Porsche 718 GTS 4.0
1. WONDER WHEEL
GTS scores the excellent 918-inspired smaller-diameter 360mm Alcantara
‘GT sports’ steering wheel. Includes a rotary controller to select between Normal, Individual, Sport and Sport Plus drivetrain/chassis modes.
A red analogue tachometer sits frontand-centre. Mounted centrally in the dash, a compact 4.6-inch infotainment touchscreen display runs the awesomely intuitive and responsive Porsche Communication Management (PCM).
3. CRAM IT ALL IN
Phone goes in the shallow centre console, and there’s generous door bin storage and even a bit of room behind the seats. Owing to its compact rear boot and deep ‘frunk’, totalling 420L of space, this is a car into which you can cram a surprising amount of luggage, provided most of it is in soft bags.
One car is a scalpel, the other a hammer. The Porsche is a car you master, the BMW a car you tame
S55, with its acquired-taste, technical-sounding exhaust note, mixes sudden incredible mid-range turbo torque and a punchy top-end to its 7600rpm redline. But absolutely this is an engine whose torque you surf, rather than whose redline you chase.
Where the Porsche feels to have power and traction (from its rear 265-section Pirellis) in equilibrium, the BMW is constantly surprisingly its rear 265-section Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, especially if they’re cold, which will tend to always be the case in the urban jungle.
With our home dragstrip Heathcote Park unavailable, we didn’t get to performance-test our two combatants this time around. Porsche claims 0-100km/h in 4.5sec and a top speed of 293km/h; BMW, 4.2sec for the manual CS on to a limited 280km/h. In a clutch-dropping, away-from-the-lights contest, the mid-engined Porsche would be certain to show up traction woes on the part of the BMW, but we suspect it would be a different story for 80-120km/h rolling punch.
Throw some corners into the mix and it’s down to the road surface as to who will edge away from who. In the damp conditions early in our test, the Pirelli-shod Porsche eked slowly away from the BMW as it struggled to turn its sticky Michelins ‘on’. But as the day dried up the BMW became the car to catch, almost exclusively owing to its tyres, the Cup 2s offering phenomenal tenacity and confidenceinspiring feedback and feel. In dry conditions these are truly mind-blowing performance tyres. In fact, they dominate the CS handling experience on a dry road. All you can think about is the grip.
But there are other CS virtues to enjoy. The brakes are incredible, and there is something special about the supple, expensive-feeling damping at high speed. Despite slightly numb steering no matter which of the three modes you’re in, the solid-mounted suspension grants beautiful rear-axle feel, as if the rear wheels are bolted to your hips. Combine this with all that power, an accuracy and predictability about the throttle, and an especially lenient ‘M Driver’s Mode’ ESC, and in the CS you have a devil at your shoulder, egging you into easy and hilarious second-gear tail-wags out of every corner. If that’s what you like.
The Porsche couldn’t be more different. While the BMW is all about maximising corner entry speeds and managing traction on exit, the beautifully cohesive Cayman GTS is about flowing from corner to corner and trying to avoid pushing those skinny 235-section front tyres into understeer. Power oversteer, which requires serious coaxing, feels a most uncouth request of the Cayman GTS. This is a car that carves up the road in harmony, sitting a lot lower and more flat than the BMW, its sublime controls feeling like cheese to the BMW’s chalk. It is very much the more puristic experience.
Picking an objective winner of these two is fairly easy.
One car is a scalpel, the other a hammer. One car feels like a cohesive performance package, the other a ‘greatest hits’ of a performance parts bin (and what a performance parts bin). They’re both exceptionally fast cars in very different ways.
The BMW brutalises the road with fat wads of torque and super-sticky tyres. It’s more exciting. You have to manhandle it a bit, hammer into the corner, brake hard, get it turned, then hammer back out again. The Porsche muscles through long gears to the point where you get a rude shock at how fast you’re going. It’s a seriously, deceptively fast car. But it also asks that you are more delicate and deft with your inputs.
There is no subjective winner, though. The Porsche is a car you master; the BMW a car you tame. It’s difficult to think of ways to improve the Porsche, but it’s easy to think of ways to improve the cheeky, rapscallion BMW. Many will find that endearing. I know I do.