words: Troy Sicotte
Project TT RS is a multi-part series that follows the journey of an Audi enthusiast, the ownership experience, and the “ecosystem” that follows the car around ACNA events and an OEM+ minded build project.
It’s all about that sound, isn’t it? The sound Michèle Mouton and Walter Röhrl made famous in the 1980s. This sound, and quattro’s dominance in motorsport, led me to always aspire to own an Audi. These affections lead to me first to a 2013 Audi TT RS, and now to the latest iteration of the car.
The new 2017 TT RS, dubbed TT Mk3 in enthusiast circles, features RS specific Suzuka grey paint, Alu-optics trim, large oval exhaust tips and legendary 12453 engine firing order that make it a subtle sleeper of a mini-supercar, an all weather canyon carver and an ultimate track weapon that gives 911s, M3s and even R8s a run for their money at any given HPDE event. I have to say, there’s nothing better to an Audi driver than a Porsche 911 GT3 owner coming up to you on the paddock asking, “What’s going on with that thing? You must be on slicks?” It does so well on the track, I donned a hash-tag for it. So go ahead and look up #ttrstrackweapon on Instagram and Facebook. You’ll see what I mean.
When the new 8S platform was confirmed for the US market, I knew I wanted to get my hands on one ASAP. The decision was made to acquire a new TT RS as soon as possible, which would also give my employer 034Motorsport access to it in order to help develop new aftermarket parts for the platform.
I seldom pick a car right off the dealer lot, but then a local Audi brand specialist, Brandon Collins at Audi Rocklin, posted a Nardo Grey TT RS on Facebook, stating it was “in stock and ready to be picked up by one of you out there!” Being the color I wanted, it seemed too good to be true. I also learned it was one of just 35 TT RS’ in country thanks to an early allocation of pre-spec cars from Audi of America. Audi Rocklin is the newest Audi Forum style dealership in the Bay Area, and now I had an excuse to go visit.
I set up the appointment with Brandon, and drove to Audi Rocklin on a hot, 100-degree NorCal day. Upon my arrival, Brandon had the car on display, dead-center in front of the Audi Sport section of their facility. A black R8 was parked smartly near the TT RS and if there’s one thing the new 8S platform is, it’s exotic! It holds its own against the looks of the R8. That’s saying something!
The car in question was exactly what I had on order: Nardo Grey, Sport Exhaust, RS Design Package, Technology Package, Sport Exhaust and Extended Leather package. There was one exception though: it had one option package I wasn’t too keen on initially, the Black Optics package that bundled 20” wheels along with the deletion of the RS specific Alu-optics trim. Seeing the black optics against the single stage look Nardo Grey quickly overcame my objection to Black Optics. It simply worked and looked very aggressive.
A few hours later, I was the owner! The whole team at Audi Rocklin made it a wonderful experience and their state-of-the-art facility made it that much more enjoyable. It’s amazing how much the venue can contribute to the experience.
Prior to taking it home, I had to get the car protected since I didn’t want a scratch or rock chip to ruin the new paint. ACNA Golden Gate Chapter Sponsor, Elite Autoworks in Sacramento, picked up the car to give it a full protection package.
Since my last new car, the world of car protection and coatings has evolved. I usually get a full front-end clear bra on new cars, but wanted to try out the new Ceramic coatings. Elite Autoworks owner, Ryan Schiller recommended CeramicPro due to their warranty support and established technology and distribution network.
When it came to selecting a clear bra, he mentioned that there are not only self healing clear bras, but ones with a ceramic protection top coat, further enhancing protection. We went with Stek DYNOshield that is both self-healing and ceramic coated. This protection is important to me since I’ll be tracking that car 10-12 times per year. Track debris from dirt and sand to rubber from tires acts like a sandblaster at track speeds, so I went for a full-frontal package, including the front fenders, and added the rocker panels and door sills. Newer cars have very complex patterns to deal with so Ryan showed me his plotter, which literally cuts out the DYNOshield to go around each of the “quattro’ letters on the grill surround. Amazing!
Finally, this car has black optics, which coats the front splitter, grill surround, mirror caps and rear spoiler uprights in beautiful black paint. To complete the look, I had Ryan and his team wrap the roof, rear hatch, rear spoiler and rear license plate valence in gloss black 3M 1080 HD vinyl. To me, it really completes the black optics look, and gives it an Audi Concept Car look (think TT quattro Sport420 concept).
A week later, I picked the car up, and took the long road home, sticking to the back roads along the Sacramento river. Let’s just say, though scenic, I didn’t want to get out of the car to take any photos. All I wanted to do is drive and drive, never getting out.
The next step was to hand off the car to the 034Motorsport engineering team to determine a product plan for the car. Some of this is simply getting underneath to see what’s possible or needed. Other avenues include test drives, track time and 3D scanning. In future articles, Project TT RS will take a deep dive in how the aftermarket uses vehicles to develop performance solutions.
The acquisition of this car also lined up perfectly with one of the ultimate experiences for any automotive enthusiast, Monterey Car Week. ACNA and its Golden Gate Chapter take part in organizing the largest German Concours event during this epic week, called Legends of the Autobahn. I just had to get this new car down there. Plus, I knew it would be the only new TT RS attending!
In my love for all things OEM and OEM+, I had to try some wheels to see what direction I want to go with as I build this car. The TT RS is notorious for a hard-to-find, high-offset wheel, so aftermarket offerings are few and far between. HRE came through with a set of classic mesh inspired FF01s from their Flow Form rotary forged collection, in Silver19x9.5 ET45. They were shod with sticky Bridgestone RE-11s in 265/35R19. This fitment is a “minus-1” set up compared to the 20” black optics wheels. The 35 vs 30 series sidewall is more appropriate for my daily commute, and enhances the ride quite a bit. It’s a proven size. Once delivered, Griffin Motorwerke performed the test fitment. The massive R8 8 piston calipers are big, and most wheels with any concave shape won’t work due to spoke contact with the caliper. Griffin Motorwerke’s tech did a careful test fitment, and once confirmed it would clear, did a full Hunter Roadforce mount and balance. This type of mounting technique takes the wheel and tires “high/heavy” spots and positions them to counter each other, minimizing the need for as many counterweights.
My first driving impressions are fantastic. Most notable is the hip point with the driving position. As a driver, you feel situated closer to the rear axle, lower and are what seems like at least 12” further way from the windshield. It feels more Porsche Cayman than VW Golf R, which is good for a car with so many platform siblings.
In the next issue, we’ll be reviewing the findings from tracking the car at the Golden Gate Chapter’s “quattro de Seca” and “AudiFest” HPDE events, and SoCal Chapter’s Button Willow HPDE. With six days of track time over those three events, I’ll have many notes to share, along with some progress on the build project.
This story originally ran in the Fall 2017 issue of the Audi Club North America quattro quarterly print magazine. In order to subscribe to quattro quarterly, join the Audi Club North America HERE.