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Car reviews - Porsche - Cayman - GTS

Our Opinion

We like
Superb performance, epic and supercar-beating handling, compliant ride, great steering, superb quality, great ergonomics, surprising practicality
Room for improvement
Too expensive relative to both 718 Cayman and old Cayman GT4, too many options, engine lacks aural appeal

Does the latest Porsche 718 Cayman GTS still blend grand touring with sportiness?

Porsche logo5 Oct 2018

Overview
 
EVERYONE has their own signature, a natural flick of the wrist and sweep of ink that can be instantly recognisable but tough to copy. The same has long been true of three particular little letters that, in this case, end the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS nameplate.
 
Whether with this mid-engined compact coupe or with its 911 Carrera GTS rear-engined medium coupe and former Panamera GTS large liftback siblings, their autograph comes in the form of black badgework, tinted headlights and tail-lights, often charcoal wheels, and certainly Alcantara trim.
 
But what such signifiers also have long represented is Porsche’s segue between grand touring (GT) and Sport (S) models, a halfway house between the entry-level model grades and the more hardcore motorsport-focused iterations. 
 
In this case the 718 Cayman and 718 Cayman S sit below the 718 Cayman GTS, which for now is the top model grade until the expected 718 Cayman GT4 lands.
 
But the question is always this: should a buyer sign on the dotted line for this middle model grade right now, save coin with one of the cheaper versions, or wait for a limited-edition hero and halo? 
 

Price and equipment

 

Priced from $173,200 plus on-road costs for the six-speed manual and an additional $5980 for the as-tested seven-speed dual-clutch Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) automatic, the 718 Cayman GTS commands a $28,590 premium over the 718 Cayman S PDK with which it shares its engine.

 

However, the following visual and mechanical items are standard on GTS, but together add $19,110 to the S, including (all prices as S options): $4330 each for a Sport Chrono package (including driver-select modes with launch control and Sport electronic stability control) and active sports exhaust; $3190 Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) with locking rear differential; $2710 each for 20-inch alloy wheels and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM); plus $1840 for an Alcantara-clad GT sports steering wheel. Oh, and that still excludes the unique black badgework.

 

Speaking of exclusions, Porsche still charges $4390 for leather dashboard and seat trim teamed with Alcantara, $3290 for 18-way electrically adjustable front seats, $2650 for Bose audio, $2530 for adaptive-LED headlights, and even $1690 each for keyless auto-entry and a reversing camera with front parking sensors. Meanwhile autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is partly bundled with adaptive cruise control at $2990 extra – and with a $200K-plus total, that is Cayman GT4 coin…

 

Interior


The core interior of the 718 Cayman GTS traces back to Porsche’s 2012 981 Cayman, so it certainly lacks some of the glitz and glamour to be found in an Audi TT RS, for example.

However, what it lacks in screen size (the touchscreen is only 7.0 inches) and variety of trim materials (mostly black with silver inserts) this two-door more than makes up for with quality and ergonomic harmony.

 

It is built like the proverbial bank vault, which means incredibly tight shutlines and firmly wound-in trim pieces, combined with nicely tactile elements such as the same softly-damped closure for the console bin lid, glovebox and anything else. It is impossible to overstate just how well made it feels.

 

Teamed with a perfect, legs-forward driving position, a steering wheel notably smaller than that of the previous-generation 981 Cayman, plus an effortless intuition between trip computer, climate, media, phone and navigation, and a vivid realisation occurs that this is not a ‘tick a box’ vehicle.

Indeed, it also more than makes up for its lack of kit with decent space, including the surprisingly roomy front (125-litre) and rear (150L) luggage areas, the latter complete with liftback practicality.

 

Engine and transmission

 

Beyond equipment additions, this is where 718 Cayman GTS separates itself from 718 Cayman S.

Both use a 2.5-litre turbocharged flat four-cylinder petrol engine, but this loftier model grade gets an additional 12kW of power at 269kW, and (only with PDK) another 10Nm of torque at 430Nm.

It is good enough for a 4.1-second 0-100km/h claim, down from either 4.4sec or 4.2sec, the latter being in the case of an S buyer who options Sport Chrono with the launch control standard on GTS.

 

Not only is there only a tenth in it, but even a base 718 Cayman PDK with Sport Chrono can now claim a 4.7sec 0-100km/h – yours for $125,620 when optioned as such, and six-tenths off this $50K-pricier model grade.

Rewind three years to when the base and GTS used naturally aspirated six-cylinder engines, and the separation was 1.2sec, at 5.6sec and 4.4sec respectively.

Of course this flagship model grade is amazingly fast. There is a gobful of power and torque everywhere and the seven-speed PDK is astounding at reading the road and the driver’s mind.

 

Sometimes from low speed the turbocharger can spool too quickly and spoil the linearity that otherwise permeates across the tachometer, and this 2.5 litre does love to rev past 7000rpm.

However, with its loudly coarse and abrasive sound it feels more ‘base’ than GT4 in character. That issue could reverberate, too, because the base 718 has become so fast that surely it would be the best buy for performance versus cash, right? Ah, but there is a decent ace up this top dog’s sleeve.

 

Ride and handling

 

Forget tenths of a second and thousands of dollars just for a moment, because this level of power harnesses this mid-engined, rear-wheel drive chassis like no compact Porsche before it.

Or at least, short of a Cayman GT4.

Teamed with the incredible new Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, there really is almost too much grip for the unbelievable breadth of handling talent the 718 Cayman GTS offers.

Through successive right-angle bends, this supposedly part-GT, part-sports model grade shrugs off any dynamic compromises that might come from the fact it is eminently liveable around town, changing direction with enough G-force to feel your face pull, then instantly settling on its shocks.

A previously tested ‘base’ 718 Cayman on narrower Pirelli P Zero tyres did prove more willing to pivot around its front end and engage with its rear axle, but this is less a criticism and more a reflection that the limits have (likely deliberately) become more racetrack- than backroad-grade.

Add smooth, incisive and feelsome steering, and incredibly level ride quality on 20s whether in the standard or Sport mode, and there is simply not a single chink in the armour of a vehicle that utterly refutes the slightly demeaning ‘compact sports coupe’ tag and rises to become a proper supercar.

Its only competition is really the former Cayman GT4, and there will be another of those along soon…

Safety and servicing

 

Six airbags (including dual front, front-side and curtain), ABS, two-stage electronic stability control (ESC) and rear parking sensors are included in the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS.

 

ANCAP has not tested the 718 Cayman GTS, and Porsche does not offer a capped-price servicing plan, however service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.

The 718 Cayman GTS, like all Porsches, come with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with three year’s roadside assist.

Verdict

 

What the new turbocharged four-cylinder range has lost in aural appeal, it has replaced with a newfound level of performance that better harnesses this benchmark chassis.

But we could be talking about the base 718 Cayman or this 718 Cayman GTS right there. In some ways the latter now misses out on some of its predecessor’s special character, though it has not lost its signature.

 

Forget the black badging and Alcantara, the real signature here is the ability to blend sterling straight-line speed, couth ride quality, class-dominant handling and top build quality.

The only chink is that pricetag, which simply feels too high for the personality of this engine.

 

Comparisons with cheaper model grades or the last GT4 aside, this GTS still offers the best blend of abilities in the range right now – it is more than ever a supercar among mere sportscars.

 

Rivals

 

Audi TT RS from $137,611 plus on-road costs

Matches the 718 Cayman GTS for performance, edges it for character, but handling is miles off.

 

Jaguar F-Type 400 Sport Coupe from $183,512 plus on-road costs

Feels bigger but heavier, though arguably sexier and sweeter sounding.


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