The Porsche Cayman is a survivor, isn’t it? After all, the 911 is just a rung or two up in the line-up but with the amount of prestige the 911 has garnered over the decades, those rungs represent a darn steep climb. Indeed, one might say that Porsche choked the Cayman a little bit because it didn’t want to hurt the 911’s feelings. The Cayman’s mid-engine layout is inherently better for balance than the 911’s rear-engine layout and Porsche needed to ensure the two stayed in separate orbits.
It worked for a while, but then someone at Porsche must’ve said “OK, that’s enough. This car has earned its stripes. Now, let’s see how far we can take it” and from that came this: the Cayman GTS 4.0, one of just a few naturally aspirated gas-powered Porsche models.
The Cayman GTS’s 4.0-litre flat-6 is good for 395 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque and while that puts it at the bottom of the power spectrum when it comes to the GTS range, you’d never know it. That’s because this is such a free-revving screamer of an engine with a 7,800 rpm redline (and one that makes peak power through to 7,000 rpm) that the speed is almost a by-product to the livewire feeling you get when you open the taps. It’s a fantastic look at what made Porsches oh-so sought after before the turbo wave broke: the smooth, progressive and altogether unique power delivery of a flat NA motor.
0-100 km/h takes just 4.0 seconds on cars equipped with the seven-speed dual-clutch (as seen here), on to a top speed of 288 km/h.
All this before we even get to the real nut of this thing, the real “Gran Turismo Sport” (not the game; this is what Porsche says their “GTS” stands for) aspects of what this car is all about, its mannerisms through the corners.
In addition to the power boost you have over the four-cylinder 718 Cayman S (about 45 hp and a colossal one lb-ft), GTS spec provides a host of standard chassis features. The Sport Chrono package with its clock atop the dash, for example, is standard here. It adds a Sport Plus mode for even faster gearshifts, active engine mounts, torque vectoring and a mechanical limited-slip differential. In addition to the Sport Chrono, you also get Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and the ride height drops by 20 mm.
Of all that, though, those active drivetrain mounts are what really do it for me. They help reduce vibrations caused by everything from the surface below to the running engine and they really do make it so that with the Cayman GTS, you feel like you’re piloting one solid as-one piece of machinery that makes no excuses. It rewards confident steering and throttle inputs with whip-snap response and a game attitude to spear you down your favourite road – or track – with gumption, with panache, with confidence. How this car can make it seem like it’s tapped directly into your cerebral cortex is a feeling few others out there can replicate.
Traditionally for a car like this, the manual would be the obvious choice. It’s better for driver involvement, you get a higher top speed and the 718’s shift linkage is one of the best in the biz. Plus, you save yourself the $4,250 required to get the PDK auto. However; the PDK provides a faster 0-100 km/h time and is incredibly responsive so the choice isn’t quite as black-and-white as you might think.
Speaking of “panache”; there’s plenty of it on the styling front here, too. You get fantastically dark 20-inch wheels as standard (unfortunately switched for more basic rims wrapped in winter rubber on my tester), which are made to look even more eye-catching if you select the ceramic brakes and their yellow calipers. Which, along with the PDK transmission, comprise two-thirds of the performance options you can select for the GTS.
Those wheels manage to ground the GTS even more – as if it needed it, what with its lower ride height and just its overall shape, which is muscular but European in all the right ways. The best way to describe it is how proportional it is; from the angle of the windshield to the ducktail-like rear spoiler, to the rear diffuser and its two fat tailpipes, to the side intakes and low-profile front splitter, the GTS is an example of what a modern sports car should look like. And Yes, I will have my tester’s Python Green paint, thank you very much. Fits the theme of the car oh-so-perfectly.
Inside, highlights include the red central tach and red seatbelts both part of the GTS Interior Package that I’d most definitely opt for. Also: I will caution that while cool-looking and supportive, the carbon bucket seats on my tester are very snug. I think I’d opt for the standard 2-way adjustable Sport Seats or the 18-way Adaptive Sports Seats Plus, which cost less than full buckets.
We still have Porsche’s last-generation infotainment system on board, and it’s nowhere near as slick as Porsche’s new system. The buttons around it are small and somewhat finicky, while the auto shift lever is big and somewhat ugly. The paddle shifters are crafted from cheap plastic not entirely befitting of the marque (something a little more substantial crafted from, say, carbon fibre would be welcome) and we also have the weird, flimsy dash-mounted cupholders that look like afterthoughts. At least they retract entirely from view. Indeed, while Porsche’s sports cars have grown over the years, their cockpits are still snug places to sit and there’s only a select amount of real estate for extraneous pieces like cupholders.
A cupholder extraneous? Heck yes. These are driver’s sports cars, they are not grand tourers and the 718 GTS is probably the purest example of that in a pond full of purity over at Porsche.
Perfection in car form? It’s up there. With a bullet.
2023 Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0
two-door sports coupe
mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
4.0-litre flat-6, 395 hp, 310 lb-ft of torque
FUEL ECONOMY CITY/HIGHWAY/COMBINED:
12.3/9.8/11.1 L/100 KM
seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
150 L front, 275 L rear
WEBSITE: Porsche Cayman