The Audi TT RS has burst onto the sports coupe scene in a flurry of loud noises and outlandish styling. It promises stunning performance, helped in no small part by the German marque’s famous quattro four-wheel-drive system.
The near-simultaneous debut of the Porsche 718 Cayman S marks an extensive overhaul for what is regarded by many as the current performance coupe king. Will the Audi offer enough talent to topple the Porsche’s dominance of the class? Read on to find out…
Audi TT RS vs Porsche 718 Cayman S styling
To help the RS to stand out from lesser models, Audi has fitted a gaping honeycomb grille, flanked by two further air intakes and ‘quattro’ lettering. At the back, an optional rear spoiler sits above a pair of fat tailpipes and a diffuser. Standard alloy wheels measure 19-inches in diameter, with a set of forged lightweight 20-inch units offered optionally. OLED lights at rear are another extra, but give the rear an eye-catching three-dimensional appearance. LED headlights are standard.
In contrast, the 718 Cayman S looks almost understated, but the sleek, neatly proportioned shape is attractive nevertheless. The front end gains sharper headlights and reshaped lower vents to set the new 718 apart from the previous Cayman, but it’s at the back where Porsche has treated it to the biggest updates. A black strip runs the width of the car beneath the rear spoiler, and now houses the Porsche badge. The taillight graphics have been completely redesigned, and the bumper has been tweaked too.
Audi TT RS vs Porsche 718 Cayman S interior
The TT RS’ dashboard is a triumph of modern subtlety – the three central air vents house the air conditioning controls within their centres, and sit above a tall sporty transmission tunnel, which enhances the snug, low-slung driving position. The steering wheel, trimmed in leather and grippy Alcantara, is inspired by the R8 supercar and is fantastic to hold.
While the Cayman’s cabin perhaps isn’t quite as stunning to look at as the Audi’s, its ergonomic layout and perceived quality are hard to fault. The driving position is great, the pedals perfectly placed and the dials – regular analogue clocks, unlike the Virtual Cockpit setup used by the TT – are large and clear. The steering wheel, borrowed from the 918 hypercar, is arguably even nicer than the Audi’s too.
Audi TT RS vs Porsche 718 Cayman S driving
To lift the driving experience above that of lesser TTs, the RS gains a raft of chassis and suspension tweaks. The whole car rides 10mm lower to the ground, and the spring and damper rates – the latter of which can be adjusted via a button on the steering wheel – have been tuned specifically for the RS. Likewise, the variable ratio steering, whose resistance increases at speed to allow a mix of easy town driving and confidence-inspiring cornering at speed. Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive ensures fantastic all-weather traction and, if you somehow feel the standard 370mm steel brakes will be adequate, carbon-ceramic items are optionally available.
Despite the changes, it’ll take something truly special for the TT RS to beat the 718 for enjoyment and excitement. Unlike the front-engined Audi, the Cayman’s motor is mounted just behind the driver, and directs all of its power to the rear axle. This layout has long given Porsche’s mid-engined efforts a chassis balance and agility unmatched by almost any of its competitors. Porsche has decided to equip the latest 718 with steering 10 per cent more responsive than the previous Cayman, and the rear wheels are a half-inch wider to improve traction.
Audi TT RS vs Porsche 718 Cayman S engines
It’s under the bonnet where the Audi should gain its biggest advantage over the Porsche. The TT RS is powered by a 2.5-litre turbocharged engine pumping out 395hp. Performance is staggering – 0-62mph takes just 3.7 seconds and top speed is restricted to 155mph but can be raised to 174mph with an extra tick on the options list.
It isn’t just the performance, but the character of this engine should help it truly stand out. The unit’s five-cylinder layout – a nod to Audi’s iconic UR Quattro rally cars of the 1980s – endows it with a sumptuous noise. It’ll make extracting every last one of the TT’s revs a completely addictive experience.
Like the Audi, the 718 Cayman S uses a turbocharged 2.5-litre engine, but instead there is one cylinder fewer, and they’re arranged in a ‘boxer’ layout. With testers already grabbing time behind the wheel of the open top 718 Boxster with the same engine, many have noted that it sounds a little flat and lacking in ‘personality’.
Though performance has improved compared to the six-cylinder motor used by the previous Cayman S, the 718’s 345hp and 310lb ft of torque can’t compete with the Audi. As a result, the 4.2-second 0-62mph time – though undoubtedly rapid – falls short of the TT.
Driving enthusiasts will be pleased to discover that the 718 Cayman gets a six-speed manual transmission as standard, with a seven-speed automatic PDK optionally available. The Audi, on the other hand, can only be ordered with a dual-clutch automatic, using paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel.
Audi TT RS vs Porsche 718 Cayman S value for money
Prices for the Audi TT RS are yet to be confirmed, though we predict it’ll be slightly more pricey than the £48,834 that Porsche asks for the 718 Cayman S.
In day-to-day running, the Porsche is likely to be marginally the more frugal of the pair – achieving a claimed fuel consumption figure of 34.9mpg. The Audi is predicted to be slightly thirstier – a less powerful version of the five-cylinder lump is used by the Audi RS3, so expect the TT to achieve slightly less than that car’s 34.9mpg.
Audi TT RS vs Porsche 718 Cayman S verdict
At a time when Porsche is receiving flack for switching to a less tuneful four-cylinder engine, the Audi’s glorious sounding five-cylinder turbo might just be the perfect antidote for some driving enthusiasts. Consider the Audi’s superior straight line speed, traction and cabin quality, and the TT RS might truly best the 718 Cayman.
For many, however, the Porsche will keep his mantle of the ultimate performance coupe – unrivalled handling and the availability of a manual gearbox should see to that. We can’t wait to see who comes out on top when we try them both on UK roads.