For the fourth year in a row Audi’s 5-cylinder TFSI engine has won the Engine Of The Year award in the 2.0 to 2.5-litre category. It’s not surprising really as it stands as one of the last remaining 5-cylinder engines in production, with all but Volvo having sacrificed the odd cylinder count at the altar of emissions regulations.
I’m a huge fan of five cylinder engines. They have such a distinctive sound and I find their off-beat warble a pleasure to listen to. Audi are responsible for that as it was their Quattro coupe that caught my imagination when I was a lad. The original roadgoing Quattro coupe was a handsome car and sounded great but the rally-bred Quattro S1 sealed the deal. I have vivid memories of watching the rally reports on TV and listening to the Quattro’s spine-tingling howl echoing through the forests.
So I’m glad that Audi are persevering with 5-cylinder engines and, as agreed by the 87 international motoring journalists on the EOTY awards, it really is the best of the lot. It still makes that distinctive sound but now packs an even more incredible punch thanks to the use of direct injection and turbocharging.
The 2.5 TFSI is the heart of one of the Quattro coupe’s descendants, the Audi TT RS plus. As the name suggests this is a TT RS with a little extra, namely 360PS and 465Nm from its 2,480cc engine. Thanks to the quattro all-wheel drive system it’ll hit 62mph in as little as 4.1 seconds, a huge step up from the original 80’s Quattro coupe. With just 2,144cc it could only manage 200PS and yet it was still considered a fast car in its day.
The stunning performance of the RS plus also shows how far the Audi TT has come since its release in 1998. Back then it used a conventional and rather dull turbocharged 1.8-litre with four cylinders. Base models were two-wheel drive and had to make do with just 180PS but the quattro version had a healthier 225PS version of the same engine. Later models saw the power increase to a much more respectable 240PS but that’s still over 100PS short of the modern day RS plus.
Sadly the RS plus is destined to be a rare beast and that means it’ll hold its value well on the second hand market. I thought I’d found a good one on www.carshop.co.uk but it disappeared the next day and it’s a similar story on other websites. Second-hand 5-cylinder TTs are rare and highly sought after.
It also makes me wonder what the future holds for Audi’s 5-cylinder engines. They’re clearly popular with enthusiasts and customers but they’re under threat from the increasingly stringent emissions regulations being imposed by the EU. Here’s hoping that the 2.5 TFSI continues to be awarded Engine Of The Year because if is it means that the emissions regulations haven’t taken away one of the most evocative engines.