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Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 (2020) review: 5.0/5

Glory be, you can now have a flat-six 4.0-litre in the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS.

Shane O' Donoghue

Words: Shane O' Donoghue - @Shane_O_D

Published on: February 16, 2020

Words: Shane O' Donoghue - @Shane_O_D

Published on: February 16, 2020

Tech Specs

Model testedPorsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0
Price€119,038
Engine4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six petrol
Transmissionsix-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body styletwo-seat coupe
CO2 emissions246g/km (Band G - €2,350 per annum)
Combined economy26.1mpg (10.8 litres/100km) NEDC
Top speed293km/h
0-100km/h4.5 seconds
Power400hp at 7,000rpm
Torque420Nm at 5,000-6,500rpm
Boot space150 litres front, 270 litres rear

If you are one of the few that really does take their Porsche sports car to the track regularly, then you're likely to feel that it's worth paying extra for the full-on 718 Cayman GT4. For most, though, the new 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 tested here is a better fit for everyday use. More importantly, it features the mighty 4.0-litre flat-six, naturally aspirated engine. It's a sensational creation.

In the Metal:

The Porsche GTS specification is well established, so the new 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 carries on where its predecessor left off. Up front, there's a model-specific Sport Design apron with black detailing, complementing the dark background of the headlights. Black badging features, too, extending to the model script on the doors, while the 20-inch alloy wheels are finished in 'Satin-Gloss Black'. Red brake callipers are standard (though the car pictured has yellow callipers, signifying the presence of the optional ceramic brake upgrade). At the back, the wide-spaced exhaust outlets (as on the GT4 and 718 Spyder) sit within a black surround to give the GTS 4.0 an instantly identifiable look.

Inside, the new Cayman GTS gets Alcantara on the steering wheel, armrests, door pull handles, A-pillars, headlining, centre console and gear lever, as well as on the centre panels of the electrically adjustable sports seats. GTS logos are found on the rev counter, embroidered into the headrests, on the touchscreen and on the door sills. That screen, a seven-inch item, is part of the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment system.

Driving it:

At the GTS 4.0 international launch, our only opportunity to drive the Cayman version was on a warm and dry track, at Estoril in Portugal incidentally. We're not complaining about that in the least, but it does mean that we can't give you a fully-rounded report on its driving manners, as we were at full throttle for the majority of the time, doing our best to keep the 911 Carrera S pace car in sight. Of course, old as this circuit is, it's not exactly festooned with bumps and potholes, so who knows what the real-world ride quality of the Cayman GTS 4.0 is? Not us.

And, sitting into the Alcantara-clad cabin of the new car and twisting the ignition key to hear the flat-six petrol engine soar into life, we suspect few will care. Nonetheless, Porsche has cleverly developed the Cayman GTS 4.0 to be quite a different beast to the mighty GT4 above it. Where the latter gets ball-jointed suspension that can be mechanically adjusted to suit whichever circuit you're on, the GTS's setup is more road-biased. Saying that, the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM - meaning adaptive damping) system comes with a 20mm lower ride height than standard Porsche 718 fayre, which usefully lowers the centre of gravity and gives the GTS added stance. Interestingly, Porsche allows GTS buyers to specify a more comfortable setup with only a 10mm ride height reduction.

Needless to say, we twisted the rotary driving mode switch (included on the steering wheel as part of the standard Sport Chrono package) to Sport Plus for our track test, to optimise body control. The driving modes also alter throttle response, the sports exhaust and the retractable rear spoiler. Niftily, the Porsche Stability Management (PSM - i.e. stability control) has a Sport setting that sits between the on and off modes, allowing more experienced drivers to take liberties with the car on and near the limit, but without completely removing the reassurance of an electronic safety net.

A few other bits and pieces in the chassis are worth pointing out. The GTS 4.0 gets Porsche Active Drive Mounts, which actively soften or stiffen as needs be, the idea being more comfort and refinement when the mounts are soft, but better control and a more direct feeling when they are firm. This offers the best of both worlds.

