Audi claims its latest TT RS is a serious contender, Porsche that its new four- cylinder 718 Cayman S is still the pick of its class, while BMW’s M2 has all the ingredients to be the best sports coupe of all. So which wins the fight?
On Road – North Moors
The little orange Porsche’s flat-four thumps coarsely at idle from just behind my kidneys. For once, I am oblivious to it. I am completely transfixed by an Audi TT seemingly heading for a massive accident. Up ahead, road-test editor is getting the new TT RS out of shape for photograph’s camera on the far hairpin of Bedford Autodrome’s West Circuit. The TT dives aggressively into the corner then pitches nose up as the road test editor gets committed with the throttle, markedly gaining speed in the process. Suddenly the tail yaws to the side, by perhaps 25 degrees but no more, and then it stays locked onto that drift angle, still gaining speed, the front wheels almost straight, the rears spinning up, engine howling.
However, there is no accident: this is just what the new TT RS does under power. Already I get the distinct feeling it may be a TT unlike any other.
Right. Focus. There’s a 718 Cayman S to be driven, and while slippery conditions mean we’ve decided to abandon going for lap times today, the session reminds us all why Porsche’s mid-engined coupe is a wondrous thing. It’s so agile and delicate, and when specced with a limited-slip diff, as it is here, the Autodrome’s greasy surface is an unintimidating giggle. If you’ve got around $55,000 to spend on a new sports coupe that requires no compromise in daily use, the Cayman S surely remains the default choice.
Or does it? Two contenders suggest otherwise, so over the next three days we intend to really drill down into what each of our trio offers. After slithering around the Autodrome, we’ll head to the North York Moors for a day, stop off at Blyton Park for another attempt at some lap times (pray for dry tarmac), then visit Bruntingthorpe to gather some straight-line data. By the end of it we should know if four, five or six cylinders is the magic number.
When we finally leave the Bedford Autodrome it’s freezing cold and dark, and the prospect of being on the North York Moors before our hostelry’s kitchen closes for night seems of utmost importance. I get the pick of the cars, and out of curiosity I elect for the newcomer.
I’m soon gazing longingly at the glowing tail lamps of the third car here – a BMW M2 – because I just can’t get comfortable in the TT RS. Given that our limbs come in all shapes and sizes, this may not apply to you, but the road-test editor will later admit to the same problem: the flat- bottomed wheel doesn’t extend near enough to the driver, so to avoid stretching I’m sitting too near to the pedals, and my right leg and hip are soon singing away merrily.
You’d hope for much better from a car that costs £51,800. That’s a lot of money for what aesthetically appears to be little more than a TT with a more elaborate – some might say too elaborate – bodykit.