Audi Builds a Baby R8 With the TT Club Sport
There’s nothing like a good auto festival to rally the faithful. It’s an invaluable link between automakers and fans, and can serve as a sounding board for what the diehards want from next-generation models. Jeep aficionados have the Jeep Easter Safari in Moab, and classic car owners have the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, while Volkswagen’s biggest boosters have trekked to the Wörthersee tuning festival in Austria every year since 1982, where they’ve gathered to show off some of the most incredible cars ever built under the Volkswagen Auto Group umbrella.
Like Jeep’s Easter Safari, Volkswagen AG has an enormous presence at Wörthersee, rewarding the faithful with a host of unique concept cars. Each year, the company sends design exercises from Volkswagen and Audi, as well as European makes Seat and Škoda to wow the crowds and let the company flex its creative and performance muscles for the faithful. This year, the Wörthersee festival is in for a real treat, because Volkswagen AG’s halo concept is the Audi TT Club Sport Concept, a 600-horsepower electric-turbocharged all-wheel drive version of the TT coupe that could go down in history as one of the wildest concepts to ever to appear at the festival.
While many of the concepts at Wörthersee are appearance-based, Audi claims the TT Club Sport features “technology close to production readiness,” a bold claim for such an advanced car. While the base model TT has struggled for legitimate sports car status since it was introduced in 1998, the Club Sport won’t have the same problem. For festival goers, the only problem with the concept will be whether to call it a sports car or a supercar.
Volkswagen first flexed its neo-supercar muscles at Wörthersee in 2007 by shoehorning 650 horsepower behind the rear seats of a widened GTI to create the unforgettable Golf GTI W12. With a zero to 60 time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of over 200 miles per hour, the car that was more Lamborghini than garden-variety Golf. Eight years later, the TT Club Sport Concept could join the über-Golf as one of the most outrageous concepts to grace the festival, but with its production-ready status, the Audi is tantalizingly closer to reaching dealerships more than the GTI W12 ever was.
Using a 2.5-liter inline five engine, the Club Sport produces its 600 horsepower with the aid of two electric turbos. The cutting-edge system uses a 48-volt electric system to help the turbos spool up faster, noticeably reducing turbo lag while boosting overall power. Audi says that the with the technology, the “TT clubsport turbo effortlessly pulls away from a counterpart with an identically powered engine but no electric biturbo.” This allows the TT to punch well above its weight, giving it the power to leave heavyweights like the Nissan GT-R, Ferrari 458 Italia, and the upcoming McLaren 540C in its dust.
Audi’s engineers put the TT on a diet, and as a result, the Club Sport weighs in at just over 3,000 pounds. Wide flared venders, a host of vents, and a massive carbon fiber wing help the car handle all that extra power and keep it firmly planted to the ground at speed.
Ultimately, the Club Sport’s performance could be its biggest handicap. It’s an incredibly capable machine, but it also steps on the toes of Audi’s superlative supercar, the R8. Echoes of the R8 are all over the Club Sport, most prominently in its fantastic six-speed manual transmission and gated shifter. While the TT Club Sport itself may never get the green light for production, future Audis will certainly benefit from its technology — its showpiece, the electric turbos, are expected to show up on future Audi models within the next few years.
With all the extra power that this novel turbocharging system generates, this could be the beginning of a new era for turbocharged Audis, and possibly even show up on future TT models. In the end, the TT Club Sport may not make it into production, but with a little luck, we could be seeing something very similar on the roads very soon.