THE DARK KNIGHT – CARBON FIBRE CLAD OEM+ TT RS DEFINES REFINED
700BHP/556lb-ft Iroz IMS850 turbo JBS Stage 3 tune
“I’ve been a petrolhead ever since my uncle used to take me to custom car shows in the early ’80s”
The evolution of the Audi TT as a model has been fascinating to observe. The key lure of this compact little coupe from the very start has always been the way it looks – the fundamental truth here is that the TT is pretty much the perfect design for a car in this segment: sublime proportions, gorgeous detailing, and just the right mix of retro styling cues and forward-thinking crispness. The Mk1’s aged superbly, and the Mk2 and Mk3 have sensitively and sympathetically continued the concept rather than radically reworking it.
Of course, it’s an inherent part of the evolutionary process that sometimes unexpected things happen. Every now and then an animal will grow an extra arm or an experimental tail or a spurious poison sac, and that’s cool – it’s why creatures first crawled out of the seas and onto the land in the first place. And it’s fair to say that the Mk2 Audi TT took quite a few people by surprise when it evolved from potent sports car to face-melting lunatic with the application of the RS badge. Shoehorning in a 2.5 TFSI 5-pot broke all the rules, and its 0-62mph (0-100kph) time of 4.5 seconds rocketed it into premium sports territory, even knocking on the door of supercars.
When the Mk3 went into production in 2014, there was no RS variant at launch, and it was at this moment in time that Michael Slater wandered into the TT arena, eyeing up the performance models within the smoking crucible and finding the TTS to be most suited to his needs. Michael’s a man of diverse automotive enthusiasms, having dabbled in a number of interesting custom and performance areas before arriving with us at the Audi brand. “I’ve been a petrolhead ever since my uncle used to take me to classic American custom car shows in the early ’80s,” he explains. “My first project was a 1380 Mini, which seems a lifetime ago now. I’ll never forget how it used to gap Ford Escort RS2000s and Renault 5 GT Turbos of the time!” Fast-forward deep into the 21st-century, and we find him trading in his Mk7 Golf for a TTS, although when the Mk3 TT RS variant finally launched it was as if all the stars simultaneously aligned into four interlocking rings and started shining down right onto Michael’s driveway. He knew what he had to do, and the car we have in Si’s studio today is the gleaming evidence. Fate demanded that this guy buy himself an RS, and who was he to refuse?
“With the vision I had in mind for the project, it was an easy decision to go for the TT RS,” he grins. “I put my order in at the dealer, and had the car collected from Oldham Audi by my guys at Central Detailing Manchester. They took care of the protection straight away, by way of ceramic coating, PPF and so on; from day one the RS has been treated with the utmost respect.”
Michael certainly had fun ticking the option boxes too. The exterior is finished in Black Panther paint, which suits the TT beautifully and really works with the diamond-cut 7-spoke 20-inch wheels in their anthracite and dark smoke lacquer finish. He also optioned the carbon-ceramic brakes, which come with mighty 8-pot Brembo calipers at the business end, along with the raucous Audi Sport exhaust system. Inside, we find the Alcantara flat-bottom steering wheel, the carbon pack, Bang & Olufsen audio, and the achingly cool Audi Sport carbon strut brace, something from the Performance catalogue which deletes the rear seats. Right from the get-go, this was a very serious machine. 394bhp and 354lb. ft straight out of the box, with all the desirable options. Of course, for a seasoned modifier like this, such a thing would only ever be a starting point.
“I was heavily influenced by @Doczilla and the F7LTHY brand,” he explains. “This is all about a community of folks who share the passion for speed, beauty, and artistic expression. The vision is straight from the heart; life’s not perfect and it’s definitely about the journey – sometimes getting it right, sometimes stumbling along the way. The whole #Whatsnext ethos is about the mindset to keep chasing your dream.” We can relate to that – the legendary Doczilla (or JJ Dubec MD, to his mother) is a Canadian tuning supremo, a self-made man with a string of scene-busting SEMA builds to his name, and he’s a logical figure to wish to emulate. And with this inspiration carrying him, Michael knew precisely what he wanted to achieve with the RS; indeed, he was so clear on what he wanted, he found himself well ahead of the curve and waiting for the aftermarket tuning industry to catch up!
