Porsche Cayman S or the Audi RS4, Comparison

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Porsche Cayman S or the Audi RS4, Comparison

Top Gear, 26 Jan 2006

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Porsche Cayman S and Audi RS4 comparison

Porsche Cayman S

Audi RS4

Porsche Cayman S or the Audi RS4, Comparison. The Porsche Cayman S is in the same ballpark as the Audi RS4 on price, but otherwise approaches the task of assaulting your senses

Two-wheel drive against four-wheel drive; two seats against four... Two landmark performance cars vie for for an award

Audi RS4, 49,980 sub-supercar, 4.2-litre V8, 414bhp at a peak of 7,800rpm and 317lb ft at 5,500rpm, with 90 per cent of that torque accessible all the way from 2,250rpm right through to 7,600rpm. Keep your right foot in and the brain-bruising propulsion won't let up until the 8,250rpm redline nears. In road cars, you just don't get V8s that rev so ferociously.

Zero to 62mph in the Audi RS4 passes in 4.8 seconds, 0-124mph comes just 11.8 seconds later, and a visit to the magistrates follows soon after. If you're bold enough, now flick a thumb against the button marked 'S' on the left-hand spoke of the Lamborghini Gallardo-spec steering wheel.

'S' also switches the throttle map to a mode so sharp in its responses that the slightest ankle twitch sends you charging precariously forwards, while the deeply ominous sound effects are boosted to a level that sends deer scattering from distant fields and knocks the final few autumn leaves from the trees, even at a tickover.

At 43,940, the Porsche Cayman S is in the same ballpark as the Audi RS4 on price, but otherwise approaches the task of assaulting your senses from an altogether different tangent. Try two seats, a hatchback and a 3.4-litre flat-six engine mounted for optimum poise, right at the middle.

If this is a power struggle then the Porsche Cayman S is already down on its luck and waiting to unfurl the white flag. There's 295bhp at 6,250rpm, accompanied by 251lb ft at 4,400rpm to play with.

That's up on the Porsch Boxster S that the Porsche Cayman S is largely based on, but just down on a regular 911; it's also a long way behind the figure boasted by the Audi RS4. 0-62mph is done with in 5.4 seconds, although the 171mph max speed tops the Audi RS4's artificially limited 155mph figure (said to actually be closer to 185mph with the Big Brother bits disconnected).

Where the Audi RS4 represents a kind of surreal collision of ultra-violence and practicality, the Porsche Cayman S is built for the simple, undiluted pursuit of driving entertainment.

The Porsche Cayman S's speed builds on you stealthily, especially after experiencing the full battering that the Audi RS4 unleashes on its driver. At first the valvegear whines away under the detachable, carpeted engine cover fixed immediately behind your ears, as if to protest at being treated too nervously.

Returning to the Porsche Cayman S's fresh-out-of-the-box set up, the messages feeding back to the driver are less outrageous and yet somehow more intimate than in the Audi RS4. This car sits visibly closer to the road surface, with a lower centre of gravity also built in.

Despite the use of aluminium to lighten the Audi RS4's front wings and bonnet, the Porsche still weighs in at 310kg less. That closes the power-to-weight gap too, with the Cayman S recording 220bhp per tonne next to the Audi RS4's figure of 251bhp per tonne

The Cayman claims greater balance, tighter poise. No detail of the car's behaviour is held back from the driver, however uncomfortable it may be to take in. As a result, you very quickly learn to trust it implicitly.

The information content is so clear that the rear-drive Cayman's potential is even more accessible than the quattro-equipped Audi RS4's. And its brakes are similarly astonishing in their effectiveness; strong under repeated hard stops, progressive in action and loaded with feel.

This all brings a dilemma. In a fight to the death, which do you need on your side? Overwhelming firepower or superior accuracy?

Read the complete article here:Top Gear



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