PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN GTS

MID-ENGINED PER­FEC­TION

New Zealand Classic Car - - CONTENTS - Words: Lach­lan Jones Pho­tos: Adam Croy

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...

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