Sticking ‘RS' on the BACK of an Audi is an Ingolstadt tradition dating back some 15 years now. Having started with an estate car and branched out no further than saloons, it was always the symbol for improbable performance in otherwise rather austere and practical German boxes. The quintessential Q car in other words. Not any more.
The TT RS took all the subtle provisions of Audi's performance arm, design cues meant to revitalise the ordinary, and added them to a car that is, even with its current ubiquity, a tad flash. Now the definition of the ‘RS' badge has been further blurred, glued to a Roadster.
The first generation TT went without an RS-ing, probably because it was a Golf underneath, but the current car is a very different proposition. A proper performance chassis with cutting-edge suspension and vastly more sorted handling provides far greater scope for some mucking about. And in that respect nothing changes for the Roadster.
The big news is still the return of that in-line five-cylinder turbo, an engine that achieved immortality in the rally bred original ‘quattro' coupe back in the Eighties. Up from 2.3 to 2.5-litres and now benefiting from the niceties of TFSI technology, this lightweight and compact lump is now good for 345bhp, in a car that, thanks to the extensive use of aluminium in chassis and body, weighs just 60kg more than the already very lightweight Coupe.
This means that, hood up, the Roadster will still see off 62mph in 4.7secs to the Coupe's 4.6 and tank it along to 155mph, albeit with noticeably more wind noise.
But while taking advantage of your al fresco option, hit the ‘Sport' button to sharpen the throttle response and amp up the exhaust note and you get a far greater sense of speed, drama and involvement in the infinitesimally slower Roadster.
Driven in the manner intended, it does feel bigger and heavier than its nimble four cylinder brethren, but it also feels phenomenally fast and no less stiff, nor more cumbersome, than the Coupe. The torque available so low down in that five-cylinder turbo means you can be genuinely quick cross-country without exhausting yourself, or cruise with comfort and relative economy (29.7mpg is passable here).
The catch is the wedge. Carrying a £1,900 premium over the fixed-head, a TT RS drop top is going to set you back a thunderous £44,885. Whether either Coupe or Roadster are worth the mega bucks they command is debateable, and both are a far cry from the RS ideology of old. But having said that, they're not a Cayman or Boxster, which is reason enough for some.