Porsche 718 Cayman S 2016 review
Stephen Corby road tests and reviews the 2016 Porsche 718 Cayman S with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its international launch in Germany.
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Jack Pyefinch road tests and reviews the new Audi TT RS coupe and convertible, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its international launch in Spain.
Most people buy an Audi TT because they love the way it looks, rather than because the way it drives sets their hearts, or pants, afire.
That's why the bulk of its sales are made up by the poverty-pack, entry-level model at just $71,950, but there are sportier, and even properly fast, TTs available for the enthusiast who loves the look so much they're willing to ignore the offerings of Porsche and BMW.
At the very top of this stylish tree sits the TT RS, first seen in Australia in 2010, and selling just 144 units before disappearing.
Now, finally, there's a new one, with so much power, and speed, that even Porsche owners will feel slightly smaller in the trousers when reading its numbers. Try 0 to 100km/h in a staggering, super-car-like 3.7 seconds.
If it can go around corners quickly as well, this new kick RS version might just shake up the super-coupe market.
Yes, compared to a Porsche Cayman S, which starts in the low $140,000s, the mooted $145,000 price tag for the TT RS when it arrives down under, mid next year, seems reasonable, except that it doesn't get you a Porsche badge.
You could argue that you're paying for that extra straight-line speed, but it must come at quite a few grand per tenth of a second when BMW's M2 - capable of 4.1 seconds for the 100 dash - starts at just $89,900.
Even with its super stats, $145K is a lot for a pretty, mean Audi.
Standard equipment is yet to be confirmed but Audi predicts the car will come with LED headlights, heated seats, Audi Side Assist, Active Lane Assist, MMI Navigation Plus, Smartphone Interface, Electric S Sports Seats (with electro-pneumatic bolster, or “hugging” function) and rear camera.
The options list will no doubt be vast and potentially ruinous. The OLED 3D brake lights alone could be as much as $1500.
The absurd amounts of power and torque that this relatively tiny 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine produces are probably worth a 9.9 rating, but in comparison the gearbox is a merely mortal effort.
Keep in mind that, as recently as 2014, Audi's range-topping R8 offered a 4.2-litre V8 that offered 316kW, 430Nm and a 0 to 100km/h dash of 4.3 seconds, then try to digest the fact that this new TT RS makes 294kW, a whomping 480Nm and can explode to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds.
A wonder of modern engineering, the rorty-sounding five-cylinder, with its unusual firing order, is largely built of aluminium with some magnesium bits and weighs an incredible 26kg less than the similarly sized unit it replaces.
If you've ever looked at a TT with lust in your eyes, you're going to love this one.
The shifts from the not hugely improved seven-speed S-tronic are certainly swift and seamless, but considering Audi claims to have benchmarked this car against its obvious competitor, the Porsche 718 Cayman (which is at least a second slower in the 100 dash, no matter how fast it changes gear), it does fall short of the PDK's level of genius when you want to just leave it in Sport and let the computer sort out your down shifts for you.
To properly push the Audi you need to switch into manual mode and make the changes for yourself, which is a lot of fun, to be fair.
Considering the first TT RS launched in Australia was manual only, things have certainly shifted a long way.
Audi claims an impressive 8.2L/100km from this hugely impressive engine, but we reckon you'd have to drive it in a very restrained fashion to get near that figure.
Our launch drive, which isn't really a fair test because we drove it liked it we stole it and had the devil on our heels in a police car, was well into double figures.
The temptation to plant your foot in this car will always be huge, however, because it's so much fun.
Audi's TT has long set the benchmark for coupe design and in recent years has morphed from the rounded, push-me-pull-you Bauhaus smiliness of the original to something more edgy and mean.
That edginess is really given its ultimate expression here, with a thrusting honeycomb grille, pumped up lines and a big, aggressive rear spoiler (which you can delete if you don't want it, so it can't be doing that much in terms of rear downforce).
In short, if you've ever looked at a TT with lust in your eyes, you're going to love this one.
The look and feel of the whole cabin is absolutely top class.
Inside, things are, if possible, even better, with fantastic, supportive seats - the hugging, electro-pneumatic bolsters, which hold you tight around corners, look set to be standard here - that even feature pillowy headrests.
The look and feel of the whole cabin is absolutely top class, and the steering wheel is a straight lift from the Audi R8, which means leather and Alcantara and a muscular heft.
The boost gauge and g-force meter from the super car also make an appearance here, and the dashboard readout is quite simply the best in the business. The Virtual Cockpit feels like something from the future we're lucky enough to play with today, and using the sat nav in particular is a joy.
No competitor gets close to this cabin.
Back seats really are more of a theoretical construct when it comes to sports cars than an actual physical entity, and the TT is a case in point. As a parcel shelf, or somewhere to throw your jacket and a take-away for one, they work fine. There are ISOFIX child seat mounts if you find yourself in a pickle, however.
The boot is reasonable (305 litres) for a car of this size, and seeing as you'll never have more than one other human in there with you, it's big enough.
