We’ve been waiting for the wicked Audi TT RS for years, and this summer we’ll finally get our hands on it. Audi seems to have its timing backward — the RS should have been the first TT to show up, positioned as a performance halo car. Instead, the regular TT came here first, and it developed a bit of a chick-car image. Yes, the TT may look cute, but it’s quite the little sports car. Audi tried to remedy its cutesy image with the TTS model, which is quick, perfectly balanced, and a blast to drive, but unfortunately, it’s not available with a clutch pedal. Consequently, the TT RS has its work cut out for it in the image department, but we’re expecting serious Porsche-pummeling performance. In addition to a menacing turbo-five soundtrack, the RS will scare off its prey with a magnetorheological suspension that continually adjusts suspension firmness for crisp handling without a punishing ride. The nineteen-inch wheels can only partly obscure the TT RS’s enormous brakes — 14.6-inch cross-drilled rotors with four-piston RS-badged calipers in front and 12.2-inch vented rotors in back. With the help of a forged crankshaft, the turbo five makes mincemeat of the TT RS’s relatively light weight (about 3300 pounds) and catapults it to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Chick car? Not a chance.

Drive: 4-wheel
Trim levels: TT 2.0T Quattro coupe, TT 2.0T Quattro roadster, TTS 2.0T Quattro coupe, TTS 2.0T Quattro roadster, TT RS 2.5T Quattro coupe
Body styles: Coupe, convertible, 2- or 2+2-passenger
Engines: 2.0L turbo I-4 211/265 hp, 258 lb-ft
2.5L turbo I-5, 360 hp, 343 lb-ft
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
Passenger Volume: (coupe) 73.9 cu ft
Cargo space: (coupe, seats up/down)
13.1/24.7 cu ft; (convertible) 8.8 cu ft

The four-cylinder TT and TTS models continue unchanged for 2012, available only with a dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The big news for Audi enthusiasts is that the TT RS is coming to American dealerships. That one car signifies the return of the RS badge, the return of the manual-transmission TT, and the return of the Audi turbocharged five-cylinder engine.

Dual-stage front, side, and knee air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; height-adjustable front seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters; and active front headrests are standard. Adaptive HID headlights are optional.

All: 18-23 mpg city/25-31 mpg highway

  • Quick (TT), fast (TTS), blistering (TT RS)
  • Cute and well built
  • Seriously expensive
  • Automatic only, except TT RS
  • Image problem

The real TT sports car finally shows up.

  • BMW Z4
  • Mercedes-Benz SLK
  • Porsche Boxster
  • Porsche Cayman
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