A mechanical limited slip differential divides the engine output between the rear wheels, which is particularly useful on the exit of a tight bend, as it means more torque to the wheel on the outside of the corner as you feed the power back in. This is augmented by Porsche Torque Vectoring, which gently brakes the wheel on the inside of a turn to help the Cayman rotate into the corner, aiding the feeling of agility.

All this certainly helps the GTS feel keen to turn in and hold its line before firing out at an angle you determine with the accelerator. The electromechanical power steering is exceptionally good, too, managing to be pleasingly direct without nervousness, and it even conveys to your hands what's going on where the tyres meet the road (or track in this case). Our test car rode on Pirelli P Zero tyres, which aren't at all as track-oriented as the likes of the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 items fitted to the Cayman GT4, so it was no surprise to hear them squealing in protest under heavy braking and when cornering. Still, they didn't detract from the talents of the GTS, which was an absolute joy to lap at ten tenths.

In short, the Cayman GTS 4.0 may not be quite as accomplished on track as the GT4, but it's still brilliant to drive, and it should be easier to live with on a daily basis.

In fairness, all versions of the Porsche 718 range drive sweetly so the GTS's on-track prowess is of no surprise. The whole experience, however, is amplified no end by the fact that there's a naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six engine behind the cabin. It's effectively the same unit as in the GT4 and Spyder (i.e. based on the 911's direct-injection engine, minus the turbos - which we realise is massively oversimplifying the work that has gone into its creation), with a smidgen less power (a round 400hp instead of 420hp).

That 20hp is irrelevant. All that matters here is that it goes like stink and it sounds glorious like only a horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine can. For now, like the GT4, the GTS 4.0 can only be specified with a six-speed manual gearbox, but Porsche has confirmed that it will offer its dual-clutch PDK transmission in conjunction with this engine in time. Each to their own, but I'd have a manual gearbox for this car for sure. The pedals are perfectly placed for heel-and-toe throttle blips under braking, though it's a shame that Porsche doesn't allow the driver to turn off its clever rev-matching software in all modes. The gearing, as we found in the GT4, isn't perfect, with a very long second gear, but the change itself is nigh-on flawless, mixing tactile feel with easy slickness. It's the type of gearbox you'll change gears in for no other reason than to enjoy it.

What you get for your Money:

It's tricky to make a rational financial argument for the current Cayman GT4, given that it's some €60,000 more than the basic 718 Cayman, regardless of its ability on track and relative exclusivity. The new Cayman GTS 4.0, however, is a different kettle of fish, as it now marks the entry point into six-cylinder Cayman ownership. Sure, it's still a sizeable €40,000 more than that entry-level coupe, but the fact it's also €20,000 less than the GT4, with which it shares so much, means we see it is a veritable bargain.

Summary

If you believe, as many do, that the Porsche 718 Cayman should only be fitted with six-cylinder engines, then the new 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 represents a more affordable and more usable way into such a thing than the harder-edged GT4. Don't for a second think of the GTS as the lesser option, however, as it's a proper sports car by any measure. One of our favourite at any price, actually.



Alternatives

Car Reviews | Alpine A110 coupe (2018) | CompleteCar.ie
Alpine A110 vs. Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 (2020): a very different way to go about coupe thrills, and an exceptional car, but, if we could afford it, we'd take the Porsche.

Car Reviews | Lotus Exige 410 Sport (2019) | CompleteCar.ie
Lotus Exige 410 Sport vs. Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 (2020): this is a surprisingly close match, even if the Porsche wins the interior ambience and perceived sophistication round. Both brilliant to drive.

Car Reviews | Toyota Supra | CompleteCar.ie
Toyota Supra vs. Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 (2020): less power, more torque and much cheaper; an interesting comparison all the same.

Tech Specs

Model testedPorsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0
Price€119,038
Engine4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six petrol
Transmissionsix-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body styletwo-seat coupe
CO2 emissions246g/km (Band G - €2,350 per annum)
Combined economy26.1mpg (10.8 litres/100km) NEDC
Top speed293km/h
0-100km/h4.5 seconds
Power400hp at 7,000rpm
Torque420Nm at 5,000-6,500rpm
Boot space150 litres front, 270 litres rear