Audi: The TTS starts at just over $100k which makes it $10,717 cheaper than the Porsche, lending it a significant price advantage to start this contest. Standard gear on the Audi includes 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension, keyless entry and ignition, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, Audi’s fully digital dashboard ‘Virtual Cockpit’, a five-speaker sound system with USB input, digital radio and Bluetooth.
Standard safety features are limited to airbag protection for the front seat occupants, a reversing camera and active lane keeping assistance. If you want other active safety features you have to pay extra but even then items like autonomous emergency braking aren’t available.
Porsche: The new 718 Cayman range starts at $110,000 for the manual model but thanks to a break in the luxury car tax for efficient cars the more frugal automatic option is only $1572 extra, instead of the usual $4990. Even so, the Cayman is significantly more than its rival here.
Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, navigation, leather trim and a multimedia system with sat nav, digital radio and Bluetooth/Wifi connectivity.
Safety includes airbags for both occupants but no active safety features.
But, as with most Porsches, there are plenty of options to tick that significantly increase the price. Our test car totalled $143,270 thanks to extras including $4990 Sports Chrono Package, $4840 20-inch wheels, $3190 Porsche Torque Vectoring, $2710 Porsche Active Suspension Management and $1690 for the parking package that includes sensors and reversing camera.
Audi: The four-ring brand has long been a leader in interior design, and the latest TT is a particular high point. The cabin is focused around the driver with all the controls angled towards the driver’s seat. There is no infotainment screen in the centre of the dashboard, instead all that is displayed on the Virtual Cockpit.
The details are what impress, even the air-conditioning controls looks great with the temperature displayed in the centre of dial that is housed inside a beautiful turbine-style air vent.
Audi puts a pair of token rear seats in the back but they are so small and the backrest is so vertical that they can only be used in desperate times.
Porsche: The new 718 Cayman follows the same design style as the rest of the Porsche range, so in many ways it looks like a scaled down version of the 911. For example, the basic layout is the same and the centre console that runs between the seats is the modern Porsche style with the same switchgear as the rest of the range. It looks simple by stylish which makes it user friendly.
While it misses out on the digital display, the Porsche’s old-school dials look great and perfectly suit the character of the car.
While both present well, the Audi’s superior design gives it the edge in this contest.
Audi: The TTS is powered by turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and mated to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission (there is no manual option available). It produces a healthy 210kW of power and 380Nm of torque. If that sounds familiar that’s because it’s the same drivetrain you’ll find in the S3 hot hatch.
It provides the TTS with enough performance to make it feel like a proper sports car, with good response from low down in the rev range and strong pulling power through the middle.
The dual-clutch transmission has the traditional low speed hesitations, but on the move its quick shifts add to the sporty and responsive character of the TTS.
Porsche: The 718 introduces turbochargers to the Cayman for the first time. In this model it is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo – while in the Cayman S you get a larger 2.5-litre unit.
It has a slight power advantage over the Audi with 228kW but torque is a match. While Porsche has kept its trademark boxer style cylinder configuration the soundtrack is very different in this new generation Cayman. There’s more of a guttural growl to it than the crisp bark of the old flat-six.
But the performance is improved, and that’s the important thing for Porsche, with noticeably stronger performance from lower in the rev range.
Porsche’s ‘PDK’ dual-clutch remains the best in the business, with smoother response at low speeds and intuitive shifting.
One negative for both cars is the claimed fuel use was a lot lower than what we achieved in the real world. In the case of the Cayman the move to turbocharging was meant to help reduce emissions but we didn’t come close to hitting its official number.
But it’s performance advantages, from both the engine and gearbox, are enough to give it the win in this round.
How it drives
Audi: While previous TT models could be accused of being a dressed-up Volkswagen Golf, this latest generation feels more like a proper sports car rather than a hot hatch.
The selectable drive modes allow you to alter the responsiveness of the engine, transmission and steering as well as changing the magnetic dampers. But regardless what mode you put it in (Normal, Comfort and Sport are the options) it always feels sporty.
The Achilles’ heel of the TTS is its suspension that is always firm, even in comfort mode. It seems to transmit every bump in the road through the cabin and crashes very hard over over big bumps.
The all-wheel drive transmission is a permanent system, primarily focused on the front wheels and only shuffling power to the rears when circumstances demand, giving it good grip in the bends and traction out of the corners.
Porsche: The Cayman has always been a sweet handling machine. With its engine mounted in the middle it is arguably a better car to drive than the 911 at times. Nothing has changed in that department with new Cayman as it is still an utterly engaging machine to drive.
The steering is excellent, the ride is comfortable and responsive and the chassis feels perfectly balanced.
However, we must make note that our test car did have optional suspension, larger wheels, torque vectoring and the Sports Chrono package which makes a huge difference to its driving character.
Despite that, we have to give this win to the Cayman because, options or not, it is more comfortable to drive in everyday situations and a genuine sports car when driven enthusiastically.
Audi: Buying a two-door sports car is often about making a statement. The TTS certainly has great road presence, and the design looks sharp from every angle. But lined up alongside the Porsche it looks taller, narrower and less dynamic.
Porsche: While it still lacks the level of street cred generated by its big brother, the 911, the 718 continues to evolve the Cayman’s style and give it more on-road presence. This latest generation looks sleek, sporty and premium even when standing still.
Audi: The TT continues to be a style leader for Audi but the TTS brings some substance in terms of performance and dynamics. Despite its better value and more impressive cabin it can’t topple the Porsche in this contest.
Porsche: The 718 Cayman is the better sports car, there’s simply no argument. But it does come at a significantly higher cost. If you can afford the extras you are rewarded with a great sports car. However, even if you can’t the standard 718 Cayman is still a thoroughly impressive machine.
2017 Audi TTS Coupe price and specifications
Price: $100,855 plus on-road costs
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 210kW at 5300-6200rpm
Torque: 380Nm at 1800-5200rpm
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive
Fuel use: 7.0L/100km
2017 Porsche 718 Cayman price and specifications
Price: $111,572 plus on-road costs
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 220kW at 6500rpm
Torque: 380Nm at 1950-4500rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel drive
Fuel use: 6.9L/100km