Alfa Romeo 4C vs Porsche Cayman: video track battle

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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