Porsche has raised the bar with its Cayman GTS, but what’s it like in the UK? We find out…
Sean Carson | October 2014
For non-Porschephiles, the German firm’s ‘GTS’ tag literally stands for ‘Gran Turismo Sport’. Metaphorically, it represents close to the perfect balance between performance and usability; hardcore driving involvement and supermarket run practicality.
So for this Cayman GTS there’s a revvy naturally aspirated engine, a tweaked chassis that copes with back roads better, but doesn’t rattle your rib cage in the process, and enough interior accoutrements to see away a full tank of fuel in one long schlep and plenty of comfort. Take it on track and the car turns into a total demon, too. So is this the perfect one sports car proposition for the UK?
The Porsche Cayman GTS also stakes a claim to that crown thanks to its more compact dimensions compared to its bigger brother, the Porsche 911 – admittedly it is a different proposition, but as a premium performance car at least, on real British roads, the Cayman GTS makes much more sense.
In short then, the Cayman GTS is now very much the new two-seater coupe yardstick by which every other car in the class should be judged.
How fast is the Porsche Cayman GTS?
The GTS is powered by a 340hp, direct-injection 3.4-litre flat-six engine. And it’s lovely.
Just like the regular Cayman, the six-speed manual option’s gearing is long. Combined with the 7,400rpm power peak it means that the motor needs to be revved to extract its performance – you won’t find any clever downsized torque-rich turbo mid-range here. This is old-school redline chasing thrills.
That’s not to say it isn’t flexible. Making 280lb ft of torque between 4,750 and 5,800rpm, it’s quite happy to cruise along in a higher gear.
Hunt for the 4.8-second 0-62mph time and you’ll be left slack-jawed at the sonorous exhaust note, as the deep, resonant burble in the background morphs through a wail into a crying howl up top.
It’s addictive and beautifully involving thanks to that gearbox. It offers the perfect balance between technology and engagement – there’s an automatic throttle blip when changing down in Sport Plus mode, just like a paddleshift transmission – and with a light, positive change action, swapping ratios quickly is a joy.
The seven-speed PDK automatic transmission with paddleshifters is faster – dropping the 0-62mph time to 4.6 seconds with Sport Plus, zipping between cogs with racing car-like speed and precision – and makes light work of heavy traffic in auto mode. At £2,351, it’s an expensive option, but one that we’d seriously consider.
On the subject of options, we also sampled the £4,997 Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes. The power was never in question – the discs and calipers hauling off speed lap after lap on track with plenty of feel – but the standard steel items are so good, it’s one area where only the most focused of drivers will feel the difference.
What does the Porsche Cayman GTS ride and handle like?
It’s not just for those thrill seekers, though. This is not a bone-breakingly brittle sports car, despite the Cayman’s aggressive appearance. Even on the 20mm lower fixed-damper sports suspension, the GTS soaks up cobbles and bobbles around town – or kerbs on a race track – with class and composure.
It’s firm, make no mistake – especially on 20-inch wheels – but the sweet damping means there’s no need to wince at the sight of a manhole cover. The almost imperceptibly small trade-off is a level of control from the suspension that lets you take liberties.
You can enter corners much hotter than your brain might compute, and the balance of the mid-engined chassis makes the car feel agile and eager to change direction.
There’s an on-going argument in the sports car world about the move to electric power steering: purists aren’t keen, but they really should drive the GTS before deriding the new tech.
No, it’s not as full of feel as a steering rack assisted by hydraulics, but it’s the best of the modern bunch (bar for Porsche’s own 911 GT3). Accurate and quick, it means you can place the Cayman GTS exactly where you want it, scything a beautiful arcing line through corners.
Is the Porsche Cayman GTS useable every day?
Despite going like a baby GT3, the Cayman is a pure sports car that boasts every-day practicality – as long as there are only two of you.
The optional carbonfibre bucket seats offer plenty of support, but at £1,914 they’re not cheap. The standard chairs are also very good. Get liberal with more carbonfibre interior add-ons and you’ll see the price head north very quickly.
It looks great, but it’s not necessarily needed, as the Cayman GTS’ cabin is a sporty cocoon that blends the right level of engine noise with enough refinement to make long-distance trips breeze by.
Other points to note include a brilliant driving position, plenty of on-board technology including sat-nav, Bluetooth and other multimedia functions (but again, they’re not cheap…) and two boots. You can store 150 litres in the front and 184 litres in the back, making it relatively practical for two weekend bags or a small shop.
The GTS is £6,614 more than the regular Cayman S, but as the sportiest model in the range, it does come equipped with 20-inch alloy wheels and adjustable suspension dampers in the form of Porsche Active Suspension Management.
There’s also a sports exhaust, more aggressive styling and Porsche’s Sport Chrono Package as standard, which brings with it Sport and Sport Plus modes for the engine and gearbox.
That actually makes it good value. However, just like most Porsches, the options are numerous and expensive. The sat-nav system costs £2,141, while the top Burmester stereo costs £2,663. Still, for the basic £55,397 GTS, you get an awful lot of performance for your money.
MR verdict: Porsche Cayman GTS
The Cayman is the Porsche sports car to plump for, and the GTS the very best version on offer. The price of those options might make it look a touch costly but actually, in base form, it’s a bit of a bargain.
The most potent mid-engined Porsche – 918 Hybrid excluded – is still a lot cheaper than an entry-level 911 (£18,112 cheaper…), just as fast and more rewarding to drive with no more real world drawbacks. It’s brilliant.
Rivals: Porsche Cayman GTS
- Audi TTS
- BMW Z4 35iS
- Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG
An all-new Audi brings a fresh face and lots of technology, but can’t get near the thrills or the performance the Cayman GTS delivers – we’ll have to wait for the RS version for that. BMW’s Z4 35iS trumps the GTS on power (345hp) and is also available with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. But although it’s around £10k cheaper, its folding hard-top and less sophisticated chassis means it can’t match the Cayman’s balance. The Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG is much the same – even with that 421hp 5.5-litre V8 hammer blow.
Specification: Porsche Cayman GTS
Engine: 3.4-litre flat-six
Gearbox: six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK
Price from: £55,397
Torque: 280lb ft
0-62mph: 4.9 seconds (4.6 with PDK and Sport Plus)
Top speed: 177mph
MPG: 31.4 combined (34.4 PDK)
CO2: 211g/km (190 PDK)