Audi TT RS vs Porsche 718 Boxster S

Audi’s new TT RS Roadster has 395bhp five-cylinder power. Is it more fun than Porsche’s controversial turbo Boxster S?

It’s been an unsettled year in many ways, with political shake-ups on both sides of the Atlantic, and in the automotive world there have been a few shocks, too.

In the open-top sports car sector, the status quo could potentially be shattered with the arrival of the Audi TT RS Roadster. Noise is a crucial part of any two-seater convertible’s appeal, and with the roof down in the TT your ears will be treated to a rich five-cylinder soundtrack.

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Previously, the Porsche Boxster has always been the king of the convertible crop, with a beautifully responsive and glorious-sounding flat-six cylinder engine. However, Porsche updated its roadster earlier this year – and the car has already come in for some criticism.

It's now called the 718 Boxster S, and the flat six engine of its predecessor is no more, replaced by a flat-four turbo that’s more powerful, but arguably also less characterful. To find out just how far the playing field has been levelled, we’re putting these German sports cars head-to-head. Can the TT RS topple the 718 Boxster S and succeed where the less powerful TT S failed against the standard Boxster? Or is the beautiful chassis balance enough to help the Porsche overcome that controversial engine and take road test victory?

Head-to-head

Audi TT RS

ModelAudi TT RS Roadster
Price£53,550
Engine 2.5-litre 5cyl turbo, 395bhp 
0-60mph 3.6 seconds
Test economy23.0mpg/5.1mpl 
CO2189g/km  
Annual road tax£270

The RS is the flagship of the TT range, and this £53,550 Roadster version is also the priciest model in the compact sports car line-up. But it boasts junior supercar pace, so even at this level, it could well be something of a bargain. We find out whether the performance matches the price.

Tester's notes: Once, 395bhp in a TT would have seemed ludicrous, but the four-wheel-drive system gives a sure-footed feel. It doesn’t have the Boxster’s adjustability, but it delivers R8 acceleration for less than half the price.

Porsche 718 Boxster S

ModelPorsche 718 Boxster S
Price£51,105
Engine 2.5-litre flat-four turbo, 345bhp 
0-60mph 4.8 seconds
Test economy23.9mpg/5.3mpl 
CO2184g/km
Annual road tax£230

As part of the updates to the Boxster and Cayman range, Porsche flipped its pricing structure, so the convertible is now the more expensive model. The 718 Boxster S we test here in manual guise costs £51,105 – not far off the TT RS Roadster. So which is the better sports car?

• Best convertible cars on sale right now

Tester's notes: As effective as the 718 Boxster’s engine is, there’s no getting away from the drone it makes. If you’re a fan of the previous model, you might find this the disappointment of an otherwise sublime sports car package.

Verdict

First place: Porsche 718 Boxster S

It’s not as powerful or as fast in a straight line, but the Porsche still offers eye-widening performance – plus its brilliantly involving chassis, gearbox and steering are more than enough to cement its place as the convertible king. It will also be cheaper to buy and run, while its twin-boot arrangement offers just as much practicality as the larger TT.

Second place: Audi TT RS

The TT RS is a stunning effort from Audi, owing to that brilliant engine. It serves up genuine supercar pace in a compact and less pricey package that’s perfectly usable. The trouble is, while it’s nicely built and better equipped than the Boxster, it doesn’t deliver its rival’s thrills or precision, and these are the things that count most in a sports car.

Other options for similar money

New: Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider - front

Price: £59,505Engine: 1.75-litre 4cyl, 237bhp

With its carbon-fibre chassis, junior supercar looks and mid-engined layout, the 4C Spider matches the Boxster for theatre. But the engine is less inspiring, the steering twitchy and the cabin not as refined. It’s also a lot pricier.

Used: Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin V8 Vantage roadster convertible front tracking

Price: £49,995Engine: 4.3-litre V8, 380bhp

A used Aston Vantage puts the TT and 718 in the shade with its glorious 4.3-litre V8. It’s not the best sports car to drive, but it still looks great today. Around £50,000 will get you a 20,000-mile 2009 example.

Figures

 Porsche 718 Boxster SAudi TT RS Roadster
On the road price/total as tested£51,105/£67,824£53,550/£61,020
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£24,454/47.9%£27,675/51.7%
Depreciation£26,651£25,875
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£3,346/£6,692£3,604/£7,207
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£2,600/£4,333£2,701/£4,502
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost46/£860/I/£23046/£638/J/£270
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£485/£615/£485*£309/£465/£309
   
Length/wheelbase4,379/2,475mm4,191/2,505mm
Height/width1,280/1,801mm1,346/1,832mm
EngineFlat-four/2,497cc5cyl in-line/2,480cc
Peak power/revs 345/6,500 bhp/rpm395/5,850 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 420/1,900 Nm/rpm480/1,700 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/rwd7-spd auto/4wd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel64 litres/repair kit55 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity 275 litres280 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,355/310kg/N/A1,530/320kg/N/A
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.0 metres/0.32Cd11.0 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers20,000 miles (2yrs)/36Variable (1yr)/121
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.7th/16th21st/26th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/starsN/A81/68/82/64/4 (2015)
   
0-60/30-70mph4.8/4.0 secs3.6/2.8 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.5/3.3 secs2.0/3.1 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th3.7/4.3 secs/N/A3.8/5.2/7.5 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 177mph/2,700rpm155mph/2,000rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 44.1/31.0/8.8m46.5/33.9/8.7m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph65/55/67/76dB72/55/66/75dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range23.9/5.3/336 miles23.0/5.1/278 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 26.4/43.5/34.9mpg25.0/43.5/34.0mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 5.8/9.6/7.7mpl5.5/9.6/7.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket317/184g/km/33%329/189g/km/34%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSix/£122/£348/£1,044**Four/yes/yes/£450
Automatic box/stab/cruise ctrl/AEB^£1,922/y/£219/£1,052^^Yes/yes/yes/no
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/part/£284Yes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go£558/yes/£477£550/LED/£455
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£1,052/yes/£284/yesYes/yes/yes/yes

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