Andrew’s been on quite a romp of modern Porsche 911s. But there’s a really compelling alternative, I think – for about the same money as most of the modern Porsche range, you can jump into near supercar-level performance and exotic looks with the Audi R8.
The ‘regular’ V10 cranked out 540 horsepower, and hooked to the S-Tronic 7-speed gearbox is good for 3.5 second blasts to 60. And that speed is linked to all-four wheels with a gorgeous body and interior full of the most modern electronics. Sure, this isn’t a ‘Plus’ model, but there are a few reasons to like this one…mostly, for me, it’s the color combination. But it’s got a few hidden mods to help out with the perceived lack of go:
Twenty years ago, the Audi TTS would have been a very exciting proposition. Built on the universally praised MQB platform, the third generation 8S TT is lighter than the original, better balanced, and more powerful. With close to 300 horsepower and 280 lb.ft of torque from the 2.0 TSFI turbocharged inline-4, it’s a Golf R in a slinky dinner dress. Equipped with the impressive dual-clutch 6-speed S-Tronic transmission and launch control, the results are hard to argue with: 0-60 in 4.2 seconds and a quarter mile in 12.8 at 108 mph. Unthinkable for anything but the most exotic exotics a few generations ago, this is all wrapped up in a reasonably affordable and attractive package that is usable year-round and has few drawbacks.
But the TTS falls into a no man’s land today. It’s $10,000 more expensive than the base TT – already quite an impressive car. It’s also more expensive than the more practical Golf R on which it is based. A lot more expensive. But more troubling, with a few options like today’s it is also dearer than a base Porsche 718 Cayman. And while it soundly out-drags the base Cayman, which would you rather impress friends in?
I’ll be the first admit that I’ve never really liked the S5. It felt as though Audi could have done better and didn’t. It’s always looked fat, flat and uninspired to me, and that’s not helped by the engine selections or the color pallet. When it first emerged it immediately seemed to me that it was a direct copy of the E92 BMW, but with much less exciting engines. Don’t get me wrong – the E92 isn’t my favorite BMW design, either. But it somehow managed to have more presence than the A5/S5 duo in pretty much any iteration – especially so when it came to the vibrant M3. It was almost primed to take on the E46 M3, but when the 414 horsepower V8-laden E9x emerged, the S5 was immediately second fiddle. It’s sole trump card over the M3 was that they came standard with all-wheel drive. That’s about it.
So what’s one doing here? Well, occasionally in the sea of gray, dark gray, light gray, black, dark black, silver, light silver or white S5s, a really pretty one emerges for sale. Case in point: this Audi Exclusive Glut Orange example. Suddenly the S5 makes a lot more sense – why didn’t they sell them ALL in this color?
Want to feel very special, drive a great sports car and stand apart from the crowd but don’t have a million dollars for a Porsche 911?
No problem. I have the solution.
Sure, you could do what I suggested a few weeks ago and buy the ‘affordable’ and ‘useable’ supercar – Audi’s R8. With 600 plus horsepower from a screaming V10 and “arrest me now, I broke the speed limit the moment I turned the key” looks, you’re sure to draw attention and smiles. But even though relative to the used 911 market these cars are bargains, you’re saying ‘Come on, Carter – they’re still $170,000’. And you’re right – for most, they’re only affordable if you would consider them a primary residence rather than a weekend warrior.
So if you need to actually commute, what about Audi’s TTS? Okay, it’s not the 400 horsepower TT RS – I get it. But it retains the walk-on-water MQB platform and pairs it with the Golf R drivetrain – good for 292 horsepower and 280 lb.ft of torque driving all four wheels. Paired with the S-Tronic DSG dual-clutch, you’re capable of blitzing 60 mph in 4.6 seconds yet still this car returns 27 mpg on the highway. Unlike the R8, it’s also got rear seats (albeit quite small) and a hatchback that doesn’t contain a V10. While that’s disappointing when showing off to your friends, the reality is that occasionally you need to carry something larger than your ego.
But though it lacks the headline-grabbing figures and cross-marque instantly recognizable alpha-numeric nomenclature of its more famous siblings, the TTS fails to disappoint with performance and incorporates all the cutting-edge technology, including the mega-cool virtual dashboard. You can also spec it out in a bunch of really cool colors, such as the Vegas Yellow I looked at on the R8s. But this particular one, as you’ve seen, is a bit extra special, having been special ordered in Viper Green:
The Audi S8. Still, this car ranks as one of my favorite automotive designs from the company, from the 1990s and 2000s – heck, maybe even overall. While I’m not a huge sedan fan in general, there was just something so right about the proportions and presence of the D2 S8. Did it help that it was in a movie I also loved? Sure, without a doubt. But even without that aspect I think this car, and specifically the 2003 model year, are my favorite U.S. bound Audi.
I especially like the 2003 model year because of the limited Audi Exclusive package. Special colors and interiors were fit to the car, along with updated “RS” design wheels. Limited to only 100 copies each. my favorite for the past decade and a half has been the Avus Silver Pearl with Burgundy interior and I think I’ve pointed that out…well, more than a few times. However, at nearly 15 years old, these cars are far from new and we’re deep into a territory were plenty of neglected examples are coming to market. As a result, rather than just find one in the color you want, with the D2 S8 in today’s market condition and history needs to trump other considerations like location and color.
