Taking the lid off a powerful package
It sounds like the perfect wheeze. Take the fiercely powerful Audi TT RS and then cut the roof off. Wind in your hair, hear that engine and revel in the rest of the package which remains the same. What could go wrong?
So cutting the roof off the coupé should lose some weight, right? But then you have to strengthen the chassis and body to cope with the loss of rigidity. And that promptly adds 90kg.
Which makes the car slower. The 0-62mph time has slowed 0.2sec, while at the same time the fuel consumption is a bit worse and the price has risen by £1750.
But one of the best things about this car is the off-beat, almost Group B rally car sound of the five-cylinder turbocharged 2.5-litre engine. So what you want to do is press a button on the dashboard (so long as you’re doing under 31mph). In just a few seconds the triple-layered acoustic roof comes down. Press another button and the windbreaker goes up behind you. Now tweak the options so the exhaust has been tuned to Sport setting.
Audi TT RS Roadster
Engine: 2.5-litre five-cylinder, turbocharged, petrol
Gearbox Scven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Fuel economy: 34mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 189g/km
Now you can go. Floor it and you’ll be delighted by the noise. And the performance isn’t bad either, despite there being no great midrange thrust. Keep it spinning though and you’ll be thrilled by the performance. This is quick, and for comparison the dash to 62mph may be slower but it’s still only a third of a second slower than Audi’s R8 Spyder – which costs £130,000.
The relief is that all that extra strengthening has worked. The chassis feels taut and agile, perhaps even more so than its predecessor. With the quattro four-wheel drive system nailing the power to the road, there is ample scope for some serious attack mode, before the front eventually starts to wash out. The adaptive dampers do their job admirably and there’s enough integrity in it all to stop the ride from being too firm.
With the insulated roof up it’s pretty quiet in there, even on the motorway. The cabin is the usual classy affair with the Virtual Cockpit as the jewel in the crown. It really is class. However, with the roof down the boot can accommodate a couple of overnight bags but no more. It does limit the practicality of the car, but perhaps people that buy a car like this don’t care about such mundane thoughts.
Should you buy one? At £55,550 this is hardly a cheap proposition, and whether you think the price hike is worth it over the fixed-roof Roadster is a personal choice. You’re getting supercar pace, tons of grip and a lovely racket from the very powerful engine. It handles well, but it’s not exactly class-leading.
For that, and for similar money, we might think about a Porsche Boxster S, as it may be slower but it’s definitely superior dynamically. Mind you, that’s now got a four-cylinder engine, so whether you’d go for that does depend on how your ears feel about it all. It all comes down to the ears.