PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN GTS
We last drove the Porsche Cayman in 2017, when the new 718 turbocharged version was freshly released. That was the S-version, and we were impressed. The new turbo set-up might have ruffled a few feathers initially, but, soon enough, the benefits and performance offered by the new car seem to have taken the squawking birds down a notch or two.
At that time, we couldn’t help but compare the Cayman to a middle child. Middle-child syndrome affects millions of people worldwide. Middle children will find themselves left at service stations and restaurants as their families carry on their journeys or head for home. They will miss out on the themed birthday parties lavished on their siblings (a novelty for the parents hosting the eldest; a necessity for the youngest, as it’s their last; but a burden for the middle child).
Due to this ongoing neglect (in case you’re reading, this is hyperbole, Mother!), the middle child is forced to make their own way. They will create their own path, and, in doing so, foster their independence and develop a thick skin.
The middle child in this case is, of course, the Cayman. It finds itself sandwiched between the iconic 911 and the playful and endearingly effeminate Boxster.
The first-generation Cayman continued with the tried-and-true Porsche formula of flat-six engines — in 2.7-litre or 3.4-litre offerings. The Cayman offered a unique proposition in terms of price and performance, and was soon recognized as a proper sports car at a more palatable price point than a 911 for those who might’ve previously been drawn to a more German experience — think along the lines of the BMW Z4 or the Mercedes-benz SLK.
Driving the 2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS
Of course, there will be doubters as to the pedigree of the Cayman versus these titans of the small, well-balanced sports car. There will be some who scratch their head at the price tag ( just over $180K, as tested) and wonder why, oh why, one might fork out all this dosh when a better option might be a near-new 911 or saving up for a wee bit longer and getting yourself one fresh from the factory.
A number of the Cayman doubters were put in their place with the Cayman GT4, released in 2015, which was based on the previous-model Cayman with the six-pot engine. And while we certainly hope that Porsche can once again sprinkle that magic across the latest iteration of the Cayman with a couple fewer cylinders, we think that the Cayman GTS is a perfect stop- gap.
On the road
So, what does the ‘GTS’ moniker mean in terms of the car and how it drives? The Cayman GTS is powered by the same 2.5-litre flat-four engine as the S-model, but the GTS offers an 11kw bump over the S to 265kw, which is 26kw more than the six-pot GTS offered in the previous generation. Though these numbers don’t appear to be all that impressive, remember that they are just numbers. The slight gains listed here don’t account for the smoother fashion in which the GTS gets up to pace, with a worked turbocharger, meaning smoother acceleration and less lag (not that there was much to mention in the S). The GTS rides 10mm lower than the standard S-model (20mm lower if you go for the Sports Chassis option). This, coupled with the optional 20-inch wheels, ensures that you’re going to be quite sure when you hit a pothole, but, with adjustable damper settings, even when driving in Sport Plus mode, you can tinker away to get the best of both worlds.
This suspension set-up, paired with a freshly utilized mechanical limited-slip differential means that, with practise, the rear-wheel-drive Cayman can be beautifully slid around a track, making it look like you’re a budding Chris Harris.
Watch your mode
Driving modes are all the rage, and the VW Group takes its seriously. In Sport mode, the engine becomes responsive and ready to play at any point in the rev range. All of this wizardry culminates in a 0–100kph time of 4.3 seconds, or 4.6 seconds if you are still convinced you need a manual sports car. We’ve written about Porsche’s PDK gearbox before, and we’ll do it again. It’s bloody fabulous. The seven-speed dual-clutch set-up is lightning quick when you want it to be, and calm and easy when you don’t. Although, at 30kg heavier, there will be those who say that the manual is the only option. Either
We believe that the Cayman GTS is a true contender in the hotly contested tin-top, small sports car bracket. Although, we’re pretty excited at the prospect of a GT4 Cayman, too
way, you won’t be disappointed.
So, overall, the new Cayman GTS offers an excellent performance package in a good-looking body with the underpinnings of sports car pedigree like no other. We believe that the Cayman GTS is a true contender in the hotly contested tin-top, small sports car bracket. Although, we’re pretty excited at the prospect of a GT4 Cayman, too.
Cayman along for the ride
Chances are that not all of us are in the $100K (almost $200K!) car-buying bracket. So, for those of us in that camp, the new Cayman remains a car to be read about, watched, and maybe lusted after. A ‘one day’ car. But there might be a way for the average car enthusiast to make the first step into Porsche ownership at what appears to be a very reasonable price point.
While much has been said of the classic 911 market going from strength to strength, not much has been said of what could occur, over time, with the Cayman.
As we’ve mentioned before, the Cayman was not necessarily a welcome addition to the Porsche line-up. Around the same time, Porsche was having a crack at the SUV market and taking away some of what the brand had spent decades building — a car company that built
rear-engined sports cars with three little numbers on the back.
The first-generation Cayman now offers savvy buyers an opportunity to get into their very own Porsche for, in some cases, as at time of publishing, less than $30K. In recent times, your chances of buying a sporty Porsche for that kind of money were limited to a 996 911 with potentially catastrophic intermediate shaft bearing (IMS) issues, or an early Boxster in a purple hue.
Of course, when it comes to used performance cars, one must take a large dose of caveat emptor. We recommend doing your homework on the car you’re buying, and ensuring that you’re comfortable with any potential issues that might arise and the expense they might bring. But, in the same breath, we recommend that you enjoy life and, sometimes, that means buying the car and just enjoying it!
The firstgeneration Cayman now offers savvy buyers an opportunity to get into their very own Porsche for, in some cases, as at time of publishing, less than $30K
If the number ‘718’ rings any bells, it might be due to the mid- engined race car introduced in the late 1950s that also successfully ran a four- cylinder horizontally opposed engine, albeit without the benefit of turbocharging. Porsche has gone to...