Once in a while, a truly special package comes along and is seemingly gone in the blink of an eye. The TT RS was that package for Audi, marrying the fantastic 8J chassis with the outrageous 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-5 and a 6-speed manual. With 360 horsepower on tap driving all wheels and a sticker price below $60,000, it was Audi’s answer to the BMW 1M, and it was a good one. Though the driving experience perhaps wasn’t as “pure” as the Munich monster, the TT RS was a potent alternative that was on par with the competition, if not better. It was a Porsche killer at a fraction of the price.
But it was short lived, only being available for the 2012 and 2013 model years. On its way out, around 30 of the RSs were handed over to Audi Exclusive. Painted special Nimbus Grey Pearl Effect and optioned with the bi-color leather interior, they were also heavily optioned with the Titanium Exhaust package treatment which came with the titanium exhaust, black optics grill and titanium “Rotor” wheels. A special “RS” shift knob was also present, and the total package (which included the Tech Package, as well) upped the sticker price to over $70,000. Today you can have a basically new one for a seeming steal at some $20,000 less:
There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to – The Outer Limits.
Alright, after a bit of a lengthy admission that we can’t cover all German cars or even all that we’re interested in, I’m going to present you with something a little different. SUVs scarcely come across these pages despite their popularity, but then hybrids also don’t usually make it on to the GCFSB search criteria. So by a “little different”, I mean a lot. A lot of weight, for starters, as this Q5 hybrid tips the scales with no passengers at a hefty 4,400 lbs. A lot of technology? Undoubtedly, the Ingolstadt engineers packed this car full of every gadget at their disposal, and then had at the engine to couple it with an electronic hybrid assist. A lot of color? That too, as the buyer of this Q5 hybrid took it to the next level and let Audi Exclusive paint it the interesting shade of Papaya Orange. That’s sure a lot of a lot to take in….
I’m sure that occasionally (or more likely, often) when discussing current color pallets offered by manufacturers I sound like a broken record. The new model is, generally speaking, that 95% of those that purchase the top-tier models for any given manufacturer will select one of three colors: black, gray or white. It reminds me of a book my wife bought for our son for Christmas; This Bridge Will Not Be Gray by Dave Eggers. It chronicles in a tongue-in-cheek manner the development of the Golden Gate bridge – reportedly, according to the text, the first orange bridge in the human history. “No bridge had ever been orange. Orange was silly. So most of those involved figured the bridge would be gray. Gray was serious. Gray was safe” the book states about the bridge, and I feel like a fair amount of people buying these near-exotic cars feel the same way. But in the book, Eggers talks about how one of the bridge’s designers – Edward Morrow – decided gray would be the wrong color; that if he was going to have to look at this bridge every day, it should look like something special. The original buyer of this Audi RS7 got it:
Did you miss your opportunity to get one of the greats when they were new? Be it the last of the 993s, the 1M, or this car – the Audi TT RS – they’re packages we’re not likely to see again soon if ever. The 8J platform was already great, even in only 2.0T form – but up the power with the 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-5 and this stealthy coupe becomes a monster. Only around 1,300 of these TT RSs were sold between 2012 and 2013 and are already fan favorites. On its way out, though, Audi gave U.S. fans something special with the “Final Edition” cars. Around 30 of the final run of TT RSs were handed over to Audi Exclusive, where they received special interior and exterior treatments. Outside they were painted Nimbus Grey Pearl Effect and given the full Titanium Exhaust package treatment which came with the titanium exhaust, black optics grill and titanium “Rotor” wheels. Inside, they were outfit with two tone Crimson Red and Black leather interiors and a special “RS Plus” shift knob. They were also fully equipped with the Tech package which included navigation and heated front seats. The price for such luxury? Over $70,000 out the door. But today, you can have what is effectively a brand new on for some $20,000 less:
There are two ways to look at the TT RS. Either it’s a very expensive and over complicated Golf, or it’s a really cheap Porsche. Which camp you fall in to probably relates back to your general feelings about Audi’s engineering and platforms, but the VAG group has done a masterful job of filling nearly every conceivable niche with a specific model which suits the needs of a seemingly minuscule group of buyers. Consider, for just a moment, the number of 911 variants that Porsche offers. Not including color and interior variations (and forget Porsche’s individual program for a second), there are 21 variants of the 911 for sale in the U.S. right now. 21. That’s nuts. But that’s about on par with what Volkswagen has done with the Golf – producing not only the many Golf models, but also the Golf-based Jetta, A3, S3, Q3, Tiguan, Touran, Passat, several European Skodas, Seats, and – of course – the Audi TT. But while there are hot versions of the Golf available in a few different flavors, Audi took the TT RS to the next level, replacing the typical 2.0T motor with a 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-5 that hearkened back to the great 1980s designs. Sure, the motor was now transverse, and you can complain about that all you’d like. But the performance of the TT RS is undeniable – 0-60 in 3.6 seconds (with the DSG box), nearly 1 g on the skidpad and seemingly endless acceleration up to 175 m.p.h. from the 360 horsepower 5-pot. And, all of this was available for around $60,000. You also got a revised exterior with go-faster grills and plenty of special looking accents both inside and out. With only around 1,000 imported, exclusivity was guaranteed and these TT RSs are fan favorites already that are likely to retain a strong value in the marketplace: