Words by: Robert S. Schultz, Photos by author & Audi USA via flickr
For a car that isn’t officially here yet, the Audi TT RS has already acquired quite a following. In fact, it’s about 11,500 strong, the number who signed the Facebook petition to bring the car to the U.S. To show its appreciation, Audi invited the RS’s friends to an exclusive preview luncheon Feb. 10 during media days at the Chicago Auto Show.
It wasn’t your traditional auto show premiere, but more like a pizza party. About 40 of the faithful gathered around the turntable to hear Audi Product Manager Mark Fruechtnicht, who’s responsible for the entire TT line, update our knowledge base about the RS and offer some firsthand driving impressions. After much opening and closing of doors and hood and paparazzi-caliber photo flashes, Audi treated its guests to a pizza and pasta lunch (and what better venue than Chicago, reputed for its deep-dish style pizzas).
To enthusiasts who have obsessed over the RS since it started running rings around the Nordschleife, the specs were reassuringly familiar: 340 hp (wink-wink), six-speed manual only, 10 mm lowered chassis (same as the TTS), hair-raising exhaust note that harks back to five-cylinders of yore.
To further whet appetites, we were able to glean more intel about U.S. specifications:
- Enhanced mag ride (standard) that sharpens throttle response, tightens steering and opens the exhaust in sport mode.
- Delete option available for the standard fixed rear spoiler.
- Perforated leather seat inserts exclusive to the RS, available in black or silver.
- Meatier, perforated leather steering wheel.
- Single trim level, with several packages and stand-alone options.
- Carbon fiber trim on the air intake plenum and oil filler surround.
- Exclusive RS colors still under consideration.
- Bright silver 19” wheels standard, titanium finish optional.
- Price in the low $60s (Audi is still working the numbers).
- Available this summer as a 2012 model.
- “Well under 1,000” to be imported, probably over two model years.
Building relationships with fans of the brand is something Audi is taking very seriously. Previewing the TT RS on a day the Chicago Auto Show had designated for social media was more than coincidental. And pizza parties for RS enthusiasts may only be the beginning. One Audi executive was overheard saying that Audi is working on a special recognition for Facebook petitioners who actually buy an RS. “You helped get it here,” he said with conviction.