Once again, that beautifully balanced chassis is married to a glorious-sounding engine. £10k cheaper than a GT4. Everyday useable
Not much. The gearing’s still too damn long
What is it?
A climb-down, a U-turn, a bit of an apology from Porsche, quite frankly. After four years of blindly insisting the best possible engine for a 718 Cayman was a grunty turbocharged four-cylinder, Stuttgart has given in and hooked up a slightly detuned version of the latest Cayman GT4’s 4.0-litre flat-six for this £65,000 edition. There’s not a turbo in sight.
Traditionally for Porsche, the range gets a bit confusing here. Because Porsche already did a ‘GTS’ version of the 718 Cayman, back in spring 2018. It cost just over £60k, and its 2.5-litre flat-four turbo engine was turned up to 361bhp. If you bought one of those… maybe go make a cup of tea, and sit this one out.
For the v2.0 GTS, Porsche’s GT4 transplant develops 394bhp, down a mere 20bhp from the big-winged range-topper. That means the GTS is just 0.1 sec slower from zero to sixty, taking 4.5 seconds with the standard-fit six-speed manual gearbox.
Besides the new engine, very little has changed – which is no bad thing. As per usual for a GTS, Porsche drops the ride height by 20mm, while the standard-fit adaptive dampers have a sportier state of mind. You get active engine mounts, the Sport Chrono pack (which adds a dashboard stopwatch and four driving modes, selected via a switch on the steering wheel), plus a locking rear differential.
Visually, a GTS is less shouty than a GT4 – you get some smoked light lenses and a black air intake, a set of 20-inch rims and a new rear bumper. You’re going to need to tell people you’ve bought the six-cylinder one – at least until you twist the ignition key. Inside, there’s lashings of carbon fibre and suede trim, to give the GTS a racier ambience. But unlike the GT4, you still get proper door handles.
Prices start at a whisker under £65,000, which pitches the Cayman GTS far above the likes of the Alpina A110S and BMW M2 Competition. But if you look at it as very nearly a GT4 for £10k less, or perhaps a better out-and-out sports car than a 911, then you could argue it’s a bargain. Frankly, it’s so good we reckon you’ll be able to make any excuse you need to justify the price. Sorry, Porsche-o-phobes: they’ve only gone and done it again.
What's the verdict?
Can we finally lay to rest the tired old nonsense that people only buy Caymans because they can’t afford 911s? The new 718 GTS blows that out of the water.
It’s smaller than the current 911, it makes a better noise, it’s more enjoyable at sensible road speeds, just as refined when your hair isn’t on fire, and so long as you don’t need occasional child seats, pretty much as practical every day. This is arguably the best car Porsche builds right now – it feels like a bargain at £10k less than a Cayman GT4, because it certainly doesn’t feel £10k slower, or £10k less special in the corners, or look £10k uglier.
The other four-pot Caymans will live on, and they still have their place. It’s still a world-class chassis for the money. In China, where tax laws favour a 2.0-litre engine, it makes sense. But to drive this GTS is to love it, and to rediscover what we’ve been missing.
For the last few years, the sports car choice has been between your head (choosing a 718 Cayman in spite of its dreary engine) and your heart (yearning for the less polished but refreshingly lithe Alpine A110). With the GTS, the Cayman climbs back to the top of the wish-list.
It just doesn’t get much better that this.