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Audi RS returns in a blaze of small

Audi announces pricing for the TT RS, an Audi performance line that has been in hiatus from the U.S. for three years.

Audi TT RS
The Audi TT RS hits U.S. streets and tracks in the summer of 2011. Audi

Audi classifies its cars with stringent model designations, A standing for your everyday driver, S for a sportier line with enhanced performance equipment, and RS covers anything with no-holds-barred power. The RS stands equivalent to BMW's M or Mercedes-Benz's AMG.

But we haven't had an RS car in the U.S. since 2008. The wait is over for fans of European high-performance with the introduction of the 2012 Audi TT RS this summer. Unlike a 580 horsepower, twin turbo V-10 monster such as the RS6, the TT RS comes out with a more modest turbocharged 2.5-liter five cylinder.

However, even with half the cylinders of the RS6, the TT RS gets 360 horsepower and 343 pound-feet of torque, a nearly ridiculous amount of power for a 3,300 pound 2+2 seater. The TT RS hits 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. A short wheelbase combined with Audi's magnetic active suspension will leave corners shaking at their apexes.

The TT RS would be a blast at track days, and Audi announced that it can be yours for $56,850, undercutting a base M3 by about $2,000. Audi previously released photos of a convertible version of the TT RS, but it does not seem like that variant will be available.