The Audi RS line returns to American soil

It was 2008 when the last Audi models with an RS badge were sold in America – namely the impressive RS4 and its matching Cabriolet. After three years of absentia, the RS line returned to America this week as Forth Worth Audi in Texas handed over the keys to the first 2012 Audi TT RS in the country to veteran racecar driver Don Istook.

The top-tier RS line is built in limited numbers by Audi's high-performance private subsidiary quattro GmbH, for AUDI AG, which is part of the larger Volkswagen Group. The badge implies an unsurpassed level of performance, engineering and technology in a combustion engine automobile.

The 2012 TT RS is no exception. Istook was one of more than 11,500 fans to sign the Audi TT RS Facebook petition drive last year, which helped convince Audi to bring the 360-hp coupe to the U.S.

The Fort Worth born racing professional was one of the first to race an Audi Quattro in the U.S. during 1985. Istook also drove Audi S4 models in the Motorola Cup, now known as the Grand-Am Cup and recently has raced Audi TT quattro coupes.

"Having raced at almost every major track in the U.S. and Canada, I've pushed the limits in many cars in my 34 years as a race car driver,” Istook said. “I like my street car to give me some of that thrill. With my new Audi TT RS, I not only get that thrill, but I also get that racecar sound.”

The Audi is powered by a celebrated 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder TFSI engine, generating 360 hp between 5,500 and 6,700 rpm, as well as 343 lb-ft of torque between 1,650 and 5,400 rpm. Featuring aluminum and steel hybrid ASF technology and standard quattro all-wheel drive, the TT RS offers excellent aerodynamics, increased rigidity and enhanced safety.

“The technical capabilities of the Audi brand are perfectly distilled in the RS models developed by quattro GmbH,” said Johan de Nysschen, President, Audi of America. “For the past few years, American sports car enthusiasts have pleaded with us to make the marquee available here. With the TT RS we are now furthering the Audi performance story that includes models from the Audi S4 to the new Audi R8 GT.”

The brand plans to follow this reintroduction with the RS 5 coupe next year, in response to growing interest from dealers.

“Interest in the return of the RS marquee has been so strong that Mr. Istook is allowing us to keep his TT RS at the dealership longer to show Audi fans and customers,” said Bobby Baillargeon, owner of Forth Worth Audi.

The notable features and exclusive design elements of the Audi TT RS include a black diamond Singleframe grille with large air inlets, a fixed rear wing spoiler, oval exhausts, unique 19-inch rotor wheels and more. It comes only with a six-speed manual transmission and optional adaptive headlights. The interior features exclusive touches, like the contoured three-spoke sport articulated steering wheel, RS door sill logos and RS-specific interior door handles.

Of course it has all the top-shelf entertainment and technology you would expect from an Audi, but its true appeal is performance and handling in great measure.

“Superb brakes and handling go right along with the magnificent power from the 2.5-liter turbo, especially the low end torque,” Istook noted. “It reminds me of the mid 80's when we raced the original 5-cylinder turbo Audi Quattro. What is great, though, is that I get all of that, yet I have the refinement, sophistication and technology of a truly modern sports car."

The 2012 Audi TT RS is priced at $56,850 (excluding $875 destination charges, taxes, title, options and dealer charges)

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