Alfa Romeo 4C vs Porsche Cayman: video track battle

27 Jan, 2014 3:04pm

The new Alfa Romeo 4C might look the part, but can it beat the Porsche Cayman on a hot lap?

Alfa Romeo is one of the most evocative names in the world of motoring, but for the last few decades, the firm hasn't had a sports car that lives up to its illustrious sporting heritage. Now it has - the Alfa Romeo 4C.

With a carbon fibre chassis, dual-clutch gearbox and a mid-engine layout, the spec sheet reads like a supercar, yet it costs less than £50,000. But how does it compare to arguably the best mid-engined sports car in the world: the Porsche Cayman? Watch our Auto Express track battle to find out.

The stunning 4C is a return to Alfa Romeo's sports car past. With its carbon fibre chassis, it weights just 895kg. Meanwhile, the 1.7-litre four-cylinder turbo engine produces 270bhp and 350Nm of torque.

Alfa Romeo 4C review

Now into its second generation, the Porsche Cayman is famous for its perfect handling. The 2.7-litre flat-six engine has 271bhp and 290Nm of torque, but the car weighs 1,310kg - 400kg more than the carbon-fibre Alfa Romeo.

• Porsche Cayman review

So many things about the Cayman just feel perfect - the second you drive onto the circuit you just feel absolutely at the centre of the action.

There's a little bit of body roll in the corners but nothing bad, you know it's just such a wonderfully, well-balanced car. The Porsche is a joy to drive and lapped the circuit in 1 minute 12.7 seconds, but the question is: is the Alfa Romeo going to be faster?

The first thing you notice about the car is that it doesn't have power steering. Surely the reason for not having power steering is to save weight, but also to give you an uninterrupted purity of steering feel - unfortunately, the steering feel isn't very good.

The steering really squirms around and kicks back quite a lot. But you can't really feel what the front end is doing which is a shame because the one thing you're going to want if you've got no power steering is good steering feel.

The engine's quite coarse, it's not a nice noise like the six-cylinder Porsche. The dual-clutch gearbox is pretty quick and perfectly suited to the job. The other disappointing thing is the brake pedal - it's very strong and there's plenty of stopping power, but there's not a lot of feel to it and it's quite hard to brake progressively.

However the body control around high-speed corners is just amazing. There's hardly any roll in this car and it does feel like a really planted track car.

Incredibly, given how different they are to drive this pair record an identical lap time around our test track. That's the first time that's ever happened - so what's going to win our track battle?

Well the Alfa is beautiful, has loads of grip and fantastic body control but unfortunately it lacks the sublime chassis, communication and fingertip feel of the Porsche. The Cayman is also more practical, cheaper and better to live with day-to-day.

So, while we love the look of the Alfa, the all-round abilities of the Cayman make it one of the best sports cars money can buy - and it wins this track battle.

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I am so skeptical about these lap times because 4C beats Cayman for one second in drag race to 100km/h and compare the power to weight ratio where 4C has advantage of more than 60bhp. It is really impressive what the Italians did with the exhaust, I didn't think that the 4 cylinder could sound like that.

The Porschr lap starts at 2:54 and ends at 4:10. So it did it in closer to 1.15s... check how the stopwatch of the Porsche disappears. When it comes back 66s of the lap has passed yet the stopwatch showed 63.5s... wow 2.5s just disappeared off the Porsches clock. Yet the stopwatch for the 4C is there all the time.

The Porsche time looks to have been rigged. This video is a joke

So you choose a sportscar based on practicality and not looks... ja, not sure you were the right man for the job. Not because you didn't choose my fav. of the two, but because of your bases for choosing a sportscar, an object of desire and emotions, not practicality... sho.

There's no possible way that Cayman is quicker than a 4C around track, sorry AE but it's totally ridiculous.

Clearly this is an edited video and the images don't reflect the exact series of events. That doesn't mean those times weren't recored, though.

