Mo­tor­ing

While they’re not the most po­tent in Porsche’s line-up, the Boxster GTS and Cay­man GTS are ar­guably the best.

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The Boxster GTS goes hard, sounds the busi­ness and clings to tar­mac with the tenac­ity of a bull­dog

Porsche Boxster GTS

Per­fec­tion. That might be giv­ing the game away right from the out­set but, to my mind, Porsche’s new Boxster GTS is so close to mo­torised nir­vana that it’s hard to fathom how it could pos­si­bly be im­proved upon.

The Boxster GTS – short for Gran Turismo Sport – is the first mid-en­gined Porsche since 1963 to wear these three let­ters on its rump (the last one was the 904 Car­rera GTS), and it fol­lows sim­i­larly suf­fixed ver­sions of the 911, Panam­era and Cayenne.

It’s not just a badge-engi­neer­ing job, as the lat­est Boxster vari­ant scores an up­rated en­gine and some of the tasti­est bits from the Porsche per­for­mance cat­a­logue to make it a faster, more fo­cused of­fer­ing than the al­ready en­ter­tain­ing Boxster S. The best part is the price tag – at Dh254,900, it’s only Dh28,100 more ex­pen­sive than the ‘S’.

So, what does the Boxster GTS get? For starters, the 3.4-litre flat-six is up­rated to put out 326bhp and 370Nm, which is suf­fi­cient to make the GTS vir­tu­ally match its 911 Cabrio big brother in a straight-line joust.

Porsche quotes a 0-100kph split of 4.7 sec­onds for the PDK-equipped Boxster GTS with Sport Plus but­ton (in­cluded as part of the stan­dard Sport Chrono pack­age) ac­ti­vated. It’s also ca­pa­ble of hit­ting 278kph, so the GTS has the legs not only to give the 911 a fright, but also worry the likes of the im­mi­nent new BMW M4.

Off­set­ting the ex­tra grunt is Porsche Ac­tive Sus­pen­sion Man­age­ment (PASM) as stan­dard, en­abling you to firm up the damper set­tings at the press of a but­ton. The GTS also sits 10mm lower than the ‘S’ and rides on 20in Car­rera S rims shod with 235/35 rub­ber at the front and 265/35 gum­balls at the rear. The lower cen­tre of grav­ity and beefy foot­print mean it’s an even sharper and more grippy de­vice than its sib­ling, mak­ing it an en­joy­able road­ster to hus­tle across roads with abun­dant cor­ners.

Apart from putting out slightly more power and torque, the flat-six mo­tor is also more vo­cal than be­fore, thanks to a free-flow ex­haust (with black tailpipes) that belts out a crack­ling note in Sport Plus mode. Although more re­strained in nor­mal mode, you can un­leash its full sonic reper­toire via the ex­haust-lo­goed but­ton on the cen­tre con­sole.

So here’s the deal: the Boxster GTS goes hard, sounds the busi­ness and clings to tar­mac with the tenac­ity of a bull­dog at­tached to your trouser leg. More than the ac­tual grip, it’s the sub­lime bal­ance and tac­til­ity of the car that en­cour­ages you to push harder. Even when you do ven­ture be­yond the grip avail­able, it hap­pens so pro­gres­sively you never feel as though you’re go­ing to end up as part of the scenery. The GTS is a bril­liantly us­able sportscar that leaves even mod­er­ately com­pe­tent driv­ers with the im­pres­sion they’re Wal­ter Röhrls in the mak­ing. Part of the han­dling pre­ci­sion stems from dy­namic trans­mis­sion mounts that al­ter their stiff­ness and damp­ing ac­cord­ing to the sit­u­a­tion. In their firmer set­tings, rear body roll is min­imised un­der cor­ner­ing loads, mim­ick­ing the set-up of rac­ing cars.

The PDK-equipped Boxster is ob­vi­ously quicker than the six-speed man­ual but the lat­ter is also an agree­able gear­box, with short, snappy throws and a nice meaty feel. In Sport Plus mode with the man­ual there’s also an au­to­matic throt­tle blip func­tion on down­shifts, but it’s easy enough to gen­er­ate your own throt­tle blips as the ped­als are well po­si­tioned for heel-toe rev-match­ing – should you hap­pen to be skilled in this art.

Even in nor­mal mode the car’s re­sponses are sharp and di­rect, and the vast ma­jor­ity of road-sur­face im­per­fec­tions are soaked up with­out break­ing a sweat. Sport mode firms ev­ery­thing up dis­cernibly, but even in this set­ting the car is ac­cept­ably re­fined in most con­di­tions.

Vis­ually, the GTS stands apart from its lesser sib­lings via unique front and rear fas­cias, blacked out Bi-Xenon head­lights with the Porsche Dy­namic Light Sys­tem (PDLS), those 20in Car­rera wheels and black tailpipes.

The cabin also gets a stylish makeover, with Alcantara trim on the steer­ing wheel, head­liner, cen­tre con­sole and well-sculpted sports seats. Other tweaks in­clude GTS let­ter­ing em­broi­dered on the head­rests, with the same graphic on the tachome­ter that dom­i­nates the clus­tered di­als.

At just un­der Dh255K, Boxster GTS is a cer­ti­fied per­for­mance bar­gain. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more fun-to-drive road­ster… at any price.

Porsche Cay­man GTS

The Porsche Boxster GTS is al­ready a sub­lime all-weather sportscar, so where does that leave the Cay­man GTS? Think of it as a harder, faster ver­sion of its top­less brother – and there are a cou­ple of num­bers that re­flect this fact.

