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Digital vs Analog: Audi TT vs Porsche Cayman

Digital vs analog, new vs old. This is the age old question. The current generation Porsche Cayman plays the part of the latter in this matchup, being the older more analog player of the two. The Audi TT plays the former role, being the younger more digital car. Both cars aim to do the same thing, provide fun and sporty performance in a small two-seater package, but they go about it very differently.

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Auto Motor Sport has just published a comparison test between both cars and its findings are quite interesting. The Audi TT comes into the battle using a 2.0 liter TFSI engine, making 220 hp, mounted in the front and powering the front wheels (US model TTs will be Quattro only) through a 7-Speed dual-clutch gearbox. The Porsche Cayman brings a 272 hp 2.7 liter naturally aspirated flat-six engine, mounted in the middle, and powers its rear wheels through a 7-Speed PDK gearbox.

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The Porsche Cayman, even in base 2.7 liter form, is widely considered to be the best sports car on the market right now, as it acts as an extension of the driver’s central nervous system. The Cayman is electric in the way it drives, it sends surges of excitement up and down your spine. The steering feels alive in your hands and the chassis feels as if it moves with the motion of your hips. The car as a whole just feels connected to the driver. So it’s a good car to test the TT against.

The Audi TT is the newcomer here, without any kind of reputation to back it. However, it already starts to impress. The chassis feels solid and buttoned down, with taut suspension and quick reflexes. The turn-in is crisp and responsive, surprising given its front-wheel drive nature. The engine pulls strong, despite its 55 hp disadvantage to the Porsche, thanks to its turbocharger. The Porsche might have more power, but the Audi TT doesn’t give up any ground on the road. Its turbocharged engine allows it to pull strongly from down low in its rev range, while the Cayman needs to swing its tach past 4,000 rom before much happens.

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The Audi TT can hang with the Cayman, in terms of performance. There’s no doubt that the TT is a proper modern sports car and has no trouble keeping up with much more expensive and sophisticated cars, like the Cayman. However, where the Cayman shines over the TT is in terms of feel. The Cayman feels organic and alive, like it’s connected with the driver. It feels analog. The TT feels very good, it’s sharp and accurate, but it feels sharp and accurate in a digital way. It’s almost as if the Audi TT is the best possible simulation of what the Cayman is.

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This isn’t so much as an indictment toward the Audi TT as it is a sign of the times. The Porsche sticks with an old philosophy of naturally aspirated engines and rear-wheel drive. While the Audi TT takes a more modern approach with turbocharging and front (or all) wheel drive. If the TT is considered the digital version of the Cayman, that’s about as high of praise a modern sports car can get. It might be fair to say that, in the world of two-seater sports cars, the Porsche Cayman is symbol¬†of where we’ve been and the Audi TT is a symbol of where we’re going.

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Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.