Looking for four rings, two seats, one powerful engine and wind in your hair? The Audi TT RS Roadster is a bit of an icon among enthusiasts, and in 2018 it’s as exciting as ever. Its distinctive silhouette is present and correct, it’s still fun to drive and it boasts an excellent cabin as usual.
The RS is also the fastest TT Roadster available, and although that will translate to “most expensive” too, its 0-62 time of 3.9 seconds indeed makes it one of the fastest road cars on the planet at the moment.
OSV takes a closer look at what the Audi TT RS Roadster is all about.
On The Road
There are few – if any – cars that are better driven in this sector than the RS Roadster. Its steering is razor sharp, and Audi has done an excellent job keeping its weight down. It weighs around the same as it did last time, which means performance and handling are just as good.
There have been weight-saving measures that have brought down the Audi’s weight in certain areas, too; for example, the roof mechanism is lighter than its predecessor.
That said, the Roadster version is heavier than the TT Coupe, but this is the case with all cars that have a removable roof. Moreover, there’s not much difference between the two behind the wheel. This one is settled in corners, feels stable and doesn’t lean too much at all.
Four-wheel-drive is available and it arms the car with plenty of grip, but for the sake of absolute transparency, we’d argue that the Porsche Boxster is a tad more exciting to drive by virtue of the fact that it’s got a rear-wheel-drive system.
The TT Roadster’s suspension is a little on the firm side but the car does a decent job of smoothing out broken surfaces. However, badly rutted roads will be noticeable and the car crashes over potholes.
In terms of its engine, the Audi TT RS Roadster is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-pot petrol engine that gets Quattro four-wheel-drive as standard. It’s paired up with a 7-speed S Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission and clocks 0-62 at just 3.9 seconds. Top speed is set at 155mph but if that sounds a bit boring, you can top it up to 174mph for an extra £1,400.
Audi TT RS Roadster Interior, Design & Build
Inside, it’s once again impossible to find fault with an Audi interior. The brand’s Virtual Cockpit digital display comes as standard, and there are certain touches that distinguish the Roadster from the TT Coupe – not least the fact that this has just the two seats.
Then there’s the removable roof. Whether it’s up or down, the TT strikes a pose.
Referring back to the Virtual Cockpit, as well as relaying all kinds of useful information to the driver, the system also removes the need for clutter on the dashboard. Gone are the traditional dials as it packages driving data, the infotainment system and sat-nav into one place.
At first, it might take a bit of getting used to but a rotary dial improves its user-friendliness. The multifunction steering wheel, meanwhile, houses a few extra buttons. Again, getting to grips with it might take a bit of time but once you’re up and running you’ll be just fine.
The seats have got brand new air vents which will come in handy when the roof is down and interior quality from Audi continues to amaze us. The leather trim is sumptuous and the metal switchgear looks as chunky as ever.
And refinement with the roof up? It’s good and there’s barely any vibration.
In terms of how practical the car is, usability was never going to be its strong suit but it boasts a 280-litre boot. That makes it 25-litres smaller than the Coupe and its opening is on the small side, but it is quite long.
Other than that, storage spaces include a few small storage cubby holes, a cup holder (just one), and some slender door pockets. The doors open wide for easy access and it’s worth remembering that this is strictly a two-seater. If you want four, you’d need to look at the TT Coupe.
Equipment & Safety Of The Audi TT RS Roadster
All RS Roadster’s get the likes of Quattro-four-wheel-drive, a choice of four interior colours as well as 11 for the exterior and three for the roof, leather and Alcantara-trimmed seats, automatic LED lights, sports seats with lumbar support, 19” alloys, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, Bluetooth and a digital radio.
Safety-wise, there’s always the worry that a car as small and quick as this will test our nerves, and although it’s yet to be crash-tested by Euro NCAP, the TT Coupe only scored 4/5 for its own test.
The standard Roadster is a bit short of safety kit, but optional extras include traffic-sign recognition, parking assistance, lane-keeping assistance and blind-spot monitoring.
Costs Of The Audi TT RS Roadster
Prices for the new car start out from around £54,200. For more information on our leasing deals, check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, it’s unsurprising that the TT RS model is the most expensive to run out of all the TT Roadster’s. It’s powered by a massive 394bhp, Quattro engine that returns 34mpg at best while emitting as much as 189g/km of CO2.
It’s also the most expensive model to ensure, and sits in insurance group 42 out of 50.
Pros and Cons Of The Audi TT RS Roadster
0-62 is dispatched in less than 4.0 seconds, which makes this one of the fastest cars in this sector.
Awesome Quattro System
Four-wheel-drive is standard on all models and it provides a reassuring amount of grip.
The new TT looks and feels like it’s always done. Welcome back.
The standard TT is almost £25,000 cheaper.
