How Does The Audi TT-S Only Have FOUR Cylinders?


“There’s no way it’s a turbo-4″, I told myself. “Uhn uhn”.

The engine was linear, raspy, and as progressive as East Berlin. There was just. no. way.

And yet there was no way it wasn’t. What else could centre itself so lightly and lowly in what’s arguably the most couture of Audi’s already upper crust line-up?

Just minutes before I had this thought, I’d dropped my buns into the driver’s seat of my friend Tarek’s 2011 Audi TT-S. Even before dropping the hammer for the first time and wondering what kind of magical mill lay before me, I was treated to a cockpit that was way roomier than I’d envisioned. The exterior dimensions of the MkII TT, although plumper than the MkI, are almost cutely compact. The rear seat cushions, pressed up against the backs of the fronts, were clearly visible through the glass hatch. I wasn’t expecting scores of knee room, a hunkered down driving position and an infinitely adjustable steering wheel perfect for my stretchy limbs – but that’s exactly what I got. After a few moments to set myself up (and it always seems to take longer in German cars), I was off.

As the roads opened before me, I floored it in second – the DSG holding the gear until I flicked the right paddle – through third, and into a wide-open fourth. The world blurred around the cozy cabin. It’s a quick car, I soon learned. Don’t underestimate it for a second.

Combined with Quattro, the TT-S is a fantastic all-rounder, but it isn’t so smooth that it’s flat. The 1984cc engine cranks out 265 hp and 258 ft-lbs stock, but there’s no discounting the Stasis intake and chip fitted to Tarek’s car. Even still, the numbers can’t convey the sound that surprised me so. Not even close. It’s more intake than exhaust, with an excited vibrato that filled the leather-lined cabin and gave me a racy confidence I didn’t lack to begin with. It was undoubtedly the most gratifying turbo-four I’d ever heard from the driver’s seat. The only other turbo engine that sounds even half as frenetically frissony is the 5.5L twin-turbo V8 in the CLS63 AMG, which cheats by using its bigger cylinder count.

It was just a quick drive, but the turbo-4(!) in the Audi TT-S left a marked impression. The Audi TT-S an unconventional choice for North American buyers, but it’s all the better for it.