The 2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS, quick and agile as a reptile, compares very favourably with the 911, writes Thomas Falkiner
What have we got here — a faster version of the current fastest Cayman?
Yes sir. When you see the letters GTS tacked to the back of a Porsche, you know that the engineers in Stuttgart have worked their performance magic. This means that the controversial 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer engine mounted amidships now thumps out 11kW more than the current Cayman S.
You also gain an extra 10Nm (430Nm total) of torque, which is always welcome. Especially when you reside in the power-sapping heights of Jozi. It’s not all added brawn, mind. That GTS badge means that you also score Porsche Torque Vectoring, Porsche Active Suspension Management and the now legendary Sport Chrono Package as standard fare. Don’t know what this all means? Quite simply, it translates into better handling, speed and acceleration.
On the transmission side of things you pick between a six-speed manual or PDK.
Sounds great but … do you really like that new four-cylinder motor? Really?
On paper and in practice this turbocharged four-banger is a seriously potent animal. Porsche held the media launch at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, a track with long straights and steep elevations. Not once did the Cayman GTS feel sluggish or underpowered. Even flat-out down the pit straight, it didn’t lag that far behind the chase car — a 331kW 911 GTS piloted by a Porsche driving instructor who wasn’t holding back.
That easy, turbocharged torque is a big contributor to this pace and is perhaps the single biggest advantage over those now-defunct naturally aspirated six-cylinder units. There is an Achilles heel here, however, and that’s in the way it sounds. It simply cannot compare with past Cayman greats (the old GTS, R and GT4), producing what I can only describe as a somewhat coarse and artificial drone. It’s like going to a concert expecting to see Oasis but getting a cover band instead.
So you drove it at a track — nice! How did it perform through the bends?
The Cayman has for a long time been the best-handling car in the Porsche stable. And a quick four-lap blast around Kyalami just served to reinforce this fact. Damn, it’s good! So good in fact that through the tighter sections — pretty much all the way from Clubhouse through to Leeukop — I was able to close right up onto the back bumper of that aforementioned 911, which is mighty impressive considering that said 911 is R696 000 dearer. Being mid-engined, the 718 GTS is ultra pointy and tucks in towards the apex point with an immediacy that could rival many a racecar.
Some digital torque vectoring wizardry and a proper mechanical limited-slip differential then allow you to get back on the power with full confidence and rip through the corner en route to the next one at some serious bloody pace. Accurately attacking curves and crooks is what the 718 Cayman GTS is all about and it does it better than sports cars double the price.
Does this sabre-sharp track focus mean that it suffers across real-world roads?
No. Not in the slightest. On our drive from Kyalami to Porsche Centre Pretoria the 718 Cayman GTS felt perfectly livable. Taut and firm, yes, but never uncomfortable — quite a feat when you consider it rides on 20-inch wheels.
The cabin, lashed with lots of “sporty” alcantara, is a pleasant place in which to while away the hours and comes with a slick infotainment system that offers full Apple CarPlay integration. Other highlights include unique electrically adjustable sports seats with GTS embossed logo on the headrests. Although they’re not bad as seats go I did find them a bit lacking in lateral support when out on the track.
If I buy it won’t people look down on me for not purchasing a 911?
Anybody who looks down on you for buying a Cayman over a 911 has mouldy tapioca sloshing around in their head. Yes, back in the early noughties it may have been something of a compromise, but in this day and age the Cayman is as good, and in some instances even better, than its more established sibling.
And here in GTS guise it’s something of a bargain: an all-rounder that’s as at home around the racetrack as it is drudging its way through city traffic. Indeed, nothing in this price range really comes close to matching its almost annoyingly effortless merging of performance, poise and prestige. Sterling job, Porsche, sterling job. – Thomas Falkiner
Fast Facts: Porsche Cayman S
Engine: 2497cc four-cylinder boxer turbo
Power: 269kW at 6 900rpm
Torque: 430Nm from 1 900 to 5 000rpm
0-100km/h: 4.3-seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 290km/h (claimed)
Fuel: 8.2l/100km (claimed combined)
CO2: 186g/km (claimed)
Price: From R1 122 000