“The biggest hurdle with this build was getting used to the fact that development takes time,” he laughs. “When I first got the car, the Mk3 was way ahead of the technology – so all the Mk2 TT RS folks were at Stage 3 and having heaps of fun, while I had to wait and let things develop. Not everything that comes to market is the best quality either, so sometimes it’s better to wait a little longer and get it done right rather than done fast.”
This a very sensible outlook, and the most logical way to achieve what he’d set out to with this car. “Mostly this was about fast road driveability rather than building an out-and-out dragstrip car,” Michael continues. “Keeping the OEM+ look is tricky to get just right as well. But the RS was going to Stage 3 from day one, that was always the vision. I’ve always balanced mechanical mods with visual refinement, it has to be a complete package.”
Now that the industry’s had time to catch up with his dreams, Michael’s running a pretty stellar setup. The TFSI motor today runs an Iroz IMS850 turbo, complemented by a Wagner Tuning Competition Evo3 intercooler, Eventuri Stage 3 induction kit, and a full suite of Malaka Motorsport silicone hoses. That boisterous Audi Sport exhaust system has been further augmented by a Rogue Performance downpipe and decat pipe, making sounds that you feel in your chest (and the very depths of your soul) as much as hear. With a custom JBS Stage 3 tune, the headline figure is now a nice round 700bhp, which is frankly astonishing, backed up by a torque figure that’s had to be capped at 556lb.ft to stop the RS from actually rucking up the tarmac like a threadbare hallway rug with all four of its 255-section Michelins. JBS also remapped the DSG trans to suit, and the result is a weaponised brute that will see off any challenger short of an Aventador (and it’d certainly give that something to think about) while also cunningly retaining pleasant day-to-day driveability. It’s like a hardcore race car you can happily trundle to the shops in. This perky little poppet ticks a lot of boxes.
Now, while Audi saw fit to imbue the TT RS with a fabulous chassis, such things can always be further improved. The colossal OEM Brembo carbon-ceramics remain at the front, but Michael’s upgraded the rear brakes to a Vagbremtechnic arrangement with 356mm RS7 cross-drilled wavy discs and Pagid pads. There’s also an adjustable 034 Motorsport rear anti-roll bar, and it’s all suspended by a set of KW Variant 3 coilovers, a setup universally loved by everyone we know who’s ever run it.
And because Michael’s fondness for modding is just as much about ‘show’ as ‘go’, he’s put a lot of careful thought into the RS’s appearance. Given that he’d originally specced the carbon pack, along with that awesome carbon rear brace that we just can’t stop looking at with heart-emoji eyes, this seemed like a sensible theme to continue. Thanks to carbon specialists CarbonfibreIt, this car’s now rocking custom matching seat backs along with a carbon fuel filler and wheel centre caps. The exterior’s a positive riot of carbon, you’ll find the racy weave making up the Automotive Passion bonnet, rear spoiler, sideskirts, canards, and much more besides.
So we’re talking biblical performance, and also fabulously detailed aesthetics, all neatly resolved in one sublime package. When the Mk1 TT first came on the scene, and the fieriest version was the 225, we were well impressed – but this? This is just insane. Audi’s own interpretation of what the Mk3 TT RS should be is unhinged enough, but what Michael’s achieved here is the stuff of dreams. A practical daily-driver coupe with supercar performance.
“Yes, I do drive it every day,” Michael assures us, with a broad smile. “People seem to love it too; everyone’s reaction is different but always positive. They love the look, plus the fact that under the bonnet it’s got the powertrain to back up the visual statement.” So we can say with some confidence that it’s mission accomplished. The ultimate evolution of an already highly-evolved being.
