Already available in Europe, the third-generation Audi TT has yet to arrive in U.S. dealerships. And by the time the new coupe starts roaming North American streets later this year, Audi may have already launched the hot TT-RS version. The beefed-up compact just hit the streets for a new testing session, suggesting its debut is closer than ever.

How do I know this is the TT-RS and not the milder TTS as suggested by the prototype’s body details? Well, the spy photographers that took these shots managed to take a closer look at the brake calipers and reported each has an "RS" logo painted over. Moreover, a sticker on one of the rear dampers carried the same lettering. The third hint lies in the bigger brake discs, which you can see in the photos above and below. Nice try, Audi!

While the next TT-RS’ styling isn’t much of a mystery — look for a slightly more aggressive TTS with aero updates front and rear — the engine Audi is working on is. Most reports claim the souped-up coupe could get either the familiar 2.5-liter five-cylinder found in the RS3 or a heavily modified 2.0-liter turbo-four, likely similar to the one in the Golf R400. If I were to take a guess, I’d say Audi will keep the five-pot and simply upgrade it to deliver around 400 horsepower. That would be a significant improvement over the TT-RS Plus and its 355 horses.

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Why it matters

It was August 2014 the first time the new TT-RS was spotted taking laps on the Nurburgring track. This means the high-performance compact has been under development for more than a year and it will soon be a full 12 months since Ingolstadt commenced real-world testing. Assuming all the new internals are already in place, including the beefed-up engine, it shouldn’t take more than a few months for the third-gen TT-RS to break cover at an important auto show. That said, I expect it to make its global debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show this September and travel to the U.S. for the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Stay tuned for more details.

2017 Audi TT RS - Spy Shots

Audi TT RS Mule Caught Testing: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
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Audi TT RS Mule Caught Testing: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
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Audi TT RS Mule Caught Testing: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
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You can read our speculative review here.

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