Review by Lesley Wimbush, photos by staff

Take two world-class German sports cars, pit them against each other, and what do you have?

2014 Porsche Cayman S vs 2013 Audi TT RS2014 Porsche Cayman S vs 2013 Audi TT RS
2014 Porsche Cayman S vs 2013 Audi TT RS. Click image to enlarge

We hoped we’d have an answer to the seemingly endless debate amongst our readers that arises whenever the Audi TT RS is compared to the Porsche Cayman.

It’s hard to imagine a more closely matched set of competitors.

In one corner, we have Audi’s TT RS.

2013 Audi TT RS
2013 Audi TT RS. Click image to enlarge

From the tip of its blunt snout to its little fighter jet spoiler, this hi-po version of Audi’s popular sports car puts to rest those silly ‘chick car’ accusations. Our “Sepang Blue” tester features matte-aluminum trim on the R8-esque front intakes, capping the side mirrors and embellishing the fixed rear wing. The entire strutting peacock-blue package rides on 19-inch wheels wrapped in very low–profile rubber.

The cabin’s spartan simplicity is perfectly suited to sense of purpose – instead of the myriad embellishments found in its more luxurious brand-mates, it has straightforward and user-friendly ergonomics. No sifting through endless screens to change the climate control – three round central knobs perform all the basic functions.

Although simple, it still shows the level of detail that has established Audi as a benchmark for interior craftsmanship: leather-clad panels finished in contrasting stitching, suede door panel inserts and aluminum trimmed gauge panel, console and shifter knob.

2013 Audi TT RS2013 Audi TT RS2013 Audi TT RS2013 Audi TT RS
2013 Audi TT RS. Click image to enlarge

The deeply bolstered racing-style seats are upholstered in thick leather. While the TT RS does have a back seat – it’s little more than a nicely upholstered parcel shelf. Best kept for people you’d like to stop giving rides to, or those whose visit you’d like to cut short. But hey – having them could score brownie points when it comes to insurance payments, and folding them flat produces almost 700 litres of cargo space. And then there’s that sloping hatchback – raise it up and you can easily load groceries, boxes, even modest Home Depot building supplies.

A great steering wheel is a focal point in a driver’s car and this is a good one. Fat, grippy, and flat-bottomed, it adds to the TT RS’s overall attitude of serious performance car. Ditto the stitched-leather shifter boot and hand-brake. But the steering does at times feel overly “boosted”. At low speeds it feels too light and quick without the comforting heft of the Porsche’s.

And while the Europeans get the seven-speed R-tronic DCT transmission our TT RS is blessed with a bona-fide six-speed manual shifter. For once we’re the recipients of performance largesse and not left envying those across the pond. The notchy six-speed has nice short throws and the drilled aluminum pedals and firm clutch are perfectly suited for fancy footwork. It doesn’t take long for the driver to achieve perfect simpatico with this gearbox, it’s nearly impossible to mess up a shift.

2013 Audi TT RS2013 Audi TT RS2013 Audi TT RS2013 Audi TT RS
2013 Audi TT RS. Click image to enlarge

Fire up the 2.5L mill and the TT RS erupts in a raspy bark. The five-cylinder, turbo-charged engine harkens back to the legendary Quattros of the 80s which dominated the world rally stages.

There’s a fairly decent sound system, but you’ll have to crank it to 11 to hear it over the exhaust note. At low revs, it tends to get a bit overwhelming on extended drives – its relentless droning coupled with the tympanic thrumming of the low-profile tires make conversation a challenge.

Large two-piece racing style brake rotors with “RS” badged four-piston callipers look great lurking behind the aluminum rims – and work as well as they look.

2013 Audi TT RS
2013 Audi TT RS. Click image to enlarge

Audi’s Magnetic Ride – which allows the driver to adjust the suspension from pliant to firm at the touch of a button – is standard on the TT RS.

The TT RS is incredibly nimble and goes exactly where you put it, it’s absolutely delightful to throw about a twisty roadway. The suspension is firm to the point of harsh however, and in sport mode it’s downright brutal over rough pavement. Bumps and ruts are transmitted throughout the cabin and particularly through the seat bottoms.

Not only does it boast the formidable Audi Quattro all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring – endowing it with an uncanny sure-footedness in even the slipperiest conditions, but the TT RS can – in a pinch – seat four.

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