Row or boxer? Sports coupes with 300 hp in the test

Row or boxer? Sports coupes with 300 hp in the test

It’s quite possible that the Audi TT and Porsche 718 Cayman will be the last of their kind. While they’re still considering a successor to the iconic coupe at Audi at the moment, the next mid-engine sports car generation is being electrified at Porsche. So let’s enjoy these two sports cars while we can! And – because we’re auto motor und sport – we’ll test which one is better.

When cornering, the TTS always sticks close to the Cayman’s rear. But only the 718 T celebrates every single apex excessively.

The Cayman has already proven that it is a good one. With the new T (as in Touring), Porsche has reduced the 718 to the essentials-that is, driving pleasure. That’s why it wears retro lettering on the doors and has a lowered body and lush 20-inch wheels. On the inside, however, there are no loops instead of door handles, and a storage compartment instead of infotainment. Porsche offers the latter as a free extra. The driver drops low when getting in and is caught by perfectly cut carbon shells (5,355 euros). Full of anticipation for what is about to come, you fondle the Alcantara steering wheel, stroke the shortened shift knob, and play with the drive mode dial, which is part of the Sport Chrono package (standard here).

You search in vain for a place for the water bottle. Your Android smartphone can be stored in the armrest, but it doesn’t talk to the optional 2,261 euro infotainment system. Porsche only understands Apple Carplay. On the other hand, the touchscreen responds quite quickly, sorts its menus clearly, and navigates unerringly with online data.

Porsche 718 Cayman, Exterieur

Cayman: Analog tachometer, fine-nerve steering, and manual transmission with short travel provide typical Porsche feeling.

Porsche with feeling

Porsche has conscientiously laid plenty of optional Alcantara. The aforementioned door loops, belts and other decorative materials can be colored to suit your mood and bank balance. As you can see, saving money is relative in the Touring model. Porsche is only economical with space. The Cayman does have room for suitcases, but they have to be placed under the front hatch (150 liters) and behind or above the boxer (275 liters). When maneuvering, at the latest, you miss the rear-view camera in the test car.

The TTS, which is also quite confusing, can even park itself if desired. This prevents scratches on the sheet metal, which was tightened in the course of the facelift. The test car shines with Matrix LEDs (920 euros) and comes with the 6,500 euros Competition package. This puts it on 20-inch wheels and adds a fixed spoiler to the rear. Audi generously upholsters the interior and fits integral seats as standard, although you have to pay extra for their electric adjustment and pneumatic seat bolsters.

As is typical for Audi, the interior has a very high-quality feel and is meticulously finished. A lot of carbon and red center markings on the Alcantara steering wheel spread a sporty flair. Even four people can enjoy this – at least as long as the rear passengers fit into a child seat. If you are traveling as a couple, you can fold down the rear seat back and expand the 305-liter cargo space to 712 liters suitable for long-distance travel.


Audi TTS, Exterieur

The TTS requires 113 meters of braking distance from 190 km/h. Almost two car lengths less than the Cayman T.

Instead of looking at an analog tachometer like in the Porsche, the driver in the TTS looks at its digital counterpart. An extra 2,550 euros not only adds a variety of views to the cockpit display, but also infotainment functions. This frees up space in the center console and reduces the control terminal to six buttons and a rotary pushbutton with touchpad on the top. A blessing when you think of the touchscreen giants from Audi’s luxury class models, especially since the voice control listens to every word.

There used to be more music

In the test car, the B&O sound system provides the interior with 680 watts from twelve speakers. A thoroughly recommendable investment, even if it costs 850 euros. The TTS four-cylinder engine is disappointing in terms of sound, despite the twin tailpipes. Slowed down by the gasoline particulate filter, it not only loses voice, but also some power compared to the pre-facelift.

With 306 hp and 400 Nm of torque remaining, however, there can be no question of shortcomings. Above all, because the four-cylinder in-line engine is ready to go from the word go. With Quattro and optional sports tires (Pirelli P Zero Corsa), it bites into the tarmac, storming to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and showing the rear-wheel-drive and manually shifted Cayman the back lights even beyond that. The Porsche clearly misses its factory specification and only starts to overtake at 200 km/h – which is probably also due to the better Cd value of 0.30 (TTS 0.31). In addition, it only stops at 275 km/h, while the TTS runs into the limiter at 250. On the brakes, however, the 1,436 kg and thus 71 kg overweight compared to the 718 T is hardly noticeable. No matter at what speed – the TTS stops faster. By the way: Audi installs a brake kit on the front axle for 700 euros. A guide vane on the wishbone, the cooling duct in the wheel arch and the brake cover plate, which sits behind the brake disc on the axle, thus ensure better cooling. For ten times the price, the Porsche test car has a ceramic brake system that has even finer dosing and is more stable under extreme stress.

