RE: Porsche 718 Cayman T vs. Alpine A110

RE: Porsche 718 Cayman T vs. Alpine A110

Monday 29th July

Porsche 718 Cayman T vs. Alpine A110

The Alpine's honeymoon period is over and the Cayman is back, leaner and meaner - round two!



Before skipping to the end for the verdict understand this much - both of these cars are brilliant, not least for their counter argument to the oversized footprints, excess weight and meaningless performance stats found in most rivals. That each also has a significant, click-bait friendly 'flaw' only makes the comparison more interesting.

To wit, yes, the Porsche has a four-cylinder engine when it once had a six. No, you can't buy an Alpine with a manual gearbox. Rage against this as much as you like but there are perfectly reasonable explanations for both. We've been over them. Still not buying it? Allow me to direct you to the 981 Cayman and Lotus Elise/Exige sections of the classifieds.

Still reading? Then you're probably aware these two have met before, the Alpine scraping it by the narrowest of margins. As that novelty factor fades it now faces tougher scrutiny though, and more intense competition in the form of a sharper, more focused Cayman T. Is the Alpine the game changer we hoped it could be? Or is Porsche about to reassert its authority? Demand for Cayman T press bookings is such the Alpine gets a three-day head-start worming its way into my affections. And makes good use of it.


With all 1,955 Premiere Editions now sold production has switched to the regular Pure and Legende options, this white press car the former with the racier Sabelt buckets and ostensibly more focused vibe. Power-adjustable seats and 18-inch wheels are the main differences for the Legende, bringing with them a marginal weight increase and subtle shift in character. For me Pure seems to fit the Alpine vibe more and loses little in refinement or usability, assuming you like the seats. Which I do.

Much has been written about the Alpine's deft handling and lack of weight. Equally impressive is the way these virtues count towards its comfort, refinement and usability, the A110 as light as a Lotus but as everyday viable as an Audi TT.

The benefits are everywhere. Because it puts less rubber to the road (the rears are the same width as the fronts on the Porsche) it's quiet on the motorway while soft springs mean it glides over lumps and bumps. It'll cruise at motorway speeds showing 40mpg-plus and, if not exactly stacked with toys, it has what you need and doesn't demand the hairshirt compromises of an Elise or 4C in return for thrills when the roads get more interesting.


When they do you'll want to hit D again for manual control of the gears and perhaps the Sport button on the wheel to sharpen response to the paddles. But the Alpine's simplicity is one of its most refreshing qualities, the fundamental set-up so sorted it doesn't need an electronic smokescreen of modes or configurability to adapt to different moods or driving conditions. That simply comes from how far you extend your right foot, the piped in engine noise offering a reasonable simulation of an old Berlinette sucking through Webers as you start pressing on.

Lean angles that tuck the wheels deep into the arches feel totally natural from the driver's seat, the linear response of the chassis to inputs and the way you can feel the weight shifting around all four corners of the car making it involving at speeds both sedate and spirited. The contrast with accepted industry norms is stark, the Alpine moving around on its springs and tread blocks without ever feeling like it's going to let go or catch you unawares. Brake hard into a downhill corner and it'll dive enough to unweight the rear tyres, at which point the rearward weight bias becomes apparent. But at fast road pace it doesn't intrude too much and if you adopt a more flowing style you're rewarded in kind.

By the time the Porsche arrives on the scene it's got some catching up to do. Miami Blue paint against grey Carrera S wheels and the purposeful stance are a strong start. And, yes, between the seats there's a manual shifter. Yum. As tested the car you see here is £57,904 against the Alpine's £53,553, a good chunk of the additional cost accounted for by the paint and slightly baffling twists on interior upgrade packages. Key additions for the T over the standard 718 include PASM sport, PTV mechanical locking diff/torque vectoring, the 20-inch wheels and inevitable fabric door pulls and smaller GT steering wheel. The chassis bits were previously reserved for the S and not available on the standard 718; I could bore you with the configurator number crunching but, at least mechanically, the T looks like a 'correct' spec for a 718. So to the engine...


For all the moaning it's worth remembering this is two-thirds of a 911's motor and therefore rather more exotic than the adapted Megane engine in the Alpine. That counts for more than just engineering snobbery too, the Alpine's soft limiter calling time at 6,500rpm where the Porsche is reaching a crescendo with a further 1,000rpm in hand. Is this enough to atone for the fact the Cayman is carrying at least another 250kg over the Alpine? Or that Porsche thinks 10J rear wheels on a 300hp car are really necessary?

Ominously it looks like it might be. We all know Porsches are sensitive to minor spec changes but the 718 T is one of those first corner cars, feeling utterly dialled from the first moment you turn the wheel.

With all that extra weight and rubber the steering is a tad numb compared with the Alpine. And the mindset of the chassis set-up is totally different, nailing the Cayman into road surfaces the A110 is happy flowing over. Goddamn, the T feels good though. Sure, it's not a (trigger warning) GT4 on the cheap. But, helped by the manual gearbox, there's a sense of that car's raw, mechanical honesty and, like the 911 T, the tweaks are enough to dial out some of the mush in standard versions. In everything from pedal response to the way the diff hooks up and slingshots you out of the turns this car just feels proper, no matter its supposed junior billing in the Porsche hierarchy.