Ah yes.. and the audio of the hotlaps? Edited too then. Time the laps based on the audio of the driver (when he states he starts and ends each lap) and you find the same result. Porche is much slower. But by some amazing stroke of luck the Porsche got the same time as the 4C.

No doubt the Cayman is a great all round sports car but this video cannot possibly carry any sort of credibility. Im sure all the editing was done to create the impression the Porsche was as quick as the 4C.

And the Porsche has an empty tank yet the 4C's is almost full. Surely that's unfair too?

The video is joke as there are far to many inconsistencies. The Porsche is empty, 4C full of fuel. The 4C stopwatch is visible all the time, the Porsches goes away and comes back later with 2.5s shaved off between video time and the stop watch. Why is that that it went away? So you can quickly shave a few seconds off it?

Sorry Autoexpress but to many inconsistencies to take this video seriously

Sorry if I was unclear. Our hot laps were set under the same conditions, regardless of what the images in the video display.

The shots were taken over a long series of laps so that we could produce a higher-quality video by picking the best-looking clips.

Chris Harris review: "the 4C demolishes the Cayman for steering weight and feel".

Auto Express review: "unfortunately, the steering feel isn't very good.The steering really squirms around and kicks back quite a lot".

Hmmmmmmm......... surely steering feel is an objective measure.... so either Harris(avowed Porsche enthusiast) is wrong or Auto Express is wrong... I would tend to trust Harris I must say. Sounds like one reviewer is a car enthusiast and the other should be in a Yaris. Or maybe if it was a Lotus or 911 GT3 steering wheel that was "squirming around and kicking back" that'd be a positive thing for Auto Express...

I honestly can't understand how the two cars could set the same lap time either. All of the figures suggest the Alfa should be faster. The only thing that might stop that would be if the Alfa handled realy terribly but by all accounts it handles very well....I smell a rat too I'm afraid.

After Autocar brought the two on track and didn't give us lap-times this is another fishy result.... I don't buy it. If the two cars were tested by the same driver, in the same conditions, with the same tyres, then the Alfa should surely be (considerably) faster.

Lets be honest, no one who cares about this sort of test is going to by a 'non-S' Cayman

I think 4CFan made a valid point here. Fairness has to be seen to be exercised and when you watch the video and pair whats depicted with proven statistics, AE seem to be manipulating the outcome. No amount of 'justification' is going to change this impression. Shame because the written review of the car was as I read it nicely balanced...

To be honest, I don't care a monkey's about which one is fastest round a track. The Porsche is a very good car but it isn't an Alfa so for that reason alone, the 4C is the car I'd choose.

Just a typo.... The 4C has 237 HP, not 270....
Also its weight, even with a full tank of 60 lt is no more than 40 Kgr extra.....

Aaaahhh the usual pro
German trollop!!!
It seems to me that AE can't be seen to be telling the truth, i.e that the Alfa is the better and faster car because that would be going against it's German pay-masters!!! who can ever have respect for this mag?

the Alfa does grow on me everytime i see it. the cayman is a brilliant technical exercise but lacks the looks. the Alfa is the bit of fresh air thats needed in the market. this and the F-type are the 2 most interesting cars to enter the market this year that is so dominated by german and Japanese companies. what i would like is to see alfa's autodelta division resurrected and make some serious road going racing cars.

Comparing these two seems like the old F40/959 comparison to me. On paper the price/performance was similar but in reality they were poles apart and appealed to two very different customers.

Ok, so Porsche good, Alfa bad. Got it.

Please explain : last time you tested a Cayman S when the track was warm and dry, and it was only a marginal second quicker.
Either Porsche rips off their customers or you rip off your viewers... which one is it?

Easy boys,when you buy a Cayman, choose the GTS type with the 340hp,and forget Alfa.

The test are always biased toward the German cars.

VW/Audi pays these editors to say what they want..Remember VW wants to buy Alfa,and Sergio said NEVER.Thank God he did not.