Audi TTS, Motor

The TFSI of the TTS pulls strongly and delivers perfect dry grip with the sports tires. Together, the ams values are consistently better than those of the 718 T.

The €1,100 sports tires help the TTS achieve excellent scores not only in braking, but also in the driving dynamics rating. They sit on machined aluminum rims from the Performance Parts program, which cost 5,100 euros and save two kilograms of weight per wheel. Less unsprung mass naturally has a positive effect on handling. The same applies to the cross-member, which increases stiffness on the rear axle for 300 euros. However, even these measures cannot completely prevent the all-wheel-drive car’s slight steering understeer. And so, in slalom and double lane changes, the TTS is on a par with the roll-resistant Cayman T, which rolls on normal Pirelli P Zeros.

Country road is T-time

On the test track, the two have little in common. And on the country road? Subjectively, they’re in different leagues. The 718 Touring thrives on its balanced weight distribution, its low center of gravity and the ultra-direct manner that only a mid-engine sports car can produce. With the sensitive steering, you take every corner perfectly, hit all apexes right away, and need less steering angle than in the TTS. In addition, the optional power steering Plus for 262 euros doesn’t hide anything from the road surface. Just as little as the standard sports suspension including 20 millimeters of lowering leaves hardly any unevenness unmentioned. If you deactivate the ESP in the Cayman, you really deactivate it. Then the T twitches with the rear end, but leaves it at that and doesn’t veer off course. With the electronic assist activated, torque vectoring and the mechanical rear axle differential lock ensure absurd cornering speeds.

Porsche 718 Cayman, Exterieur

The Cayman T, which is manually shifted and has a very long gear ratio in second gear, needs 5.4 seconds to reach 100 km/h. The Cayman T is a real driving pleasure.

That’s great driving fun! And that’s already in the lead. What’s more, the test car doesn’t lug around an expensive PDK that weighs 30 kilograms more, but wants to be pulled by hand. Clack, clack – the short travel always fits. Dynamic transmission mounts also minimize driveline vibrations that otherwise affect driving dynamics. And yet there’s no real happy ending.

Why? Porsche translates the second gear much too long due to the WLTP restrictions. Although 380 Nm are already available at 2,150 rpm, you often have to shift down to first in hairpin turns. Subjectively, the four-cylinder turbo builds up too little pressure at the bottom. It takes a little while until all 300 horses are gathered at six-five. On the other hand, the boxer in Sport and Sport Plus responds almost like suction and supports downshifts with automatic intermediate throttle. 
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it isn’t. The four-cylinder engine often lapses into a droning rattle. An annoying sound experience that takes place directly behind the driver’s ear and does not improve on the way to the limiter at 7,500 rpm. The only remedy is probably the six-cylinder naturally aspirated engine, which Porsche recently revived with the GTS 4.0.

Audi TTS, Porsche 718 Cayman T, Exterieur

 

With 306 hp, the Audi has exactly 6 hp more than its competitor from Zuffenhausen in a direct comparison and costs around 8,000 euros less at 70,075 euros.

Just to make that clear: The Audi’s two-liter powerplant doesn’t exactly fall into performance euphoria either. However, because the DSG skilfully overcomes the turbo lag, the four-cylinder responds quickly from any rpm position. The dual-clutch transmission shifts gears in a fraction of a second, but even in manual mode it interferes with the driver’s gear selection and always shifts up before the limiter. In S position and at forced speeds, it quickly lapses into hectic, whereas in D it occasionally lapses into lethargy. As a result, you feel less involved in the driving action, less carried away, even though you’re going fast. This is because the safe handling inspires confidence, which is further enhanced by the sensitive stability control. Moreover, the standard progressive steering is one of the best that Audi currently builds. And the grip in dry conditions never seems to break down.

Unlike the Porsche, however, the Audi doesn’t see every corner as a challenge. Instead, it leaves you alone in everyday life, has a slightly more balanced suspension, and consumes a bit less fuel. In the end, this wins the test, which the Porsche sacrifices on the altar of emotion. Long may they both continue to exist.

 

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