4, 5 or 6 cylinders for a sporty roadster? Only Audi still offers five cylinders, in TT RS Roadster guise. The Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 is now the exception with six cylinders. Four cylinders are rather the norm – in the Porsche 718 Boxster S at least, in the rare boxer style. FIRST COMPARISON TEST via auto-motor-und-sport.de.
The Audi TT RS Roadster or the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43? Both are very attractive in their own way. This is also true for the Porsche 718 Boxster S, whose mid-engine-like proportions are and remain a sports car synonym. At the same time, the four-cylinder boxer hangs deep and close to the center of the car and remains invisible to the buyer. Only the mechanic can see the engine.
But, when you hear the turbo boxer, it does not sound like a fine-balanced sewing machine. Anyone who has learned over decades to determine the uniformity of an engine over the acoustics may be a bit afraid. The four-cylinder sounds unbalanced, because the opposing pistons equalize mass forces. There is also an optional – sports exhaust.
You have to listen to the SLC 43 twice. And … it can never be quite sure whether it is or not a six-cylinder cylinder. The engine note is so muted that it can easily be assumed that no two V-shaped three-cylinder units are behind the bonnet. The AMG does not want to sound like a bass vacuum cleaner – a description that normally applies to V6 turbos. To put it in a nutshell: The whole thing sounds like a BMW, and that is probably the greatest praise for a V6 motor.
Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 – fast and cultured
When audible, the 43 has a very musical engine. It sounds stimulating, but is not indiscreet even with the exhaust flaps open. Why do we devote so many lines to the sound? Because it means so much when driving. Firstly, we are testing sports cars, where acoustic expressions of life are self-explanatory. They could even be called potency proof. Electric car athletes will have to think of something at this point. And secondly, these sports cars are open, which gives the sound an even higher priority – as a source of emotions, it becomes part of the driving fun. A rich sound is equal to the brain with pulling power.
A six-cylinder shows partial load after a fat torque delivery – and also feels so. A bass-torn four-cylinder, on the other hand, could be denied the pleasure. Just because he sounds so hard.
The turbo club
AMG plays its weight advantage of 189 kilograms merciless, only the TT RS is better. The TT is all-wheel-driven and launch-controlled from the starting block and burns the best times in the asphalt. In 3.9 seconds from 0 to 100 km / h. And the engine sounds like a thunderstorm. The five-cylinder was called the V8 of the poor man; today the TT RS would be the Huracán of the humble man because it actually imitates the timbre of a Lamborghini.
With exhaust flap opened also its volume as well as the misfiring firecrackers when changing gear under load are present. This would not have been necessary, for his peculiarity is revealed by the sound, not by the volume. Its start-up weakness is well covered by the double-clutch gearbox. The engine hardly reacts at first, then retrieves the missed time with the turbo boost. So you have to swing between the gears in time before the apex.
Audi TT RS Roadster – finally a sports car
Unlike in the past, the TT is not artificially agilized, at least in the RS variant. The rear axle of the Quattro drive now receives a rich portion of the torque and makes a powerful impact into the corners. Audi Sport GmbH, which is responsible for the RS models in Neckarsulm, achieved precisely that: a refreshing neutrality.
By the way, the steering is also getting better and is now talking to the driver. This is essential for a sports car, in order to trust the fast-drive. And the TT RS practically marshals with its driver. The ride has a lot to tell about the front wheels. The Audi with the optional Adaptive Suspension (1,100 Euro) is still a bit stiff, on wavy country road is quite in party mood. It heats up with increasing speed – typical sports gear.
Smooth, the SLC shows. It is the restrained cruiser that best suits his passengers: with a swallow-like suspension, the best insulated steel roof and, when opened, with the optional neck dryer, which imitates a warm summer wind (as in the Audi). In the Mercedes, the carnival comes through, which is characterized by an automobile of the upper class. Only, there is some AMG in it.
Mercedes or Porsche – the question of character
We can still remember the test ride in the C 43 – the same engine in the bigger car. And yet the limousine seemed more conspicuous. Especially in curves, where the SLC rather draws wide arcs. If it is required to attack, the two turbochargers inflate their jaws. But the suspension locks itself at a higher pace – it pumps and struggles every single ground wave, instead of going over block by block.
For the travel comfort is just great, for driving safety as well. In the sense of the fun, however, this setting pleases less, because the experience value is somewhat short. The Mercedes-AMG is simply casual fast. Not enough to go as a sports car.
A real sports car, however, is the Porsche – thanks to its technical layout with the engine in front of the rear axle. This means maximum rotation and minimal mass inertia – the king’s class of driving dynamics. And as a proof, he rams his flag into the asphalt of the test track. Here and now, the Boxster S does not miss either the slalom or the fast dodge. To the high tempo, he remains stoic and stable, follows the guidance of the steering conscientiously, dissects the pylon lane as with the laser cutter. And when braking, he stiffens his heels in the asphalt. A precision tool made in Germany.
The 718 chassis practically masters every challenge before it, repels disturbances, sucks ground waves, resulting in an amazingly good suspension comfort. It is also surprising that the Boxster S is the most efficient car to handle. He barely loses two cylinders and wins a number in the name, even collects points in the environmental chapter. The inconspicuous, effective net between the headrests blocks turbulence, but leaves the summer fresh. The headrest blows the heat out and provides pleasant driving wind as natural air conditioning.
This also applies to the two competitors. All three master the sensory driving without a windstorm, with their high-pitched side lines and the strongly angled front windshield far from the basic idea of a roadster. The Mercedes offers the best protection against weather and wind gusts with its sheet metal folding roof. How the brand already satisfies a strong safety need – with all assistance systems. They are able to overcome the weaknesses during braking as well as the slightly louder driving dynamics and the restrained handling.
Many cylinders for money
Thus, almost a point equilibrium is found in the property evaluation, pros and cons are largely the same. Only the costs ensure a clear order in this comparison test. The Boxster comes with adaptive shock absorbers, rear axle lock, ceramic brakes, Sport Chrono package (for the faster sprint), 20-inch wheels and the Sport Seats Plus. With an added price of just under € 87,000 as well as the worst standard equipment and the most expensive options, the 718 ranks third.
Audi is providing the well-equipped TT RS with 20-inch wheels, adaptive sports suspension, raises the top speed to 280 km / h as well as electric seat adjustment – and makes the already self-confident sports convertible more expensive to 73,700 euros. Gets second place.
So the Mercedes-AMG wins as the cheapest in the round. Despite the highest fixed costs (for five years), he is the most customer-friendly. The test car is only worth mentioning the so-called handling package including locking differential as well as the three-stage adjustable shock absorbers and will ultimately be the best offer: most cylinders with the highest torque for the least money.
There is still the answer to the question in the headline: “4, 5 or 6 cylinders?” Here is a personal advice: More is more in this case, take six cylinders. After all, you do not know how long such gourmet engines will still be around.
1. Mercedes-AMG SLC 43
The most comprehensive safety equipment, the best comfort and the lowest costs ensure victory. Very reserved: the agility.
2. Audi TT RS Roadster
TT stays close to the Porsche, accelerates him on the straights, offers a lot of drama and involves the driver the strongest.
3. Porsche 718 Boxster S
The 718 sets the standard for driving dynamics, still plays its part in the property rating, but ultimately loses its high price.