Fancy treating yourself to a sportscar? We test the Jaguar F-Type against Porsche's 718 Cayman and the Audi TT RS
If you're in the market for a two-door sportscar with plenty of poke - and your pockets are deep enough you're spoiled for choice right now.
The Jaguar F-Type, Porsche Cayman and Audi TT RS all come with monumental motors, chicane-trimming cornering ability and spades of sex appeal.
But which one should you choose to buy (or dream of owning)? We've pitted all three against each other to give you our defining verdict on which of these accomplished coupes you should choose.
Top choice coupes: The Audi TT RS (left) and Porsche 718 Cayman S (right) are both new for 2016. Can they dethrone the Jaguar F-Type S as the sportscar to have right now?
In the sort of area we are here, the list price doesn’t tend to accurately reflect what a car costs.
For example, you could get a baseline Jaguar F-Type for about £52,000. But add in the 380bhp engine and the S Coupe manual, then add in some extras and you arrive at a final figure of £72,000.
All three here cost considerably more than their base prices. However, with that caveat out the way, which one of these three luscious bits of metal should be owned by you?
You might think the £51,800 price of the Audi TT RS is pretty high, given that it shares a lot of underpinnings with many other cars in the VW Group’s extensive stable, including the Golf, Audi A3 and others.
However, that fabulous five-cylinder engine, particularly when linked to the optional sports exhaust, really does make it stand out.
It howls up the scales, with a lot of mid-range punch and then a top end zip that is exhilarating. The seven-speed auto box does tend to make decisions for you, ones you might not want to make, even in manual mode, but this is a thriller.
Before 2016, the Jaguar F-Type (left) was the coupe to have. But in the last 12 months the arrival of the Porsche Cayman (middle) and Audi TT RS (right) has made that decision a whole lot more difficult. That's why we've pitched all three against each other
Don't overlook the five-cylinder powerplant in the Audi. It's not only outrageously rapid it also makes a wonderful noise
Inside, the TT RS feels that bit more special, spacious and manageable day-to-day. Our test car came with this contrast colour mix that works really well. Does it feel like a little race car from the driver's seat? You bet it does
The whole car feels light and agile, but it is a bit front heavy so even with all-wheel drive this isn’t going to be the ultimately balanced tool for rapid cornering. But the bits between the corners will shrink rapidly.
If you think the TT RS is expensive, then perhaps you want to look at the Porsche Cayman S, which is the cheapest car here – on base price – by about £3000.
But, whereas the five-cylinder engine in the Audi thrills and sounds fantastic, here we are with the four-cylinder flat-four which sounds, well, very far from fantastic.
Despite the subdued soundtrack the engine is quick, smooth and delightfully flexible. The manual gearbox connects you to the car, and the whole package is a symphony of harmony and integration.
Porsche has switched to four cylinders for its middle-weight sportscar. While it's more than powerful enough in the 718 Cayman S, the engine note is a little disappointing
Compact and simple: The Cayman interior lacks theatre but the focused nature of the cabin lets you concentrate on how brilliant the car is to drive, especially on twisty routes
The mid-engine configuration works better for balance and handling than the front-engined Audi, and you’re left in no doubt that you are in a Porsche.
The only downside is that the cabin is a bit dour and doesn’t feel that special.
That isn’t an issue in the cabin of the Jaguar F-Type S Coupe, which feels and looks a gorgeous place to spend time.
You might well feel you have a right to expect this, given it’s the most expensive car here on list price by the better part of £10,000.
The Jaguar also feels bigger and heavier than the other two, which can make it slightly harder work to place accurately on the road.
But within those constraints Jaguar has done its usual fantastic job of making the handling as controlled and responsive as possible.
A thumping engine, lots of luxuries and looks to die for are just three reasons why the F-Type has been the coupe of choice since it arrived on the market
Inside, it feels premium and distinctly bigger than its two rivals. Orange contrast stitching probably isn't to all tastes
The steering is light but communicative, and the chassis can handle the full-on V8 experience and so is comfortably within its huge limits here.
The V6, being lighter than the V8, may be the better engine in some ways. It certainly has some thrust to it and the lighter weight helps with the handling.
The manual gearbox worked okay but wasn’t quite up to the rest of the engine. However, the noise is brilliant, and the styling is fabulous, highlighting what is as much a GT car as a sporting machine.
Overall we felt it just took the win here, against serious competition. The other two have presence, the F-Type has charisma.
In terms of driving involvement, the Porsche 718 Cayman wins it. But as an overall package, taking charisma into account, the Jaguar pips it as our favourite
It has character, the sort of thing that makes other people stop and smile. They don’t do that with the other two. And if you’re after the feelgood factor, then it’s the Jaguar you need.
Objectively you could argue that either of the others has it beaten in some areas, and that is true.
The Porsche is such a composed and coherent package that it’s definitely the best driver’s car here. Fast, thrilling and easily capable of being taken on a track day, it does deliver. From its four-cylinder engine.
Which leaves the Audi TT RS trailing in third, although not by far.
It’s lovely to look at, exciting to drive with a characterful and powerful engine, and it certainly is quick. But the other two outclass it.
So which car you decide to go for does depend a bit on what you’re looking for, and also just how much extra money you’re prepared to spend on all those optional extras. Happy box ticking.
AUDI TT RS VS PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN S VS JAGUAR F-TYPE S
AUDI TT RS
Engine: 2,480cc, 5-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed S-tronic dual-clutch, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 400@5,850-7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 354@1,700-5,850rpm
Top speed: 155mph (174mph optional)
Weight: 1,515kg (EU unladen)
MPG: 34.4 (NEDC combine)
Price as tested: £68,830
List price: £51,800
PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN S
Engine: 2,497cc, 4-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 350@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 310@1,900-4,500rpm
Top speed: 177mph
Weight: 1,430kg (unladen EC with driver)
Price as tested: £62,068
List price: £48,834
JAGUAR F-TYPE V6 S
Engine: 2,995cc, V6 supercharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear wheel drive
Power (hp): 380@6,500rpm
Torque(lb ft): 332@3,500-5,000rpm
Top Speed: 171mph
Weight: 1,584kg ('from' according to Jaguar figures)
MPG: 28.8 [NEDC combined]
Price as tested: £71,880
List price: £60,775
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