► Used cars vs new cars
► Porsche 911 now in reach
► £42k 911 or £40k Audi TTS?
Most Audi TT drivers dream of owning a Porsche 911, but find themselves £43k short when new. Throw a used 911 into the equation and things get much more achievable. So today we’re pitching the top-spec TTS against the 911 C4S. Both have over 300bhp, use all-wheel drive to hit 62mph in under five seconds and offer 2+2 seating to give families a get-out-of-jail-free card. A 911 for the price of a TT? If it sounds like a no-brainer, there’s plenty to recommend the Audi.
The third-generation TT is a much better drive than its predecessors, diving into corners like a US Marine tackling a heavily armed Moroccan, and offering both involvement and Superglue traction thanks to fast-acting Haldex all-wheel drive.
Audi’s old 3.2-litre VR6 might seem a preferable flat-six substitute, but the new turbo four puts less weight in the nose for better acceleration and sharper handling, improves mpg and sounds better than the same unit in CAR’s Golf R. Pair it with the DSG gearbox and you’ll cover ground like you’re riding a travellator. Only the low-speed fidget on our car’s 20-inch rims disappoints.
Inside, Virtual Cockpit tops off one of the most seductive of all interiors. It’s a TFT screen that puts the sat-nav in the instrument binnacle and allows you to configure the dials to suit. For the iPhone generation, it brings an appeal the 911 can’t counter.
Porsche 911 997 Carrera 4S
The 997-generation 911 C4S starts below £30k for a 2005-2008 car showing 50k miles, but that’s quite a leap for a new buyer accustomed to three-year deals. Instead, it’s the 2008-2012 ‘997.2’ that lands firmly in TTS territory, updating the 997 with direct-injection, revised suspension, freshened sat-nav, optional PDK gearbox and more.
They’re yours from around £40k, but we’re testing a 2009 model from specialists Paragon (01825 830424). It’s done 27,000 miles, offers sat-nav, adaptive dampers and sports exhaust, and was up at £47,995 – comparable to our £46.5k-with-options TTS – but has since sold.
The 911’s low-set driving position is perfect, the cabin architecture timelessly appealing, and the double-stitched leather shrugs off wear-and-tear. The sat-nav has aged, but it’s still perfectly serviceable.
And those looks: doe-eyed headlights, slinky glasshouse, the way the rear screen plunges to emphasise this wider Carrera body’s arch cleavage; it’s almost indecent.
At the wheel you notice the extra steering weight when you turn and accelerate thanks to the front driveshafts, a ride that’s more mature than the TT’s, and the 997.2 is also characterised by an improved composure over bumpy back roads. The soundtrack dominates: all breathy rasps at low rpms, and the blur of noise and speed as you wind to 7200rpm is like being strapped to a Catherine Wheel.
The stubby manual gearlever is slick and light, if ever so slightly baggy, but I like the interaction of meaty clutch, crisp throttle and reassuring brake pedal. I wouldn’t swap it for the PDK with those confusing paddles they used to fit until we all complained.
Does a 911 need all-wheel drive? Not in the dry, but if a regular Carrera’s rear-engined, rear-drive dynamics have you quivering, the C4S is an ideal gateway-drug to the most enduring sports car of all time.
Servicing & running costs
Porsche 911 servicing is based on two-year/20k intervals, alternating between minor (oil/filter swap, pollen filter, £396 at Paragon) and major services (minor, plus air filter, remove rear wheels and discs to clean, adjust handbrake, from £528). Buying through Paragon or the Porsche Approved Used Scheme ensures upcoming services are performed prior to purchase.
The poly belt that drives ancillaries is checked at the four-year service, replaced for £138 at six. Paragon quotes £599 for front discs, pads and replacing the brake fluid, £597 for the rears.
Audi offers both fixed and flexible TTS servicing. Fixed servicing is suitable for harder use, short city trips and sub-10k annual mileages. You’ll get an oil-change service every 9000 miles or annually (circa £140), an inspection service every 19,000 miles or two-yearly (circa £145). Flexible servicing extends the intervals up to 19,000 miles/two years. Or try the three-year/30k miles service package. It starts from £16.50 monthly (service costs only), rising to £43.60 (servicing, maintenance, tyres).
