STAGE AND SCREAM

The Cay­man GTS must be driven — hard, Targa-style — as Porsche in­tended AT A GLANCE

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - IAIN CURRY & JULES LUCHT

Porsche’s 718 Cay­man GTS, the cur­rent halo car of the mar­que’s mid-en­gine sport­ster range, is bristling with en­gine, chassis, styling and specification enhancements. More fo­cused and raw than its Cay­man and Cay­man S sta­ble­mates, the lower-rid­ing, more pow­er­ful and faster GTS ups the cost of en­try, too. It starts from $172,700 or nearly $210,000 as tested here, be­fore on-roads.

It would be a sac­ri­lege to punt the 269kW two-seater in traf­fic or go pos­ing to the shops. This cou­ple of crit­ics had a bap­tism of fire in­stead on the closed roads of Trop­i­cal North Queens­land as part of the Porsche Tour at the Targa Great Bar­rier Reef.

FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS

IAIN: We’ve been smug­gled into the heady world of Porsche en­thu­si­asts, who ac­tu­ally use their cars as the maker in­tended.

JULES: We’ll get away with it. I’ve brought my knock-off Tag Heuer watch and you talk to them about GT2s, GT3s, rear-wheel steer­ing and all that in­ter­est­ing stuff.

IAIN: I’m ready to blend in. The 718 Cay­man GTS is a fine weapon of choice for a Targa rally. It sits squat­ter than nor­mal Cay­mans and it has ag­gres­sive black 20-inch wheels, de­tail­ing and light tints.

JULES: A proper mo­tor­sport colour too.

IAIN: It’s called Carmine red, an option adding $5K to the bill. It’s darker than Porsche’s nor­mal Guards red, and isn’t dis­sim­i­lar to Fer­rari’s Rosso Corsa. Racy.

JULES: Porsche’s 911 shape is time­less sports car el­e­gance but the smaller Cay­man runs it close. Those flared rear arches, sub­tle lip spoiler, side air in­takes and 911-es­que front end are so pure.

IAIN: Un­like many mod­ern sports cars, it re­tains curves rather than re­sort­ing to end­less edges and ugly stick-on bits in the pur­suit of aero­dy­nam­ics.

THE LIV­ING SPACE

JULES: Great, two seats only, no kids al­lowed.

IAIN: And bless­edly bling-free inside. The Cay­man GTS dis­plays noth­ing gar­ish, favour­ing wall-to-wall Al­can­tara for the seats, steer­ing wheel, doors, glove box, wind­screen pil­lars and head­lin­ing. Sub­tle raci­ness and per­fect pro­por­tions.

JULES: Red stitch­ing, seat belts and rev counter are less sub­tle but it’d be black overkill without them.

IAIN: All those are cost op­tions, in­ci­den­tally. As are the dec­o­ra­tive car­bon-fi­bre in­serts. The re­vers­ing cam­era in ours is an ex­tra charge too, which is un­for­giv­able.

JULES: I know toys add weight but Ap­ple CarPlay, op­tional 18-way elec­tric heated seats, heated steer­ing wheel and park sen­sors make the GTS prac­ti­cal to use ev­ery day. The bucket seats are firm but in­fin­itely ad­justable to get a comfy po­si­tion for long drives.

IAIN: Key con­trols are close to hand. A cen­tre con­sole but­ton ad­justs the sus­pen­sion’s firm­ness, the ro­tary dial on the steer­ing wheel shifts be­tween sporty drive modes and there’s a lit­tle but­ton for the bi­modal ex­haust.

JULES: That’s the fun but­ton. The en­gine sounds far meatier with it on.

IAIN: It can’t ri­val Porsche’s flat six-cylin­der note but hav­ing a mid-mounted en­gine right be­hind you is a won­der­ful sports car ex­pe­ri­ence.

THE TOUR STAGES

JULES: There are few cars I’d trust on closed skinny Targa roads at such speeds but the Cay­man GTS is al­most im­pos­si­bly con­fi­den­cein­spir­ing. So very planted in cor­ners. How does it do it?

IAIN: The driver’s un­recog­nised tal­ent, mainly.

JULES: Last I checked Porsche hadn’t of­fered you a fac­tory drive, so let’s put some of it down to the car.

IAIN: Fair enough. There’s se­ri­ous hard­ware here. Porsche’s torque vec­tor­ing plus a me­chan­i­cal lock­ing rear dif­fer­en­tial equals in­cred­i­ble agility and sta­bil­ity. Brakes are mas­sive 330mm discs up­front and the fat 20-inch wheels are shod with sticky Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport 4 S rub­ber. Be­ing mid-en­gined, bal­ance is prac­ti­cally per­fect and tail-out mo­ments are ef­fort­lessly con­trolled.

JULES: Good, as I hate snap over­steer. This felt so safe. I don’t know why you’d want to go any quicker. I can’t be­lieve the speed you get from a four-cylin­der.

IAIN: The GTS has a re­de­vel­oped in­take duct and tur­bocharger and from rest hits 100km/h in 4.1 sec­onds in Sport Plus mode with this du­al­clutch auto. It’s a screamer and the cogswap­ping via pad­dle-shifters is light­ning fast.

JULES: Those lit­tle ex­haust pops when you lift off ... the surge and noise when you get in the high revs ... de­li­cious.

IAIN: We’re sur­rounded by atmo six-cylin­ders on this Targa. I have to say in the GTS the four­cylin­der turbo’s note is a mi­nor let-down. I’ll re­spect­fully over­look this as I’ve driven few cars in at­tack mode that have proved so ag­ile, 8.2L/100km (good; 98RON) Re­pair kit (poor) 275L/ 150L (OK)

re­spon­sive, com­mu­nica­tive and for­giv­ing. You can Targa stage it — hard — driv­ing with your right foot and fin­ger­tips, all with a mas­sive grin on your face.

DRIV­ING HOME

JULES: Thanks for let­ting me do the Targa trans­port stages, with what brakes and tyres you’d left.

IAIN: Harsh. In­cred­i­bly, there was only a bit of ex­tra brake pedal travel af­ter a 12km down­hill.

JULES: No over­heat­ing, no squeaks. Put it back into com­fort mode and the GTS is a pretty neat cruiser.

IAIN: There was an an­noy­ing rat­tle from the back of the cabin at times but a fair re­turn for the flog­ging this car got.

JULES: Its per­son­al­ity changes when you ad­just the drive mode and sus­pen­sion. My com­plaint would be it’s so hard to keep within the speed limit but it’s so tempt­ing to move into sport mode. A head-up speed dis­play would be handy.

VER­DICT

IAIN: No point in hav­ing a Cay­man GTS un­less you use it like this, rev­el­ling in the reams of low­down torque, light­ning steer­ing and gear changes with thrilling chassis bal­ance. A fab­u­lous sports coupe with the looks, speed and en­gi­neer­ing tal­ent to make the or­di­nary driver feel ex­tra­or­di­nary.

JULES: Over 200km of full-tilt closed road stages and the car never com­plained, ex­cept about all the stone chips and cracked wind­screen you man­aged. It some­how makes $200,000 look great value.

PRES­TIGE

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