ON TRACK

Evo - - ALPINE A110 v PORSCHE 718 CAY MANS v AUDI TT RS -

AUDI FIRST. THERE’S A feel­ing this might be the TT’S best shot at show­ing the oth­ers how it’s done. On the road it seems to have bound­less grip and trac­tion, and the in-line five feels the strongest en­gine here. And in­deed it feels pretty quick around the lap, punch­ing out of cor­ners on full throt­tle with very lit­tle un­der­steer.

Once the nose is hooked into a curve, the fat, low-pro­file Pirellis hang on tena­ciously – it’s ev­ery­thing you’d ex­pect of a com­pact and pow­er­ful four-wheel-drive coupe. There is a small amount of ad­justa­bil­ity into the fastest cor­ners that fin­ish the lap (O’rouge and Tower), so you can get on the power very early and ac­cel­er­ate flat-out all the way through. The clock stops at 1:25.2, which doesn’t seem to re­flect quite how it feels.

What a con­trast the Alpine is, again. It feels like it’s float­ing over the sur­face, and wring­ing out the in-line four, the A110 doesn’t feel any slower than the TT, but there’s a huge dif­fer­ence in how it tack­les the cor­ners. There’s so much more move­ment, so much more ob­vi­ous shift­ing of masses – and also a sense of so much less mass. Yes, it rolls mas­sively into the turns and sits back on its rear wheels when the throt­tle is snapped open, slic­ing through cor­ners with a much more ob­vi­ous bal­ance – but it feels ef­fec­tive.

Af­ter a cou­ple of fast laps its Miche­lins go off a lit­tle, mean­ing a light un­der­steer in the quick­est cor­ners and over­steer ev­ery­where else. But this isn’t an is­sue be­cause even when the Alpine kicks its tail out, you can use it to steer the car with sur­pris­ing

pre­ci­sion, partly be­cause the tail doesn’t keep on go­ing, thanks to low mass and in­er­tia. It’s more ex­ploit­ing its ad­justa­bil­ity than over-driv­ing it.

There was some fade of the TT’S brakes by the last fly­ing lap and the Alpine’s rum­ble a bit but keep on work­ing just as ef­fec­tively. And the read­out shows a best of… 1:24.8.

Can the Porsche do it? Hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced the Cayman on a wet race­track and mar­velled at its dis­dain for the con­di­tions, I wouldn’t bet against it. It’s

' The Cayman com­bines the TT'S solid grip with the A110' s agility… and nails the time on its sec­ond flyer'

dry to­day, and I’m slightly con­cerned early in the first fly­ing lap when the tail eases gen­er­ously out of line un­der power at the hair­pin, but a cou­ple more cor­ners fur­ther round, ev­ery­thing is hooked up. And then there’s no stop­ping it.

As on the road, it com­bines the TT’S solid grip with the A110’s agility… and nails the time on its sec­ond flyer – 1:23.2. That’s two sec­onds a lap faster than the TT, and 1.6sec faster than the Alpine. Fast and fun, job done. Though I won­der how much the £22,424 of op­tions con­trib­ute to this.

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