Based on a 40-year-old with a speed-camera spidey sense, Adrian Flux Insurance quotes £300 (£250 excess) for the TTS, £344.50 (£500 excess) the 911.
Paragon have experienced the piston bore-score issues that are often cited with 997s, but stress this has been restricted to the 997.1, not the 997.2. And what of the sudden intermediate-shaft bearing failure that gives owners sleepless nights? Never seen it on a 997.1, they say, and 997.2s don’t have one.
Exhaust-flange bolts account for most unscheduled visits – you’ll pay £180 for the parts and 1.5 hours’ labour to remedy. A word of warning, however: the air-con condensers and radiators will rot if you don’t clear the leaf-mulch that accumulates in the front bumper intakes. You’ll pay around £270 plus fitting for each a/c condenser, £252 for radiators.
Clonky top mounts and lower arms are giveaways for worn suspension, and look for lipped brake discs and heavy brake-dust deposits in the cross-drilled brakes, a sign that a potential purchase has been given the spanking the chassis clearly deserves.
The TTS comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, but can be upgraded to four years/75,000 miles for £385, or five years, 90,000 miles for £905.
Popular 911 options included the PDK dual-clutch transmission (£2338 at the time), top-spec PCM sat-nav (£1284), sunroof (£846), Bose sounds (£768), metallic paint (£602), 19-inch alloys (£555), sports seats (£306), universal audio connection (£222) and heated seats (£269). The Sport Chrono Package Plus (£1259) tweaks throttle response, stability-control intervention and the adjustable shocks, and brings more aggressive PDK mapping. Spot it by the stopwatch on the dash.
Desirable TT options include 20-inch rims (£850), Bang & Olufsen stereo (£895), cruise control (£295), reversing camera (£450), electric front seats (£995), LED headlights (£945), heated, folding mirrors (£215). Solid paint finishes are no-cost, but all metallic and pearls are £550. Nappa leather and Virtual Cockpit is standard, but you can upgrade to MMI Navigation Plus with 3D map display, 10GB music storage, voice control, wi-fi hotspot and internet connection at £1795.
For arguably the first time in three generations, the Audi TT – fast, poised, involving too – is a proper sports car. And if you prize cutting-edge design and technology, the kudos of a 15-plate, and a fixed-cost three-year deal, it’s the choice for you.
But I’d buy the 911. It offers a significantly more exotic driving experience, all topped off by one of the most charismatic, exciting engines ever created. Perhaps the best thing about Stuttgart’s icon is its ease of use: you want to take a 911 to the shops as much as the track. The fact that it’s likely to hold its value far better than the TT just seals the deal.
Porsche vs Audi: the numbers
Porsche 911 C4S (997.2)
Price: £42,000 (2009, 35,000 miles)
Engine: 3800cc 24v flat-six, 379bhp @ 6500rpm, 310lb ft @ 4400rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive
Performance: 4.7sec 0-62mph, 185mph, 26mpg, 247g/km CO2
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Weight/made from: 1555kg/steel
On sale: 2008-2012
Engine: 1984cc 16v turbo four-cylinder, 306bhp @ 5800rpm, 280lb ft @ 1800rpm
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch auto, all-wheel drive
Performance: 4.6sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 40.9mpg, 159g/km CO2
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Weight/made from: 1385kg/steel
On sale: Now
My Audi TTS
‘I love the TT’s menacing design, but the interior was the deal-maker for me: the way the minimalist lines combine with Virtual Cockpit is second to none. To the high standard spec I added the technology pack, comfort and sound pack, cruise control and privacy glass. I’d like to tune the car in future, but for now I don’t want to lose the warranty safety net. I opted out of most of Audi’s after-sales packages; the car will be serviced by a specialist, the paint protected by a professional detailer. Already looking forward to the Wothersee show next year!’
My Porsche 911 C4S (997)
‘Having recently sold my classic 930 Supersport, I was seeking a nice C4S or Turbo 997. I bought a 997.1 C4S from my local Porsche dealer and was instantly impressed: low miles (42k), fully loaded with £25k of extras and it looked great in Guards Red with full factory Aerokit. The Turbo body really accentuates the 911 look, and the sports exhaust adds to the sporty sound. I cover around 3000 miles a year and I’m averaging 26-28mpg.’