Here we are in the latest chapter of playing with audi's frustrating RS line. The RS 4 and RS 6 have both left me sleeping so far. The RS 5 is much better but at 3,970 pounds with driver, fuel and other fluids (plus a small satchel of Halloween candies) still weighs as much as a hippopotamus. Audi/VW Group's latest, more dynamic Quattro Haldex center diff with dual-crown wheel, however, manages the weight well. Add on all the other required optional tech like Dynamic Steering, Audi Drive Select, Sport Differential, Dynamic Ride Control and ceramic brake discs, and, by golly, you're broke. But happily so.
So here I was at Abt Sportsline in Kempten, Germany, to try its version of another slightly disappointing RS model: the not-quite-yet for U.S. sale TT RS. This Ibis White coupe lacks of the seven-speed S tronic gearbox, but at least they had a coupe ready for me and not the sissy-ass roadster. The S tronic version of the 335-hp factory TT RS is a much better car to play in than it is with the MQ500 manual six-for sure on a track and/or while desperately hammering through wild sections in the Land of Curves.
But the Abt clan wanted the TT RS-specific handheld shifter set up for that "sporty" feeling. And, guess what? I loved the freakin' thing over autobahnen and secondary roads. I was glad to have the manual and not the S tronic in these conditions. I suppose that means I'd have to have two of these if I ever became a devout customer.
This drive involves the Abt Power S tune package, to the tune of a peaking 494 hp (a 47.5 percent hike, kids) at 6525 rpm and 480 lb-ft of torque (a 44.6 percent hike, laddie). Quoted acceleration to 62 mph is now a scant 4 seconds flat and not the sluggish 4.6 seconds allowed by Quattro GmbH.
With Abt focusing much more on various types of racing contracts with VW Group and on more sales of less pricey accessory packages, we won't be seeing too many totally revised project cars for review. Case in point: This Power S version of the TT RS would add just around $4,800 to the price of your TT RS. This includes the ECU remap, a modified higher-volume BorgWarner turbocharger, and a larger intercooler. The wheels are the stunning one-piece cast Abt BR 9x20 Diamond Black alloys at about $4,144 for the set.
Other than that, this is a stock TT RS, with no Audi Magnetic Ride either. Yay! Because the AMR setup is not needed on this dimension of car, the Sachs/Mubea damper/spring standard ride working just fine all day.
After the day's driving where I ripped off a lot of German curves, accelerated and decelerated till my cup overflowed, and went as high as 274 km/h (170 mph) on the A7 autobahn, it became evident that serious drivers need to stick with a 19-inch standard dimension wheel, the Boysen-supplied Sport exhaust still sounds funky, and an Abt performance brake setup was sorely missed, the standard RS set from Audi being only OK overall.
On the copious plus side, just chucking in all that added power and torque brings the 3,197-pound TT RS as close as the RS 5 is now to meeting your RennSport expectations. Especially with the Sport button on for right-side tailpipe flap opening, throttle response, and thicker steering, the added responsiveness and nimbleness can creep up on you. Where this really becomes helpful is on the faster bits while accelerating in Third through Fifth gears if you want to jump over slower traffic or just want to hear the great shifts blend together through the (albeit underwhelming) Boysen pipes.
There's not even the Sport Plus exhaust here, either, with its blackened tailpipes and both left and right-side bypass valves that open up in Sport mode. But at least the Abt guys chose to have the stanchions on the 52.8-inch-wide optional fixed rear wing painted to match the body color rather than leaving it tacky pimpin' silver.
Now we see just how far-and with little effort-the transverse 2.5-liter W28 engine with its vermicular graphite castings can go via the Torsen diff. The now 21.0 psi max boost (up from standard 17.4 psi) and performance flow-through intercooler do simple wonders at comparatively low cost. What a switch from the 300-hp, longitudinal 2.5-liter 1984 Ur-Quattro cars Abt helped make famous.
In the end, gimme this Abt with 19-inchers (but keep the Continental ContiSportContact 5 Ps, please), S tronic, better brakes, a gnarlier Abt sport exhaust, and maybe just slightly stiffer springs, and we have the best this TT RS can be-barring a new Torsen diff that's as much fun as the new Haldex 4 unit on the RS 5.
ABT Sportsline Audi TT RS
Transverse front engine, all-wheel drive
2.5-liter I5, dohc, 20-valve; updated FSI 42-degree rotation camshafts, modified BorgWarner turbocharger and high-flow intercooler, Abt-Sportsline Power S ECU remap (21.0 psi max boost)
Six-speed manual, Haldex 4 center differential
Triangular lower wishbone, MacPherson struts w/Audi standard Sachs dampers and Muhr und Bender springs (f); Four-link structure (r); antiroll bars
Four-piston aluminum calipers; standard 14.6-inch compound ventilated front rotors with perforated friction rings; 12.2-inch compound ventilated rear rotors; two-stage ESP
Wheels and Tires
Diamond Black Abt BR cast alloys, 9.0x20;Continental ContiSportContact 5 P, 255/30
52.8-inch optional fixed rear wing with body color stanchions, extended chin splitter
Peak Power: 494 hp @ 6525 rpm
Peak Torque: 480 lb-ft @ 3315
0-62 mph: 4.0 sec.
Top Speed: 177 mph
1984 Audi UR-Quattro
Remember, if you got this lucky, your first Audi Quattro coupe drive back in the mid-'80s? Damn, I do. It's also one of those cases where I remember it more fondly than it actually merits. Nonetheless, the effect at that time merits much praise. There was nothing like it then and so it still makes my knees weak.
In its main showroom in Kempten, Abt has a black-painted Ur-Quattro that the family jacked to 350 hp and raced frequently with great success. This one here is a stock 300-hp coupe in pearl white original paint. Audi is drawing obvious parallels between the TT RS of today and this car since both have the turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder philosophy going on. Driven side-by-side, the Ur-Quattro would no doubt involve much more shoving around and body English, while these days the TT RS pretty much shoves itself around.
Just note: Those "performance" 9.5x16 solid steel wheel anchors painted body color white with 245/45 Contis-Yech. Love the living room furniture in back, too. Plus, the wonderful world of 1980s plastic up front. But what a car. -MD