REVIEW | The Audi TT RS Coupé is an exhilarating driver's car, but it can't outrun the future

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2021 Audi TT RS
2021 Audi TT RS
Caylene Valentyn | Media House Made

• The TT RS is one of Audi's finest sports cars and could be hailed as a mini R8.

• The car is powered by a 294kW five-cylinder petrol engine.

• Pricing for the TT RS Coupé starts at R1 083 000.

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When talking about performance models from Audi's side of the spectrum, we quickly recall the brilliant R8 or perhaps even something like the RS 6 Avant. Stupendous performance cars they are, never failing in setting the world alight. Yet, while we often ponder over the brilliance of these more popular vehicles, something else offering proper shunt and performance deserves just as much attention.

The Audi TT, now in its third generation, has been around since 1998, and its shape has been left largely unchanged. Bar ironing out a few creases and making the design more aerodynamic, the TT is one of the few cars in the automotive world to have stayed true to its design ethos. One glance, and you are aware of just what this car is.

Headlining the TT range is the RS model, available in both Roadster and Coupé body styles. Though this derivative was only introduced in 2012, it elevated the sports car to the next level, with the current model the best interpretation of this coupé sports car to date.

Audi TT RS
2021 Audi TT RS

It's a mini R8!

The TT RS Coupé - the one in review - is a very compact vehicle, effectively only offering seating for two people despite two rear seats. Its measurements are not too vast either, coming in at over 1.3m in height and 1.8m wide. You are fully aware that this car is not made for families, but for the person who truly enjoys a blast up (and down) their favourite piece of tarmac.

However - and here comes the juicy part - clamber into the low-slung bucket seats and cast your eyes over the interior. It reminds strongly of its bigger brother, the R8. The instrument panel in front of the driver, for instance, is very simplistic in design, but relays every bit of information pertaining to your drive and the car's condition.

The rotary knob between the front seats and its surrounding buttons are used to control the various multimedia functions, while the steering wheel plays home to satellite controls to ease media operations further. The dashboard is devoid of everything, except for the air vents and a select number of controls. It definitely is a case of 'less is more', adding to the cabin's ambiance and feel.

Audi TT RS
2021 Audi TT RS

Achingly fun to drive

As with any car, specifically a sports car, it needs to have something unique, and it's no different with the TT RS. Giving the car its heart and soul is one of the most special engines Audi has produced yet, sending 294kW and 480Nm to all four wheels. Under the bonnet, we find the Four Rings' turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine. This engine has done duty in a few of Audi's cars, but has found a permanent home in the TT RS and upcoming Audi RS 3.

The TT RS rockets off the line, clearing 0-100km/h in less than 4.0 seconds, continuing the acceleration process onto an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. Though speed is one of the car's best aspects, the way it handles dynamically is even better! Steering input is taut and direct, inspiring confidence to trust the technologies that aid the driving experience.

Audi's seven-speed S Tronic gearbox channels power between the engine and tyres. The gearbox's downshifts are not as quick as the upshifts, but it does little to detract from the performance enclosed in the car.

Audi TT RS
2021 Audi TT RS

In summary

The TT RS is perhaps one of the finest driver's cars to come from Audi and reminds strongly of the R8. And though nothing can compare to that halo sports car, the TT RS offers potential buyers a chance to reach out and sample something similar. It's achingly good and entices with every passing kilometre.

Sadly, though, the TT and TT RS' time will be coming to an end. From the year 2026, every new Audi launched will be an electric vehicle, indicating that the internal combustion engine's (ICE) relevancy at Audi has become obsolete. And with 2026 just five years away, and the TT and TT RS receiving an update recently, it's safe to assume that this could very well be the last iteration of the TT RS. A swansong at its best.

The automotive world is committed to an electric future, and Audi is working towards an electric portfolio in most of its markets by 2030, leaving no room for sports cars like the TT RS. It's a sad reality, but an unavoidable one. And while we look to the future, nothing is withholding us from enjoying all of this now.

Price: R1 083 000 (Audi's five-years or 100 000km Freeway Plan is included)

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