Haters gonna hate but I really like the engine, too. There's a real sense of turbocharged rush as the revs build but the reaction to the throttle pedal is so precise you can rev-match like a naturally-aspirated motor. This is not your average, modern-day forced induction slugger, hauling from its boosted mid-range into an angrier, revvier top end if you're willing to hold the gears. The manual helps here, the shift action positive, the positioning and response of the pedals perfectly harmonised and the whole interactive joy of choosing a ratio, holding it and then picking the moment to shift adding a level of involvement the Alpine can't quite match.

You feel the extra weight though, compounded by tall gearing and a sense it's carrying a little more tyre than it really needs. Without the afterburner mid-range you get in the 2.5-litre S and GTS versions it can, at times, just feel a little flat too. Neither car is a straight-line hero but with less weight and an extra ratio it's easier to keep the Alpine on the boil, raising the question of whether the seven-speed PDK would be a better comparison here. Possibly so objectively. But speaking subjectively the manual is a significant point in the Porsche's favour. The fact 85 out of 93 718 Caymans currently in the dealer network are PDK suggests this will be of limited relevance to all but an impassioned minority, though.

But that's us, right? And without the option of a Bandersnatch style choose your own ending I'm going to have to call it, the question being does the Alpine have enough about it to tease me out of a manual Cayman in a colour and spec appealing right to my tastes? Weirdly the answer comes not through the dynamic behaviour on hard-driven B-roads where, hand on heart, I enjoy the 718 T more. But on the long haul home, the M1 bathed in golden early evening sunshine as the miles tick by. After a long day a four-hour schlepp up a motorway in a lightweight sports car like this shouldn't be a thing of joy. The fact that it still is demonstrates substance beyond 'not a Porsche' novelty. The 718 T narrows the margin of victory to the merest sliver. But I'm glad to be driving the Alpine home.


SPECIFICATION - ALPINE A110 PURE
Engine: 1,798cc 4-cyl, turbocharged
Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 252hp@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 236lb ft@2,000-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 4.5sec
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,098kg ('minimum')
MPG: 46 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 144g/km
Price: £46,905 before options (£53,553 as tested, comprising Iridescent White paint £1,656; aluminium passenger foot rest £90; blue Alpine logo on steering wheel £78; lightweight Focal audio system £552; 18-inch Sérac wheels £936; uprated brakes £936; cargo net/storage case behind driver £468; Alpine Telemetrics £192; blue Alpine callipers £360; sports exhaust with active valve £1,380)

Inspired? Search for an Alpine A110 here

SPECIFICATION - PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN T
Engine: 1,988cc 4-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive (optional seven speed PDK dual-clutch auto)
Power (hp): 300@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280lb ft@2,150-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 5.3sec (PDK 4.9sec, 4.7sec with Sport Chrono)
Top speed: 170mph
Weight: 1,425kg (PDK 1,455kg, both EU with driver)
MPG: 32.5 (WLTP combined)
CO2: 186g/km (PDK 180g/km)
Price: £51,145 before options (£57,904 as tested comprising Miami Blue paint £1,658; black leather interior with 718 T interior package £1,242; 64-litre fuel tank £84; dimming mirrors/rain sensor £345; cruise control £228; ParkAssist front and rear £623; Interior Package 718 T £1,809; ISOFIX for passenger seat £126; 'Sports-look' pedals and footrest £126; leather interior package £518; Porsche Communication Management with phone prep and Sound Package Plus £0)

Inspired? Search for a Porsche Cayman here



























Pics: Chris Teagles

 

Author
Discussion

cerb4.5lee

Original Poster:

12,175 posts

124 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
I wouldn't say no to either of them, both lovely motors. I am a broken record but I do wish that the Alpine was offered with a manual gearbox, but I think I need to drive one to see if it actually really needs one though.

Venisonpie

393 posts

26 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
As a former Cayman and current Lotus owner I'm a subscriber to less is more for having fun at sensible road speeds. That the Alpine has again seen off a heavy Porsche and is more refined is encouraging for a possible future purchase.

CedricN

462 posts

89 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
Ive alwyas wished the cayman/boxster were alpine sized, to separate it more from its overly large and fat big brother. Great work from alpine on the first try!

How much more is the alpine S?

cerb4.5lee

Original Poster:

12,175 posts

124 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
Venisonpie said:
That the Alpine has again seen off a heavy Porsche and is more refined is encouraging for a possible future purchase.
350kg is a hefty difference in weight between the two cars for sure. At that weight it pretty much moves the Cayman into almost the GT car territory for me.

I respect Alpine so much for offering such a light sports car in todays climate where performance cars are mostly fat. I used to think that the Cayman/Boxster weren't that heavy...until the Alpine came along.

