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Is the faster Cayman GTS the car to convince purists of a four-cylinder Porsche?

Our Verdict

Porsche 718 Cayman

Can the best sports coupé of the decade absorb a contentious new engine?

30 November 2017

What is it?

You’ll be familiar with the premise of Porsche’s GTS models by now: take any car in the range, add the options most buyers opt for anyway, tickle the power output and charge less for it than it would cost to add the options individually. Oh yes, and don’t forget some natty new wheels and black detailing.

Familiar it may be but the GTS models are consistently successful too, adding additional dynamism and performance to already potent vehicles. For this turbocharged Cayman power is up 15bhp to 361bhp, with torque now at 317lb ft thanks to a new turbo and intake system. Standard on the GTS that would be optional on the S are Porsche’s Sport Chrono Package, a mechanical limited-slip differential and PASM – Porsche’s adaptive damping system.

Note as well the 20-inch wheels and black accents outside, plus swathes of Alcantara inside. The Cayman doesn’t deviate from the GTS copy book then, but on previous experience there’s little reason to encourage that.

What's it like?

Over four laps of the Ascari Resort track, fairly damn good. Is it transformed from a standard 718 Cayman? No. Does it render a GT4 replacement redundant? No. Is it the greatest mid-engined sports car to ever grace this planet thanks to a standard sports exhaust? No.

Perhaps those points are obvious, although on occasion it seems a few get a little carried away with the talents of these tinkered Porsches. In all honesty it would take a back-to-back comparison with a regular 718 S to truly identify the differences; that wasn’t possible this time, so let’s run through what’s good and not so good about the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS.

It’s fast, certainly. Although the gains for this car are modest, all of the turbocharged 718s feel very punchy because of the torque increase; everything around you is familiar as a Cayman, except the way it’s pulling so hard from 2000rpm. That and the noise, of course, but we’ll deal with that. The point is that the GTS will satisfy all but the most ardent of speed freaks, is responsive to all inputs and is eager all the way to 7000rpm and beyond.

The best bit of this car however, and arguably of all Caymans, is the way it handles. It’s vice-free, mid-engined sports car nirvana. There are all the best bits of putting the engine directly behind the driver with seemingly none of the drawbacks. It’s a guilt-free bacon sandwich, a pub crawl without the hangover, paintballing that doesn’t leave you in agony.

So it’s agile and precise and direct, but not spiky if you misjudge anything. Lift mid-corner or brake at an inopportune moment – easily done on Ascari’s labyrinthine 26-corner layout – and the GTS doesn’t punish or rebuke; it’s far too assured for that. You may feel the mass move around, but it’s never intimidating.

And that’s when you get it wrong; get it right and the Cayman is superb, to a point that rivals such as the BMW M2, Audi TT RS and Jaguar F-Type could never hope to match. It’s impeccably damped, finely balanced and immensely rewarding, even when the instructor tells you off for trying a little too hard...

So what’s the problem? In all honesty it’s hard to detect much difference from the standard Cayman S, but the more pressing issue is the noise. Yes, still. Whatever has changed for the GTS sports exhaust has made the boxer drone more prominent, more audible and more annoying. In previous six-cylinder versions the sports exhaust button was permanently illuminated; here it’s never selected, and that seems rather a shame for a 180mph sports car.

Should I buy one?

You should consider investing in a GTS, because it’s still perhaps the best handling sports car this side of £100,000. The GTS probably doesn’t feel that different to an S because every version of the latter we’ve driven has had those desirable dynamic options fitted. Given the cost of those extras is covered in the price leap from S to GTS though, before you’ve even considered the power and styling upgrades, the GTS looks like very good value. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a single thing you’d want to add to the GTS package – bar some Porsche earplugs, perhaps.

Matt Bird

Porsche 718 Cayman GTS

Where Malaga, Spain On sale Now Price £59,866 Engine 4cyls, 2497cc, turbocharged petrol Power 361bhp at 6500rpm Torque 317lb ft at 1900-5500rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerbweight 1375kg Top speed 180mph 0-62mph 4.6sec Fuel economy 31.4mpg CO2/BIK 205g/km, 36% Rivals BMW M2, Jaguar F-Type 2.0-litre

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Comments
23

30 November 2017

One of my neighbours fired up his Evora S this evening. Even on high idle the V6 sounded wonderful, so good that I lingered at my front door despite the cold. Cars like the Cayman are not rational purchases. Not one needs one, but people want one. They want the experience and that includes the noise which in the Cayman's case means 6 cylinders.

1 December 2017

I had a Cayman about 10 years back, wonderful in the dry, downright scary in the wet. I’m not a numpty, raced karts a long time and never had any trouble catching a gearbox kart, but the Cayman on a damp road was frightening. 

1 December 2017

I've not driven this particular car in the wet, but all previous experience of similar cars would suggest there shouldn't be any problems. That is on new tyres, suspension and so on, of course.

 

 

Matt

1 December 2017

I've not driven this particular car in the wet, but all previous experience of similar cars would suggest there shouldn't be any problems. That is on new tyres, suspension and so on, of course.

 

 

Matt

1 December 2017

Isn’t the Cayman just a 911 with a four cylinder Engine..?, from the photos it looks just like a 911.

Peter Cavellini.

1 December 2017

Now I maybe very wrong here, but, did Porsche add 4 cylinder engines to its 'lesser' cars to create a clearer gap between them and its 'better' cars? After all, why would you buy a 911 or whatever its called now, if you could have a Cayman with a 6 cylinder engine which is half the price but nearly equal?.. If six cylinders are still available further up the range, why not lower down the range...cant be just down to performance, weight and emissions....Just an observation, cynical as it may be...

1 December 2017

I can't say I've been wholly convinced by Porsche's reasons to stick 4-cylinder engines in the Boxster/Cayman. Apart from more torque 'per capacity' the engines are heavier, less responsive and I don't think they're any cleaner than the previous 6-cylinder motors. I can only assume, as some others have suggested, that Porsche wanted to create a gap between the Boxster/Cayman and the lower 911s especially as the former are a sweeter drive too. But then all Porsche needed to do is rejig the 911 range and, for example, up the power of the lower Carrera and Carrera S models and the price to go with it too.

1 December 2017

I can't say I've been wholly convinced by Porsche's reasons to stick 4-cylinder engines in the Boxster/Cayman. Apart from more torque 'per capacity' the engines are heavier, less responsive and I don't think they're any cleaner than the previous 6-cylinder motors. I can only assume, as some others have suggested, that Porsche wanted to create a gap between the Boxster/Cayman and the lower 911s especially as the former are a sweeter drive too. But then all Porsche needed to do is rejig the 911 range and, for example, up the power of the lower Carrera and Carrera S models and the price to go with it too.

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