PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN & BOXSTER ON KYALAMI
Vorwärts on performance engineering
To celebrate an illustrious heritage of 70 sporty years, Porsche has returned to its origins with the four-cylinder 718 Boxster and Spyder GTS models. Ferdi de Vos experienced the giant-slaying performance of the smallest Porsches on and off the race track.
My first Porsche driving experience was nearly thirty years ago when, as a young journalist, I was kindly allowed to sample a 944 S2, powered by what was at the time the largest production fourcylinder engine in the world.
I remember how I somewhat grudgingly accepted the offer, as back then, to my mind, the only “real” Porsches were the potent, ostentatious and raucous 911 Carreras. How wrong I was; and nowadays I am grateful my first taste of Zuffenhausen magic was in a four-cylinder model — as it was small, lightweight cars with rigid construction and powerful four-pot engines that established Porsche’s credentials in the sports car world.
What I do remember of the 944 was the surprising rev flexibility of its big four-cylinder lump (good for 155 kW of power), and its unpleasantly harsh ride quality. Interestingly, over 163,000 of the 944 family models were produced until 1991, making it the most successful car model in Porsche’s history until the introduction of the Boxster.
The bloodline of the newly released 718 Boxster and Cayman GTS models extends back to the origins of the marque as they are direct descendants of Type 356 “Number One”, the original Porsche, registered in Austria in June 1948.
This small aluminium-bodied twoseater open roadster had a midmounted, air-cooled flat-four engine — the same configuration used in the latest 718 GTS models, but with the addition of a turbo to make it the most powerful fourcylinder production engine now produced by Porsche.
The 356 was superseded by the iconic 550 Spyder — the original giant-killer — while the 718 was a race track-developed improvement of the 550. The latest 718 Boxster has a direct connection to the legendary 718 RS61 Spyder race car of the 1960s, while the 718 Cayman is a descendant of the equally successful 718 GTR Coupe.
FEWER CYLINDERS, MORE POWER
Even with two cylinders less, the 2.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo flat engine in the GTS newcomers delivers 269 kW — up to 26 kW more (and with 70 Nm more torque) than their predecessor models with naturally aspirated six-cylinder engines. With a redeveloped intake duct and optimised turbocharger, the engine also delivers 11 kW more power compared to the S model.
Both GTS models are available with a manual six-speed transmission or PDK, and while maximum torque for the manual version is set at 420 Nm, the PDK models are rated for 430 Nm. This enables the PDK model with standard Sport Chrono package to charge from standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.1 seconds (4.3 seconds according to Porsche’s website, while a time of 4.6 seconds is indicated for the manual derivatives) and reach a top speed of 290 km/h.
It is still not as quick as the Audi TT RS (3.7 seconds from 0-100 km/h) but compares favourably with the acceleration times claimed for the Jaguar F-Type V8 and Mercedes-SMG SLC43 roadster.
The new Boxster GTS also set a time of 7 minutes 40 seconds on standard road tyres around the 20.83 km Nordschleife of the Nürburgring — 16 seconds quicker than the previous Boxster GTS, 13 seconds quicker than its Cayman counterpart, and 2 seconds faster than the current 718 Cayman S.
Visually, the GTS is distinguished from lesser variants by a new 911-esque Sport Design front apron with a black spoiler lip, as well as darkened Bi-Xenon headlights and blackened front light modules. Porsche’s Dynamic Light System (PDLS) is available as an option.
From the side, the GTS is easily recognised by black GTS logos and black 20” wheels, while the rear also has dark-tinted rear lights, a matt black rear apron with GTS logo, and centrally-positioned black sports tailpipes.
Inside, you are welcomed by a plethora of GTS logos in the luxurious Alcantara bedecked interior. It is embossed on the black door entry guards, the tachometer and headrests, while
“IT’S NOT A RUMBLE, NOR A GROWL… MORE LIKE A REVERBERATING GRUMBLE. IT IS NOT AS SONOROUS AS THE NOISE OF THE OLD SIX-CYLINDER...”
the TFT screen also greets passengers with the GTS logo upon launch.
Sports seats Plus with two-way electric control is standard, and besides the highresolution touchscreen display for the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system, a Sport Chrono Package is also standard. This includes an analogue stopwatch on the dash, and a digital one in the instrument display. If this is not enough, Porsche’s Track Precision app is now also available for the 718 GTS. This allows drivers to record their laps from 130 predefined circuits around the world, and automatically records and displays detailed analyses of this information, even on your Apple Watch.
All these applications emphasise the trackoriented bias of the GTS models. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) that lowers the GTS models by 10 mm compared to the S model is also standard, while Torque Vectoring (PTV) and a rear mechanical difflock ensure even more agility and stability.
Push the starter button and the twin exhausts of the GTS emit a sound that’s difficult to define: It’s not a rumble, nor a growl… more like a reverberating grumble. It is not as sonorous as the noise of the old six-cylinder, but still distinctive, sporty and punchy; especially with the exhaust flap wide open.
With Sport mode Plus (which includes launch control) engaged on the small steering wheel, the engine and PDK transmission responds instantaneous and virtually seamlessly, while the Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system enables more side slip angle, allowing for sportier driving.
Even without the optional PASM sports chassis, lowering the car another 10 mm, the Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) system and mechanical rear diff lock both 718 GTS models stuck to the flat asphalt like leeches, but in the twists — with throttle blip automatically activated on downshifts — the tin-top Cayman just felt a touch more secure than its drop top twin.
Oh, and the “Sport Response” function (that primes the engine and transmission for the fastest possible unleashing of power, guaranteeing maximum responsiveness for about 20 seconds) came in very handy at the start of the long Kyalami straights where the Cayman and Boxster were launched… and helped keep the Porsche instructors leading in 911 Carrera T models honest.
The sharp deceleration provided by the grey cast iron brakes with red callipers (a Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake system is optionally available), also contributed to the lighter Boxster and Cayman GTS models catching the heavier 911’s while braking into the corners.
Also impressive was the pliant damping and unexpected supple ride quality of the 718s over bumpy and rutted roads (when in Normal driving mode), and in this regard, the Porsches are more than a match for their RS rivals from Ingolstadt.
The latest Porsche 718 GTS models again signify Porsche’s resolute adherence to the core values that made the brand famous over the last seven decades. And with their newfound four-cylinder identity, they’re not living in the shadow of their 911 Carrera siblings anymore. On the contrary, they are now pacesetters in defining the future of the Porsche tradition.