Though the upcoming TT crossed the pond to the U.S. in 2015 for the 2016 model year, the TT-RS won’t become available until 2017, given Audi decides to bring it to North America at all. That may be a long ways off, but it gives me enough time to paint a picture of what the next high-performance compact will bring to the table, at least until Audi unveils it to the European market. Details may still be a mystery as of 2015, but with the base TT already in the open, and based on what the previous TT-RS had to offer, speculating about the next-gen is actually simpler than it sounds.
The TT-RS saga began in 2009, 11 years after the Audi TT’s launch and three years after the TT Mk2’s introduction. Available as both a coupe and roadster , it climbed above the TTS in the TT range. The company’s first compact RS was powered by the legendary, 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine that produced 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of twist, and featured revised styling and a sportier interior. The TT-RS came to the U.S. in 2012, when the Plus model was launched. Fitted with an uprated version of the 2.5-liter turbo-five, the TT-RS had a cool 355 ponies and 343 pound-feet on tap. Coming into 2015, Audi had already unveiled the third-generation TT and began testing the second-gen TT-RS.
FEBRUARY 8, 2016 - NEXT AUDI TT RS CAUGHT TESTING I SWEDEN
OCTOBER 12, 2015 - AUDI TT RS TESTING CLOSE TO NURBURGRING
In our rendering here, the TT’s horizontal slats were replaced by a honeycomb mesh
Naturally, the new TT-RS will feature a design based on the third-gen TT, meaning it will borrow the base car’s sharp front grille and redesigned headlamps and bumper. In our rendering here, the TT’s horizontal slats were replaced by the honeycomb mesh seen on other recent high-performance Audis, such as the 2015 RS3 , while the apron received larger air intakes and a silver blade-like element with vertical fins on each side.
Beefier fenders and side skirts, as well as newly designed wheels enhance the TT-RS’ profile. Around back, expect a revised bumper with an integrated diffuser-like piece and a trunklid spoiler.
*Audi TT interior shown here.
Much like any other RS-badged Audi model, the TT’s interior will blend sportiness, luxury and state-of-the-art features
Much like any other RS-badged Audi model, the TT’s interior will blend sportiness, luxury and state-of-the-art convenience features. Black will probably continue as the dominant color in the cockpit, but the light-colored upholstery Audi usually offers with RS models, as well as the aluminum inserts and the contrasting stitching, will brighten up the place. Nappa leather for the RS bucket seats and leather/Alcantara for the steering wheel will come standard, as will the stainless-steel pedals and footrest, and the MMI infotainment system.
Expect the options list to include S sport seats with diamond pattern, carbon shell and integrated side airbags, and an interior design package with red accents similar to the one available in the RS3. Be prepared to pay a hefty premium for such features, though.
*Audi RS3 engine.
The 2017 TT-RS will be motivated by the same turbocharged, 2.5-liter, five-cylinder mill
Details are limited, but I do know that the 2017 TT-RS will be motivated by the same turbocharged, 2.5-liter, five-cylinder mill. The engine will benefit from a number of upgraded internals that are likely to increase output to around 375 horsepower, 20 ponies more than the outgoing TT-RS has to offer.
Audi could even opt to increase the TT-RS’ output to more than 400 horsepower by means of a larger turbocharger, but such a decision depends on whether the Germans will be able to decrease throttle lag.
Also lighter than its predecessor, the upcoming coupe will be faster too. The extra power should enable the TT-RS to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in about four seconds, while maintaining its top speed in the 175 mph area.
With the U.S.-spec TT set to arrive for the 2016 model year, we’re still at least one year away from the TT-RS’ arrival. Not to mention Audi has yet to confirm this version for North America. But if the TT-RS crosses the pond, expect it to fetch more than $60,000 before any options are added.
Definitely an enticing machine, the TT-RS faces stiff competition from Porsche, a brand that’s also under Volkswagen ’s huge umbrella. Not one, but two Porsche-badged sports cars compete against the TT-RS — the Cayman and the Boxster. Available in three versions in the U.S., the Boxster seems like a proper proposition for the TT-RS when wearing a GTS badge. The range-topping model has 330 horses, which are sent to the rear wheels through either a manual transmission or a PDK. It can reach the 60-mph mark from a standing start as quick as 4.4 seconds, and although that may seem a little slow compared to the TT-RS, the Boxster delivers unmatched handling and balance. The only downside is its sticker, which is $73,500.
Those looking for a bit more power and an engine mounted closer to the seats can opt for the Cayman. In GTS trim, the Cayman comes with 340 ponies and the same choice of manual or PDK transmissions. It needs 4.5 to 4.6 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph, depending on gearbox, and it can reach a top speed of 177 mph. Although slower on paper than the TT-RS, the Cayman and its 2.7-liter flat-six make for an enticing combo that only a manufacturer like Porsche can put together. Like the Boxster, the Cayman GTS is also much more expensive than the TT-RS, with a base price of $75,200.
Find out more about the Cayman and Boxster in our detailed reviews here and here.
The 370Z Nismo just got updated for the 2015 model year, gaining a more appealing exterior design, interior and suspension. Albeit prettier than its predecessor, the refreshed Nismo doesn’t benefit from an upgraded engine. However, the 3.7-liter V-6 and its 350 ponies are enough to give the TT-RS a run for its money. Although it’s the slowest of the pack with a 0-to-60 mph sprint of five seconds, the 370Z Nismo is quite nippy on the track, thanks to its exceptional balance. The big news is that Nissan finally added an automatic transmission to the options list, meaning the Nismo can be had with a seven-speed unit that features Downshift Rev Matching and Adaptive Shift Control.
Pricing for the 2015 370Z Nismo starts from $41,990. That makes it cheaper than both the Cayman/Boxster and the TT-RS, and the obvious choice for a tight pocket.
Learn more about the 370Z Nismo in our full review here .