Do you leave near a tunnel? Not sure? Buy an Audi TT RS and you’ll be able to answer that question immediately. You’ll know the length, the best time to find it empty, and which gear gives the finest cacophony. This is a tunnel-seeking missile – and rivals from Porsche simply cannot match its pace or fizzing, guttural, five-cylinder soundtrack. Both attributes enhanced of course by shelling out the extra £1750 for the soft-top.
The TT RS Roadster’s insulated fabric hood opens in ten seconds while you’re on the move, giving you unadulterated access to every burble, crackle and howl from the 2.5-litre engine. The arrangement adds 90kg but the extra weight isn’t distinguishable – claimed fuel economy and CO2 take a negligible penalty and the 0-62mph sprint is a still-mighty 3.9 seconds.
Thank the engine. It’s strong and it’s flexible too, with a wide torque plateau of 354lb ft between 1700 to 5850rpm, though to really keep it on the boil you’ll want to use the slightly plasticky shift paddles behind the wheel – in automatic mode the seven-speed dual-clutch ’box can get a bit bogged down and hesitant after a long corner. Handling is similar to the coupe’s; that is to say, monumentally grippy and stable, but not particularly entertaining. Tied down in Dynamic drive mode (accessed by a new button on the steering wheel) there is next to no bodyroll, while quattro all-wheel drive makes the tyres feel like they’re coated with Araldite – great for ease-of-use and monumental corner speeds, less so for driver involvement and moments to tell the grandkids about.
That said, in an open-top car those criticisms are drowned out by a baritone blast of exhaust noise, so while overall the Cayman has the TT RS Coupe beaten, with roofs down the advantage is diminished. The Boxster is undoubtedly a finer steer, but with no barrier between you and the Audi’s exhaust noise and wind-in-the-hair rush, the TT starts to claw back some appeal. It’s a real looker too, with a pleasing mix of sharp lines, muscular metal creases and that bold, visible- from-deep-space quattro badging on the lower grille.
Overall Porsche builds purer sports cars, but they can’t match the pace and aural drama of the TT RS – both turned up to eleven by the Roadster’s lack of roof. This open-top variant feels like the more desirable TT RS.
Audi TT RS Roadster
Engine: 2480cc 20v 5-cyl
Power: 395bhp @ 5850rpm
Torque: 354lb ft @ 1700rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto, all-wheel drive
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Top speed: 174mph
On sale: Now
Go Boxster for thrills, TT RS for dramatic
Roof drops in ten seconds. 62Mph drops in 3.9 – that Boxster S will be along 0.7sec later…