While patience may be a virtue to philosophers, there many owners of the previous Audi TT RS twiddling their thumbs while they wait for the multiple award-winning 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine to make its appearance in the new TT. Have faith boys and girls; it will come. The fact that this charismatic engine has already made its debut in the new RS3, which shares the MQB platform with the TT, means there is no technical reason why the TT should not get it.
However, for anyone who absolutely must have a super fast TT right now, I have just driven a viable alternative in the form of the ABT TTS. The Kempten tuning takes the reasonably rapid 310 hp TTS quattro and turns it into a fire breathing 370 hp rocket thanks to the ABT Power conversion.
With less weight in the nose, the TTS will change direction more keenly than a car with the five-cylinder engine. This was apparent from the ABT RS3 I drove back-to-back with the TTS. A comparison between standard versions of each car leads you to arrive at the same conclusion. Although they share the same basic platform, the TTS and RS3 have quite a different chassis set-up, the inherently sportier two-door being the more coherent of the two.
While I would normally take Audi's five-pot over its four-banger brother, I have to admit that what ABT has done to the 2.0T has turned it into a more effective, and also quite appealing powerhouse. It has punch, revs eagerly, and sends the speedometer racing round the dial at near junior supercar league pace.
As ABT's HQ is blessed with an unrestricted stretch of autobahn just round the corner, it would have been rude not to max the car out. When it rocketed all the way up to an indicated 280km/h (174mph), both rapidly, and with an ease that belied its mere 1,984cc capacity, I was suitably impressed.
Interestingly, ABT only claim 265km/h as the top speed of its car, which removes the factory 250km/h speed limiter as part of the ECU upgrade. However, the test car just kept on going to an indicated 280km/h, so even allowing for speedometer error, it appears to easily exceed the claimed Vmax.
Apart from the fact that it now has as much sheer grunt as the entry-level Porsche 991 Carrera, but for around half the money, the freer breathing sports exhaust gives it a nicely judged tone with more bass frequencies in the right places. The result is a sportier and more pleasing soundtrack under load than the rather anodyne thrum of the standard VW Group 2.0-litre four.
Sensibly, ABT has not done much to the TT's iconic styling apart from adding functional spoilers that reduce lift at the greater velocities its tuned car is now capable of. Speaking of, another thing I noticed while extending the car all the way off the clock on the autobahn was just how stable it was while knocking on the door of Mr. Vmax.
Of course the quattro AWD also helps stability too, but you can feel through both the helm and your seat of the pants, or what the Germans amusingly describe as the 'poppometer', that the aero aids at both ends of the car are doing a fine job. Given that adding downforce also tends to increase drag, it is no mean feat for a mere 2.0 litre motor to haul this TTS to nearly 180mph this rapidly, and with no apparent stress. Yes, I was impressed.
ABT's 'New Generation' Power upgrade for the Audi 2.0T comes in the form of an additional module. However, where such modules are normally fitted in series and modify the signal coming from the factory ECU, the ABT Power Unit is mounted in parallel and is specifically mapped for the vehicle it is fitted to. This allows for very precise fine-tuning of each unit to the exact engine and gearbox it has to govern.
This Plug and Play conversion comes with the necessary wiring harness, so it can be fitted in minutes and just as easily removed when you sell the car. The unit is also programmed to maintain the factory safeguards, so the enhanced mapping does not come online until the engine reaches normal working temperature. At the other end of the scale, if the engine reaches the factory set maximum allowable temperature, it reverts to the stock mapping with protection protocols that restrict boost and ignition timing to avoid thermal stress.
The other part of the ABT conversion is the four 102mm diameter tailpipe sports rear silencer that removes some restriction and sounds lovely. An option further upstream is a TUV approved Y-pipe with a 200-cell metal sport catalytic converter that decreases backpressure.
The Abt Power conversion comes in two flavours. If you have the base TT with 230hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, the ECU upgrade and sports exhaust will boost this to 310hp, with 325 lb-ft of torque. In the case of the TTS tested here, the big numbers rise from 310 to 370hp between 5,800 and 6,200rpm, with an increase in torque from 280 to 339 lb-ft between 1,800 and 5,700rpm.
The fact that the enhanced numbers occur at the same revs as stock is significant. When you compare the standard and tuned power and torque graphs, you will see that ABT has exactly mirrored the factory curves to deliver exactly the same driving characteristics as standard. The only difference is the greater power and torque output at any given point.
The engine requires 98 RON Octane unleaded for optimum performance. It can happily run on 95 RON Octane fuel, but the ECU will then retard the ignition, resulting in a slight drop in output.
Torque gives you acceleration, and with quattro and DSG in tow, the stopwatch numbers will always be pretty consistent. Thus, where Audi claim 4.6 sec for the 0-62 mph sprint, the ABT TTS claws its way to the benchmark speed in 4.4 sec. However, the extra 52 lb-ft of torque present all the way from 1,800 to 5,700rpm is put to best use in intermediate gear acceleration where the beefier torque curve means you need less throttle to achieve a given speed unless you are an incorrigible lead foot.
Speaking of efficiency, while the EU6 rated CO2 emissions of 155g/km are unchanged, the CO2 emissions per horsepower of the tuned car are now just 0.42g, compared to the 0.5g of the stock car.
Rebalancing the TTS to handle the extra power is a matter addressed on three levels. First is the wheel and tire upgrade, which in the case of my test car means 8.5J x 20-inch (ET40) Abt FR20 alloy wheels shod with 255/30ZR20 Continental SportContact 5P, or the new SportContact 6 rubber. ABT also offer 18 and 19-inch wheels in five different designs so there is plenty of choice for TT owners depending on budget, aesthetic preference and even local road conditions.
Uprated springs drop the car by a modest 0.8 inches in front and 0.6 inches at the rear. They work well with the Audi magnetic damping, producing a firmer but still comfortable ride. ABT does a full geometry set up so that everything works optimally at the lower ride height.
Beefier front and rear anti-roll bars keep the car flatter in fast cornering, and the combination of these chassis upgrades makes a huge difference to the way the car turns-in and sticks to the tarmac. Squat and dive are both reduced under acceleration and braking, helping the quattro system do its best work.
As a parting shot ABT told me that it's now working on the next upgrade phase for this engine, the Power S. No hard numbers were discussed, but they hinted at an output figure beginning with 4, aided by with a modified turbocharger and bigger intercooler. The debut of this Stage 2 conversion will be accompanied by an uprated brake kit with six-piston front calipers. Watch this space.