If the numbers don’t add up – and 34mpg economy might not for some of you – high running costs could prove to be a deal breaker.
Audi TT RS Roadster vs Alfa Romeo 4C Spider vs Porsche 718 Boxster Roadster
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Audi TT RS Roadster review.
Audi TT RS Roadster vs Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
The new Alfa Romeo 4C Spider might be expensive but it’s also an intoxicating proposition. It’s one of those cars that will get your heart pumping, and in all honesty? The heart might rule head when it comes to buying one in the first place.
To compete with the Audi, the Alfa Romeo, first of all, has to be very fast. Its relatively small, the turbocharged 1.75-litre engine develops 237bp, which is enough to cover the 0-62 sprint in 4.5 seconds. That’s a good burst of speed and both the engine and the exhaust sound great, but it’s not as fast as the TT.
Moreover, when you press the accelerator there’s a noticeable delay that can frustrate. It’s not the easiest car to steer either, while coarse surfaces will unsettle it.
On the other hand, the steering offers lots of feel and there’s no denying that, on the whole, the Spider is an exciting car to drive.
Running costs? It returns 40.9mpg at best, which makes it a bit more expensive to run than the Coupe variant, while emissions stand at 161g/km of CO2. That’s actually impressive for such a fast car.
Inside, the Alfa Romeo doesn’t compare favourably with the Audi. The interior design is bland and won’t inspire drivers, while the suspension is far too firm.
But it’s the quality of the cabin that disappoints us the most. There is evidence of low-rent plastics here and there, and while we appreciate the carbon-fibre, it will scratch pretty easily. A neat TFT screen is an attractive addition and the pedals are made of aluminium, however, while each model gets a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Is the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider practical? Not exactly. Its 110-litre boot is put to shame by the Audi and it’s difficult to use. Worse still, to lower the roof, you have to operate it by hand. And when the roof is down, it takes up whatever precious boot space you had in the first place.
Audi – £54,200
Alfa Romeo – £58,820 – £67,820
Audi TT RS Roadster vs Porsche 718 Boxster Roadster
The new Porsche 718 Boxster Roadster offers one of the best driving experiences you could ever have. It’s also now less expensive to run – and even faster.
On the road, performance and handling are exceptional. The car’s esteemed flat six-pot petrol engine has been abandoned, but while there was an outcry about this at first, buyers must surely come to realise that the Boxster is actually better than it’s ever been.
Porsche have reworked the suspension setup, the Boxster always feels settled and the steering is super precise. And because the Porsche gets a mid-engined layout, it feels brilliantly poised.
In terms of its engines, there are two available. A 2.0-litre petrol unit powers the entry-level model, and it develops 296bhp while completing the 0-62 dash in 4.7 seconds.
However, we expect most buyers will want to get stuck into the 2.5-litre petrol unit which develops 345bhp and has a 0-62 time of 4.2 seconds if you add the Sport Chrono pack and pair it up with the PDK automatic transmission. That’s not enough to make it as fast as the TT but the range-topping Boxster S gets the same engine but with 361bhp, which is enough to sprint from a standstill to 62mph in 4.1 seconds.
Still not as quick as the TT, but is it really all about who can go the fastest? The Boxster is agile, easier to drive than last time … but doesn’t sound as good as it once did.
On the other hand, it’s cheaper to run. The standard Boxster can return 40.9mpg if you upgrade to the PDK automatic ‘box, while the Boxster S is good for 38.7mpg if you again upgrade to the automatic. Sticking with the manual transmission means you’ll pay more.
Inside, there have been a few minor changes to the Boxster’s cabin. It gets a brand new infotainment system which has helped to modernise things, while the air-vent trims have been reworked. Each model also gets a smaller steering wheel.
Apart from that, the Boxster is again a well-built and sophisticated place to spend your time in. Disappointingly, however, leather upholstery isn’t standard, although sports seats trimmed in faux leather and Alcantara are.
Is the Porsche 718 Boxster Roadster practical? Reasonably. It gets two boots – one at the front and one at the back – and together they offer a combined load capacity of 280-litres. That’s on par with the Audi but the TT has the edge because its boot space is all in one place.
There are plenty of modest storage spaces here and there, the Porsche’s roof takes just nine seconds to lower, but the door trays are way too small to be useful.
Porsche – £44,758 – £53,714
Verdict Of Our 2018 Audi TT RS Roadster Review
The TT is like one of those cool older siblings who you looked up to as a kid. They took you to all the best places, lived a bit dangerously and got you home after dark. And you couldn’t get enough of ‘em!
As ever, the new model is here to add a bit of spice to your life. As distinct and as TT as ever, it’s hyper-fast, grippy, superbly built, and huge fun to drive. In short, if it feels like there’s something missing in your life right now, that something is probably the Audi TT RS Roadster.