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The upcoming US debut of the Audi TT RS has quite a few people justifiably excited. Much of the conversation surrounding it focuses on the fact that it makes a worthy adversary for the Porsche Cayman, but with an anticipated price somewhere in the range of $60,000, it has another, much more unlikely rival. Grand Sport is the predictably optimistic name given to the Corvette model just above the base, and it is this model that is oddly within the sights of the TT RS.
Much has been made of the new 2.5-liter turbo mill in the TT RS, and there is a very good reason for this. The torque plateau created by the forced induction means that even though the peak horsepower and torque figures come in about 100 short of the Corvette's, the TT RS is just .2 seconds slower to 60 and .6 seconds slower through the quarter mile. The Euro-spec TT RS is also equipped with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and launch control, features which make the TT RS .7 seconds faster to 60 than the Grand Sport and .5 seconds faster in the quarter mile.
So the potential is there for the TT RS to be faster in a straight line, even if US buyers won't have this option. Handling is fairly comparable, the engine in the TT RS is transverse mounted, rather than longitudinally mounted and hanging way out in front of the front axle, like it is on other Audi models; this means the TT RS doesn't suffer as much from the characteristic Audi understeer problem. The Grand Sport, on the other hand, lacks a fair amount of the sophistication that is put into the higher-priced Corvettes, and ends up being a bit tail-happy as a result. This particular difference illustrates the main difference between the two cars.
These days, the Corvette is meant to be a 911 rival, with the ZR1 taking on the Turbo and the Z06 taking on the Carrera. These are therefore the only Corvettes that matter, and Chevrolet has taken to treating the Grand Sport with a sort of distain. It is built only out of a sense of obligation to provide an inexpensive model, and is obviously and conspicuously made worse in order to keep Z06 and ZR1 buyers from wondering what they paid all that extra money for. The TT RS is based on the same platform as the VW Golf, and Audi put a lot of effort into making it extra special, also to keep customers from wondering what they're paying extra for.
It is a matter of choosing between a car at the top of its range or one that's at the bottom. This difference in the philosophy behind the two cars is most apparent in the interiors. The ZR1 and Z06 have nice interiors, but the Grand Sport's interior is inferior to the TT RS's in a way that is simply inexcusable when the two cost the same. By focusing so much on the top end of the Corvette lineup, Chevy has forgotten that $60,000 is still a lot of money, and you can still get a car that's nice to be in for that price, even if it isn't as fast as a 911.
Their neglecting of the Grand Sport is why it is now in danger of competition from not just Porsche, but even the hairdresser's car that is the TT. This is not something that they should have let happen to the Corvette. What Chevrolet has done with the Grand Sport is insulted their buyers by essentially telling them that they're lucky to get a Corvette for that price at all, and they certainly don't deserve anything nice to go with it.