Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Firing up the engine is an event. Hit the red button on the helm to awaken the starter which requires two or three snarling revolutions to crank up the highly tuned 2.0-litre four. Once again, the production car lapses back into concept car mode. Idle speed is revving up and down the tone ladder in 200rpm waves; the water pump, the oil pump and the injection pump take a few moments to synchronise their a capella performance; you can almost feel the lubricant swarming out to the remote corners of the powerplant which duly changes its tone of voice from high-pitched metallic to a healthy baritone.

Playing with the throttle introduces the two key sparring partners to this quattrophonic ring: the intake plenum and its broadband coloratura, and the dual-stage exhaust system which oscillates between mass murmur and raw roar. When you shift down on the move with the left index finger, the chips will automatically blip the throttle; when you give her stick and keep the right foot firmly planted, a phonetic explosion marks the transition from bawl to blare at 4500rpm; when you change up one gear close to the redline and then another, the four sounds almost like a five, and then very briefly even like a six.

Although the TT420 may have what it takes to evolve into the next TT RS, it won’t feature this engine. Instead, the top-of-the-line version will run Audi’s five-cylinder unit, which gets a new lease of life in the shape of a seriously modified alloy-block motor (good for 525bhp in the latest S3-based hot concept).

The TTS will remain loyal to the 2.0-litre TFSI, which is featured by every mainstream VW Group brand. Originally pegged at 292bhp, TTS output has recently been lifted to 306bhp. How come? Because Ulrich Hackenberg, now Audi’s r&d supremo, felt an urge to eclipse the 296bhp Golf R. For exactly the same reason, the output of this hot TT420 concept was increased to a lofty 414bhp – 20bhp more than the 394bhp Golf R400 concept. Talk about inter-brand one-upmanship. Although it is the most powerful 2.0-litre petrol engine, this particular iteration is not currently confirmed for production.

The TT420 is redlined at 7200rpm, and the turbocharged 16-valver produces peak power at 6700rpm. The maximum torque of 332lb ft is spread over an uncommonly wide rev band from 2400 to 6300rpm. With four-wheel drive and a tidy 1344kg kerbweight, 0-62mph takes just 3.7sec. Like the engines of the Lamborghini Huracan and the race-winning Audi R8, the third-generation 2.0-litre four (EA888) features a mix of direct and indirect injection systems for maximum mid-range grunt, impressive high-end urge, quick low-end response and strong overall efficiency.