Firstly, the Cay­man is about twoand-a-half times as tor­sion­ally rigid as the Boxster (42,000Nm/de­gree ver­sus 17,000Nm/de­gree). It sounds like a huge dis­par­ity, and it stems from the fact that the chas­sis strength­en­ing ap­plied to the Boxster to com­pen­sate for the lack of a roof has been re­tained for the Cay­man. Con­se­quently, the Cay­man is stiffer even than the pricier and more po­tent 991 Se­ries 911 Coupé (30,400Nm/de­gree).

The taut­ness of the Cay­man trans­lates to ra­zor-sharp dy­nam­ics, and Porsche says the GTS is ca­pa­ble of lap­ping the daunt­ing 20.8km Nür­bur­gring Nord­schleife in 7 min­utes 53 sec­onds (ver­sus 7 min­utes 56 sec­onds for the Boxster GTS). Any­thing that can cir­cu­late The Green Hell in un­der eight min­utes is a se­ri­ously quick de­vice, so these are im­pres­sive lap times.

All the other stats bode well too. The GTS’s 3.4-litre flat-six has been up­rated to put out 335bhp (15bhp more than the Cay­man S), while torque is bumped up to a ro­bust 380Nm. With the PDK trans­mis­sion and the Sport Plus but­ton pressed, this adds up to a 0-100kph dash of 4.6 sec­onds and top whack of 283kph (285kph for the six-speed man­ual). Also no­table is the 80-120kph split of 2.9 sec­onds – ar­guably the most rel­e­vant fig­ure as far as real-world driv­ing is con­cerned.

The sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Cay­man that launched a cou­ple of years ago was al­ready a highly ca­pa­ble and de­sir­able pack­age in stan­dard or ‘S’ form, but the GTS up­grades have made it even more tan­ta­lis­ing, inch­ing it that lit­tle bit closer to be­ing a le­git­i­mate 911 chaser.

Porsche ex­ecs will ar­gue un­til the cows come home about how the Cay­man and 911 are tar­geted at dif­fer­ent cus­tomers and that the for­mer will never be in dan­ger of can­ni­bal­is­ing sales of the rear-en­gined of­fer­ing. How­ever, if I was the one do­ing the buy­ing, I’d have to say the Cay­man GTS stacks up as the far more com­pelling propo­si­tion. It’s bet­ter bal­anced, more en­ter­tain­ing… and it even sounds bet­ter.

As per its sim­i­larly suf­fixed Boxster sib­ling, the Cay­man GTS fea­tures Porsche Ac­tive Sus­pen­sion Man­age­ment (PASM) as stan­dard, which broad­ens the car’s dy­namic reper­toire by en­abling the sus­pen­sion to be tai­lored to cruise-friendly or max­i­mum-at­tack set­tings. Sim­i­larly, the Cay­man GTS also sits 10mm lower than the lesser ‘S’ vari­ant and scores 20in Car­rera S rims, en­hanc­ing an al­ready sound donor pack­age.

Our first taste of the Cay­man GTS is at the Cir­cuito Mal­lorca, which com­prises a suc­ces­sion of hair­pins, as well as a cou­ple of faster sweep­ers that can be at­tacked in third and fourth gears re­spec­tively. First im­pres­sions are of how play­ful yet non-threat­en­ing the car feels as you be­gin to get it danc­ing from one cor­ner to the next.

The steer­ing is crisp and com­mu­nica­tive, and the car has a nim­ble­ness that makes it supremely easy to place on cor­ner en­try. In Sport Plus mode the on-board nan­nies al­low some lee­way for side­ways hooli­gan­ism, should you be so in­clined. Road cars of­ten feel soft and un­der­pow­ered on race­tracks, but the Cay­man GTS has enough re­serves to make it an en­ter­tain­ing com­pan­ion for track-day en­thu­si­asts. The GTS is even more im­pres­sive in real-world con­di­tions, where the ac­ces­si­bil­ity and us­abil­ity of its per­for­mance make it a fan­tas­tic point-to-point de­vice.

The flat-six is smooth and tractable, and the be­spoke sports ex­haust spits out a crack­ing bark when al­lowed to belt out its full reper­toire in Sport Plus mode or via the ex­haust but­ton on the cen­tre con­sole.

As with the Boxster GTS, the lash­ings of Alcantara and GTS lo­gos in the cabin en­dow it with a suit­ably sporty am­bi­ence, and the ex­te­rior tweaks – new front fas­cia, restyled rear apron, blacked-out trim and smoked day­time run­ning lights/tail lights – also hit the mark. The 10-spoke al­loys add fur­ther vis­ual con­trast to lesser Cay­mans (or should that be Cay­men?) with­out ap­pear­ing as though the car is try­ing too hard to look dif­fer­ent.

Ride and re­fine­ment lev­els are never less than com­fort­able, and you could eas­ily clock up sev­eral hun­dred kilo­me­tres in a day with­out wind­ing up with a back­ache or jan­gled nerves. And should a twisty road present it­self along the way, you’re in for a treat.

The Cay­man GTS is the com­plete sportscar and – at Dh258,400 – you’d have a very hard time con­vinc­ing me to buy a 911 in­stead. Make mine Carmine Red with black rims, please…

The cabin gets a stylish makeover with Alcantara trim

The PDK ver­sion is quicker than the man­ual, but the lat­ter is ar­guably more sat­is­fy­ing

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