Dan Trent: Give that TT S a miss and buy a Scirocco R

14th August 2017
dan_trent_headshot.jpg Dan Trent

What’s wrong with the Audi TT S? Not much, truth be told. I’d have one over the RS in fact. That hasn’t stopped me attempting to talk a friend out of buying one, partly because I enjoy a ruck and partly because there are much more interesting cars you could have for the money. Like a manual Cayman. Or so I thought.


This would have seemed a no-brainer right? The new TT S came out in 2015, late model previous-gen cars from 2014 or so going for mid-20s with plenty to choose from in a variety of specifications. And shades of silver or grey. Against that, a beautifully balanced mid-engined junior Porsche would be just the job to prove my prejudices right! 

Damn you reality though. First problem? Caymans of a similar age are… rather more expensive. As in, twice as expensive. I confined my search to smaller-engined versions (2.7s and 2.9s) to weed out the much more costly S, GTS and R models. But a base Cayman of comparable 2014 vintage is still a £40K car. Seemingly I’ve priced myself out of this argument before it’s begun. 

More worryingly, of the 20 cars that appeared on my first page of search results just two were manuals. Two! What the hell is wrong with people? Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch gearbox is very good. But the Cayman’s six-speed manual is a lovely transmission, better even than the seven-speeder used in the current 911. For keen drivers, the pairing of a stubby, short-throw manual shifter and the balanced, inertia-free response of a small-capacity Porsche flat-six engine is truly joyous. But I’m not going to win over my Audi-loving friend with that, the revvy, naturally-aspirated engine’s peaky power delivery or wittering on about steering feel. And especially not at that price.

My money? I’ve already blathered on about the BMW M135i. I’ve also talked about the Toyota GT86 here before and that, to me, would be the perfect riposte, not to mention a useful few grand cheaper.


Oversteer might be more fun than understeer but I can’t see an Audi fan accepting the Toyota’s plasticky interior or lack of premium trimmings. Want a fast, reasonably-priced and stylish coupe with a quality interior that isn’t a TT? Keep it in the family and go for a VW Scirocco R I say!

These are much-underrated cars. I think they look fantastic, with much tauter proportions than the blobby second-generation TT. While just as sporty looking they’re also much more practical, with four proper seats and a decent boot. Best news? Although the power outputs are on a par (the Scirocco has a small advantage at 280hp against the Audi’s 272hp) the VW’s engine is a generation on from that used in the TT and is punchier, smoother and more economical. OK, it drives the front wheels and not all four like the Quattro-enhanced Audi and is a little slower off the line as a result. But once under way, Sciroccos feel more lively than the stubbornly nose-heavy TT and there’s an engaging feistiness about it you don’t get in the Audi. The R is well equipped too, the already stylish cabin getting all the toys while my chosen car – a 2016 model with just over 10,000 miles and up for £22,800 – also has the desirable part-leather, R-specific Recaro sports seats. But the best thing about it? The colour! All the things an Audiphile would like – nice interior, aspirational badge, understated performance – wrapped up in far more vibrant packaging? If I don’t win this particular argument I give up!  

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