WCZ

6,850 posts

138 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
The T range is such a joke, this one is only 5grams lighter than a standard car yet they market it as lightweight and hardcore

sideways man

683 posts

81 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
Alpine for me. If all my sums add up to what I hope, looking to get one in a few years. I wonder what long term reliability is on these, it is a lightweight french car after all...

andrewparker

3,693 posts

131 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
Would be the Porsche for me, manual and probably in Racing Yellow. No matter how much I try I just can’t get my head around the looks of the Alpine. I know that shouldn’t matter, but it does.

SFO

4,683 posts

127 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
184hp MX5 is similar weight to A110 at half the price, albeit less powerful but just as fun if not more so.

scoobyc

505 posts

175 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
So would a lightly used manual GTS at mid 50's close this gap or even remove it.....

Venisonpie

393 posts

26 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
scoobyc said:
So would a lightly used manual GTS at mid 50's close this gap or even remove it.....
In 981 form it would certainly bring something the Alpine can't answer..

big_rob_sydney

2,357 posts

138 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
Another victory for the lightweight brigade, and I love it.

I don't really care which make or model of car follows this formula, but I know Lotus are big on this, and have a great reputation for cars that handle extremely well.

scoobyc

505 posts

175 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
Venisonpie said:
In 981 form it would certainly bring something the Alpine can't answer..
I meant a 718... tongue out

But it was a serious question probably more to Dan. I get your point but then you're looking at the minimum of a 3 year old car and that's a whole new game imho.

Edited by scoobyc on Saturday 27th July 13:06

Miserablegit

667 posts

53 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
WCZ said:
The T range is such a joke, this one is only 5grams lighter than a standard car yet they market it as lightweight and hardcore
+1
The Alpine can see off an S so testing it against the “T” is odd. Not sure the T, at 10kg lighter ( if you remove the stereo option if I recall ) makes much of a difference.

Was surprised to read :
The manual helps here, the shift action positive, the positioning and response of the pedals perfectly harmonised and the whole interactive joy of choosing a ratio, holding it and then picking the moment to shift adding a level of involvement the Alpine can't quite match.

You feel the extra weight though, compounded by tall gearing and a sense it's carrying a little more tyre than it really needs. Without the afterburner mid-range you get in the 2.5-litre S and GTS versions it can, at times, just feel a little flat too. “
Alpine driven in Manual will hold gears - you’ll be in 6 before the T hits third...
I know it’s not all about speed but these things are sportscars- the Alpine really does give a wallop of acceleration that isn’t matched in anything by Porsche below a cayman / boxster S. To suggest the T is anywhere near is horse...
The T is effectively a cut-price options package and that is all

Riverside Red

866 posts

79 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
Shock result, Dan really likes the flat 4 in the 718, in the minority there.

Perhaps Porsche should have stuck it in the Boxster Spyder and GT4 after all.....

RR

Riverside Red

866 posts

79 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
If they did an Alpine roadster based on this car, I'd be first in the queue too....

RR

je777

302 posts

48 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
300kg.
That's a massive difference.
The Alpine thus justifies the reason for a 4 cylinder engine. The Porsche doesn't.
Although as the article suggests, I'd be going 981 or Elise/Exige if it came down to it.
Progress...

130R

5,985 posts

150 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
Nope, still don't like the way the Alpine looks.

rockin

6,717 posts

189 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
je777 said:
300kg.
That's a massive difference.
Make sure you're comparing like with like. There's probably at least 100kg discrepancy in those quoted figures,

Weight Alpine: 1,098kg ('minimum')
Weight Cayman: 1,425kg (EU with driver)

EU measurement adds 75kg just for the driver, then you get into questions like whether the Alpine's fuel tank is bone dry (Cayman's is 90% full) and even whether there's any oil in the sump, water in the radiator etc. It all adds up.

cerb4.5lee

Original Poster:

12,175 posts

124 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
rockin said:
je777 said:
300kg.
That's a massive difference.
Make sure you're comparing like with like. There's probably at least 100kg discrepancy in those quoted figures,

Weight Alpine: 1,098kg ('minimum')
Weight Cayman: 1,425kg (EU with driver)

EU measurement adds 75kg just for the driver, then you get into questions like whether the Alpine's fuel tank is bone dry (Cayman's is 90% full) and even whether there's any oil in the sump, water in the radiator etc. It all adds up.
I think that there will still be about 250kg between them. The Alpine is a bit of a freak with how light it is though. I think that the Porsche should be a bit lighter given it also only has a 4 cylinder engine in it though.

Miserablegit

667 posts

53 months

Saturday 27th July
quotequote all
rockin said:
Make sure you're comparing like with like. There's probably at least 100kg discrepancy in those quoted figures,

Weight Alpine: 1,098kg ('minimum')
Weight Cayman: 1,425kg (EU with driver)

EU measurement adds 75kg just for the driver, then you get into questions like whether the Alpine's fuel tank is bone dry (Cayman's is 90% full) and even whether there's any oil in the sump, water in the radiator etc. It all adds up.
Nope - the official Alpine figures are heavier than actually tested by reviewers. Porsche has traditionally fudged figures for tests by quoting almost a bare chassis before the £25k of options is normally added.
This is a Pure chassis with the lightweight seats and is pretty much the same spec as a PE so the 1098 is probably spot on.