The cabin feels tight and small, and you only get one easy to access cup holder, with another hidden under the armrest, which is an outrage, obviously, but there are storage bins in the door that can hold your extra water bottles, should you be exploring a desert.
Six airbags, ABS, Audi Side Assist, Active Lane Assist, traction and stability controls, but NO Autonomous Emergency Braking, when it’s standard on far, far cheaper machines made by the same company with which you share a bank account - and a parts bin - and which basically owns you (hello, Volkswagen). Audi, dearest Audi, are you serious? AEB is now pretty much a minimum requirement for any car, and yet you can’t get it in your TT range at all? Simply not good enough.
The raw numbers tell you before you get in the new Audi TT RS that it's going to be impressively quick, but it's not just the peak power or the acceleration off the line - which the engineers admit is much helped by improved launch-control software - that blow you away.
What really makes this car a weapon is that creamy, dreamy swathe of 480Nm maximum torque, which is at your command from just off idle at 1700rpm all the way to the point where the engine is howling like a demon at 5500rpm.
This makes carving up a section of corners a dipsy doddle, because no matter how low your speed drops for the next hairpin you're back on top of the turbo terrificness in no time, and hurling towards the next bend.
Neutral perfection is what you're given by the TT RS.
This enervating experience is accompanied by a truly unique and grouchily guttural soundtrack, created by the unique five-cylinder engine, with its throaty bark (which can be varied according to your mood using the adjustable exhaust flaps) and strangely sonorous firing order. It certainly sounds a lot better than the new generation of four-cylinder Porsches with which it competes.
The new and properly firecracking engine that makes all this pace possible also improves the sometimes leaden handling of the TT by taking 26kg of weight out of the car's nose. This makes it better balanced and quicker and sharper to turn in, and turns it into a properly worthy weapon for backroad blasting.
Huge bundles of grip are also on offer from the quattro all-wheel-drive system, which now apportions torque to all four corners instantly to set the car up perfectly for each bend, depending on where your traction is and how much you're asking of it.
What you get is a car far removed from its rear-driven competitors, particularly the BMW M2, which handles in a completely different and more playful fashion.
Neutral perfection is what you're given by the TT RS instead; the ability to draw the lines you like through corners and know that they will be executed exactly as you will it.
It all sounds close to perfect, then, and might well be if you're a fan of the traditional Audi way of doing things.
Push beyond the boundaries of good sense and what you'll get is predictable, manageable understeer at the very limit. Despite how fast it is, it really is commendable that the Audi never frightens you, or feels intimidating or dangerous.
The ride quality, with the optional magnetic dampers at least, is excellent, but on the standard suspension you might need to put aside money for dental work, as it can be brutal over expansion joints or large bumps.
It all sounds close to perfect, then, and might well be if you're a fan of the traditional Audi way of doing things, which is to have the steering so light and precise that it feels sadly uninvolving, like playing a video game rather than actually being there.
Yes, your body is pummelled by g-forces, and yes, you'll probably be quicker around track than you would be in a Cayman S, or the M2, but we know, thanks to the latest R8, that Audi can do better steering feel than this, and it's an awful shame that they haven't.
We actually asked a senior Audi bloke what it is they hate about muscular steering and he suggested that giving too much assistance is dangerous at high speeds. Which is not how we'd describe a Porsche, or a BMW M car, both of which have far superior systems.
The pin-sharp effortlessness of the way the Audi handles and turns in will not bother some buyers at all, of course, and they will simply be happy with how much faster they are than the BMW owner, who paid as much as $50K less for his M2, or the Porsche owner who's paid close to the $145,000 that Audi Australia expects the car to cost when it arrives down under, mid next year.
Standard warranty for all Audis is three years and unlimited kilometres, which seems highly reasonable.
The service cost for a TT or TTS is $1610, but the RS version may well end up being more.
The RS service intervals will be 15,000km, or 12 months, thereafter.
Buying a sports car at this end of the market is clearly more about heart than head, because otherwise Audi wouldn't bother, or dare, attempting to charge so much for the TT RS than the $89,990 BMW M2, which is, in the opinion of any reasonable human being, more fun to drive, and only slightly slower.
But if you're all about out-right speed and stonking, super-car levels of performance, and you've got a lot of money, you'll happily pony up for the TT RS, which truly is an astonishing machine.
It's just as fast, and as much fun, as an Audi R8 was just two years ago, and sounds more than half as good as well.
The absolute purist will be letdown by the lack of steering involvement but that small bugbear aside it's a hell of a car for a Saturday-morning blast and takes the TT range to a place it's never been before.
|2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$59,800 – 72,990||2017 AUDI TT 2017 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$55,000 – 63,250||2017 AUDI TT 2017 2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport Pricing and Specs|
|RS QUATTRO||2.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$109,900 – 109,990||2017 AUDI TT 2017 RS QUATTRO Pricing and Specs|
|S 2.0 TFSI Quattro||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP DUAL-CLUTCH AUTO||$70,620 – 81,180||2017 AUDI TT 2017 S 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|