SPECIFICATION Audi TT RS
Engine: 2.5-litre TFSI five-cylinder, JBS Stage 3 custom tune (ECU/DSG), Iroz IMS850 turbo, Eventuri Stage 3 induction kit, Malaka Motorsport silicone hoses, Rogue Performance downpipe and decat pipe, Wagner Tuning Competition Evo3 intercooler, Bosch Performance fuel injectors, NGK race spark plugs, Powerflex dogbone insert, Audi Sport exhaust system, 7-speed S-tronic DSG, Haldex AWD
Max Power: 700bhp @ 7500rpm
Max Torque: 556lb.ft @ 4000rpm
Chassis: OEM 9x20in diamond-cut 7-spoke rotor wheels in anthracite and dark smoke lacquer, 255/30 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, KW Variant 3 coilovers, 034 Motorsport adjustable rear anti-roll bar, OEM 8-pot Brembo front calipers with 370mm carbon-ceramic discs, Vagbremtechnic rear brake upgrade with 356mm RS7 cross-drilled wavy discs and Pagid pads
Exterior: Black Panther paint with full PPF front end protection, black badging, Automotive Passion carbon bonnet, Performance Carbon rear spoiler, carbon side skirts and front canards, carbonwrapped mirror caps, front splitter and engine cover, custom wheel centre caps and fuel cap by Carboni breIt, windows and lights tinted by Luxe Auto Concepts/BlackGlass Cheshire
Interior: Alcantara flat-bottom steering wheel, carbon pack, OEM Supersport seats in nappa leather with Carboni breIt carbon seat backs, Audi Sport Performance carbon strut brace (rear seat delete), Alcantara and nappa leather door panels from Auto Trim Ltd, Bang & Olufsen audio
Above: Supersport seats come with diamond-stitching as standard. Below: The OEM 9x20in diamond-cut 7-spoke rotor wheels are enhanced by KW Variant 3 lows.
Above: There’s more carbon trinkets than in Adrian Newey’s garage Below: A custom JBS Stage 3 tune raises the headline figure to 700bhp. Left: Another look at the Performance Carbon spoiler Below: Carbon fibre skirt extensions add more aggression to the TT RS Below: The factory Black Panther paint is stunning.
Above: The Performance Carbon rear spoiler is subtle yet simultaneously crazy.
Name: Michael Slater
Age: Too old, but getting younger
First car: 895cc VW Polo (P-reg)
Dream Audi: PB18 e-Tron
Hardest part of the build: Getting the tuning right; bespoke tunes take time to dial in and JBS have done a fantastic job to get a balanced weapon of a daily driver
Lessons learned from this project: Planning the build ahead of time has helped get things right first time; talk to like-minded petrolheads.
There is a wealth of knowledge out there from crews all over the globe pushing boundaries. Oh, one last thing, remember to enjoy the journey
What’s next? Adding the finishing touches to the project: full carbon rear diffuser (Automotive Passion), Alcantara dashboard (Jim’s Auto Trim), and a Gen-II throttle body (Malaka Motorsport)… and after that, maybe a new project
Michael has a large and talented cast of characters to thank for the creation of this magnificent RS: “Many thanks to the JBS team for burning the midnight oil on several occasions to get the Stage 3 build and tune spot on,” he enthuses. “And thanks also to Eventuri for providing a prototype Stage 3 induction kit prior to delivering the finished article – a quality and performance unparalleled. Iroz for pushing through just about every boundary possible and delivering the IMS850 turbo, which never fails to deliver, and Malaka for doing the same and sending over the upgraded hose kit – again, super quality. Over the pond here in the UK we have learnt so much from those guys! Thank you to BlackGlass Cheshire for working out of hours to upgrade and refine the tints and decals at short notice. And last but by no means least, Automotive Passion for letting me input into the bonnet design, truly making this a one-of-one RS with the highest quality carbon fibre – they provided the bonnet, rear spoiler and sideskirts.”