick layer effectively isolating outside noise, though like all roadsters the interior feels even more special when it’s bathed in sunshine.
As high-performance roadsters go the TT RS is reasonably practical – though it loses the rear seats of the TT coupe. There’s some useful stowage inside the cabin and a decent-sized glovebox. The boot is a useful shape too and access to it is also good. It’ll carry golf clubs in there – roof up or down. Comfort is good inside, with the standard, heated sports seats providing decent support. For a real racer feel the optional sports bucket seats grip you like a limpet, but the deep side bolsters do make getting in and out trickier.
Ride and handling
RS-tuned suspension, revised steering, bigger brakes, wider wheels and tyres and quattro four-wheel drive sounds like a desirable list of ingredients. The result isn’t quite as engaging as you might anticipate, with the TT RS lacking any real steering feel and feeling a bit overwhelmed by its performance. Audi claims the quattro drivetrain is rear-biased, but it feels nose heavy, with understeer aplenty. There’s little body roll, and if you pay extra for the magnetic damper system, the ride is superb, but this car is otherwise too ordinary in a class where there’s some real excellence on offer.
There’s no denying that the 335bhp turbocharged, 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine is quick, with a 0-62mph time of just 4.6 seconds (4.4 seconds with the S tronic paddle-shifter). It makes a great noise too – all the better enjoyed with the roof down – and is very flexible, but fast as it is you’d have much more fun in a Porsche Boxster. We’d usually pick a manual gearbox in a car like the TT RS, but it’s ponderous, making the S tronic automatic the best choice.
Choose the S tronic automatic gearbox for lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy. The paddle-shifted transmission drops the TT RS Roadster into VED band J, though that only saves you £10 a year from the manual car’s band K. Average fuel economy for the S tronic is 32.8mpg and the manual returns 31mpg, but neither is likely to return more than mid-20mpg in daily use. Being at the top of the TT range, insurance won’t be cheap – at one grouping higher than the coupe equivalent. Audi offers fixed-price servicing packages payable monthly, spreading the cost of running your TT RS.
We’ve not heard reports of any reliability issues with the TT RS. Audi’s reputation is generally impressive with regards to reliability, and the TT’s no longer a new model so any early problems should be solved.
Roadsters are understandably less stiff than their coupe relatives, but Audi has strengthened the TT RS Roadster very effectively. There are roll-over hoops as standard, while a mighty arsenal of electronic driver aids, as well as big brakes and four-wheel drive should help keep drivers stay out of trouble. It hasn’t been crash tested by EuroNCAP, but it should protect you well in an accident thanks to adaptive front and side airbags, pre-tensioning seatbelts and whiplash-reducing headrests.
At the top of its range and specified accordingly you could drive the TT RS out of the showroom in completely standard guise and want for very little. Only you might regret not specifying the magnetic damper system. If you want your RS to really stand out you may also want to specify the matt aluminium and black styling packages for the exterior, while you also have to pay more for electric adjustment for the seats, a load-through hatch, and the S tronic gearbox. Go crazy and you’ll not be far off Audi R8 money.
The fastest and most expensive TT impresses with its pace from the fabulous 2.5-litre turbocharged engine. It’s beautifully-built too, and is easy to drive. Easy, but not rewarding enough, especially as, at this price point, the very nice Porsche Boxster is available. The Porsche has more prestige too, by virtue of not being offered in lesser guises and at huge volume. If you love TTs and must have the most expensive one then the TT RS is it, but really a 2.0T model is just as enjoyable to drive – if not as quick.