The Porsche Cayman is a sports car in search of a missing Autocar road test half star.
Throughout the life cycle of the current 718 Cayman’s two predecessors, the original 987 generation and the succeeding 981 were hailed as outstanding five-star affordable sports car class champions on these pages. Their dominance was utterly complete and largely unchallenged and even encompassed two outright wins in our annual Britain’s Best Driver’s Car supertest.
But since this 982-generation version came along two years ago, with its choice of slightly unlovely boxer four-pot turbocharged engines, something has been missing. Enough that, when we road tested the 2.5-litre 718 Cayman S in 2016, the enthusiasm of our recommendation was checked by that crucial half star.
So is now the time for the Cayman to reclaim its old status? Step forward the subject of road test number 5370: the new top-of-the-range 718 Cayman GTS.
This is the second Cayman to get a GTS derivative, but if you’re a little unsure of exactly what that badge means and where this car will ultimately rank in the hierarchy of high-performance Caymans, think of it this way: Porsche intends its GTS derivatives to be cars of enhanced performance and handling precision, but delivered in a style suited to everyday road use.
It also distinguishes them with a generous standard equipment level and with some unique design and material touches to broaden their appeal. And so the long and short of it is that this won’t be the ‘ultimate’ hot Cayman of the current crop: another GT4- or R-badged range-topper will come along eventually with even more power, grip and track-ready purpose.
Porsche’s history with the GTS nameplate runs back to a version of the 904 from 1963 and includes versions of the 924 and 928 coupés of the 1980s and 1990s. The derivative was revived, defined in its current ‘high performance meets high style’ philosophy, on a Cayenne in 2007 and then on a version of the ‘997’-generation 911 three years later.