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Beautifully sweet to drive and something of a bargain in the Porsche range, the new Cayman GTS ticks all the right boxes for a sports car

What is it?

A new, slightly more potent version of the already rather wonderful Cayman S that will, for the time being at least, lord it at the top the Cayman range until more powerful, possibly turbocharged models appear in the reasonably distant future.

Priced at £55,397 and boasting an uprated 336bhp version of the 3.4-litre flat six that already serves the Cayman S so well, the GTS also gets Porsche’s PASM suspension system as standard alongside a set of tasty looking 20-inch alloy wheels and a small range of styling upgrades. And it goes on sale throughout the Porsche dealer network as of now, with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and the option of Porsche’s excellent but pricey seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Also on the options list will be carbon-ceramic brakes, as before, but what’s new to the line-up is a sports chassis option, which lowers the ride height by 20mm and does away with the electronic dampers for the ultimate 'analogue' Cayman driving experience. The sport chassis is a no-cost extra and can be specified in place of the PASM.

You also get the sports exhaust and Sports Chrono Package as standard on the GTS, whose kerb weight drops to a feather-light 1345kg, getting from 0-62mph in 4.9sec with the manual gearbox and 4.6sec with the optional PDK.

What's it like?

In a word, lovely, especially in the spec in which I drove the car on its launch – so with the sports chassis, optional carbon-ceramic brakes, sports seats and a six-speed manual gearbox.

There is a cohesion to the way this car goes down the road that is rare, if not unique in my experience. There are 911 fans who claim that the bigger car is still the better one to drive and that the Cayman remains its lieutenant, no matter what form it might take or how good it may be. But I am no longer one of these people. 

The Cayman GTS feels connected and compact and responsive to your inputs – be that to its throttle, steering, brake pedal or gearlever, which slices quite beautifully up and down its six-speed gate – in a way that a 911 no longer does. The last time a regular 911 felt this alive, this keyed in to the part of one’s brain that revels in the simple art of driving, was a very long time ago. 

Indeed, you need to look to some fairly special versions of the 911 to match the satisfaction that the GTS Cayman provides, to the second generation 996 GT3, perhaps, or the 997 GT3 RS, and more recently the current GT3. And this puts the Cayman GTS in very high company, and me right out on a limb among Porsche’s commentators, some of whom will take great offence at such heresy towards the sacred 911. 

But, for me, that’s how extraordinarily good the Cayman GTS, with sports chassis, manual gearbox, carbon-ceramic brakes and sports seats, feels. Which is some statement, but then the Cayman GTS really is some car.

Should I buy one?

It’s hard, if not impossible, to think of any other sporting car this side of £70,000 that is sweeter to drive than a Cayman GTS. Get the spec just right and you will get very close to motoring nirvana. Get it wrong and you’ll still end up with a very lovely sports car. 

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And at £55k it seems like a bargain next to just about all versions of the latest 911, none of which feel as compact or connected as a Cayman GTS. So I guess the answer is, yes, you should. With extra cheese and chilli sauce on top.

Porsche Cayman GTS

Price £55,397 0-62mph 4.6sec Top speed 177mph Economy 31.4mpg (combined) CO2 211g/km Kerb weight 1345kg, Engine 6 cyls horizontally opposed, 3436cc, petrol Installation Mid, longitudinal, rear-wheel drive Power 336bhp at 7400rpm; Torque 280lb ft at 6500rpm Gearbox 6-speed manual

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bowsersheepdog 10 May 2014

comparison website

the first two cars on my autocar e-mail this morning are the m4 and this cayman gts. out of curiosity i opened a tab for each and read them in tandem. for the same money the bmw is heavier, more powerful, has rear seats, is more accelerative and yet more economical with lower co2 emissions. quite an impressive stat victory for munich. i'm sure though that if i was in the market for a car in that range it would be a tough choice between them. if i had the money for a 911 turbo though the choice would be easier. i'd take the cayman gts and the sibling m3. not being an ex-racing driver the occasions where i may use the extra go that the turbo has over the other two would be very rare indeed.
Ofir 8 May 2014

Options unnecessary

I am not bothered by the cost of options because ultimately this would be a great car in basic form with a manual box. What is annoying is that they charge a considerable amount for what is not the best car it could be in terms of weight or power, mainly because of that 911 "ceiling". There will be an R version but even that will probably be very conservative. This car has all the ingredients to be better that the 911 but constraints which have nothing to do with the joy of driving keep it down.
DBtechnician 9 May 2014

It's not complicated

Porsche will not make it's Cayman better than the 911 because it could steal sales from its enormously profitable 911. That said this comes very close and represents a bargain for the Cayman fan. You can count me as one.
Matty_Hall 8 May 2014

You're talking £65k once

You're talking £65k once you've added the necessary options, and that is nearly-new R8 territory. I'm not even a massive fan of R8s, but at least you get a proper engine in that.