Porsche 718 Cayman GTS Review - Shock and Awe

BY Sean Loo

Hurrah, you don’t need to sink money into a Cayman GT4 to get a flat-six engine. This is one of Porsche’s big hits; the Cayman GTS.

After a solid four years of vouching for that grunty turbocharged four-cylinder in the 718 Cayman, Stuttgart has had a bit of an epiphany and done a U-turn. They've went and plonk in a slightly detuned version of the latest Cayman GT4's 4.0-litre flat-six, and gave life to this - the new Cayman GTS.

Wait, didn’t this name previously exist? You see, Porsche already introduced a 'GTS' version of the 982-generation 718 Cayman back in the spring of 2018. It had a 2.5-litre flat-four turbo engine, juiced up to 361bhp. It was fun, sure, but didn’t have the same kind of ferocity as other competitors.

This latest one though, launched back in 2020, dumps the flat-4-pot for a 6er, and my god it makes a ton of difference. So, if you were one of the proud owners of the first-gen 982-GTS, well, you might want to make yourself a cup of tea and sit this one out.

Because what we have here is so good that you might just find yourself considering a trade-in.

Quintessential sportscar essence

Once more, we find that beautifully balanced chassis dancing in perfect harmony with a glorious engine. And oh, what an engine it is! You'd never suspect this to be a detuned version of a hotter motor.

In some cars, you can almost sense the moment when the onboard computer taps the engine on the shoulder and tells it to tone it down. Not here. This one revs cleanly and sincerely all the way to an orgasmic 7,800rpm redline. By the time it gets there, you've probably startled every living soul within earshot.

In this version 2.0 GTS, Porsche's GT4 transplant produces 394bhp; just a 20bhp drop from the top-of-the-range model. This means the GTS is merely 0.1 second slower in the century sprint, clocking it at 4 seconds with the 7-speed auto PDK.

If you've had a taste of turbocharged Caymans recently, you might initially find having to work for your performance a bit unfamiliar, even a tad inconvenient in this new GTS.

The old 2.5-litre GTS thrust 421Nm your way at a mere 2,100rpm. With the 4.0-litre GTS, you've got to wait until 5,500rpm for that same peak torque.

But here's the twist - this engine has an entirely different, and might I add, better character. Instead of mashing the throttle and waiting for a turbo to rescue you, you roll up your sleeves and actively seek that urgency. And boy, is it worth the effort.

We tend to forget just how 'old-school' naturally aspirated engines make every rev and throttle opening a symphony. Most modern speed demons only hit their high notes when they're flat out. This GTS, however, starts chatting at idle, grumbles moodily at low revs, and then ascends from a mournful, barrel-chested growl to a mournful howl as the needle climbs past 3 o'clock. It sounds amazing, all the time.

While I would've loved to get my hands on the manual variant, this one came with the 7-speed PDK gearbox. It's a delight to operate, shifting gears with crisp precision, and you can rest easy knowing you won't accidentally shift your precious engine into an early retirement.

Need a gear? Boom, there it is. Though, I'd have appreciated slightly shorter gearing. After all, who wants to break the national speed limit in second gear in a fun b-road car like this?

You can ramp up the engine response using the rotary selector on the steering wheel. The sporty damper setting is best reserved for racetracks, as the roads in Singapore are far too tame for it.

Weighing in at 1,405kg, the GTS is, in fact, 15kg lighter than a Cayman GT4. It's about as noticeable as the 20bhp power difference. This is a superbly balanced car, and you can genuinely feel it working all four tyres equally hard.

It boosts your confidence too whilst driving. It's not a hooligan unless you really provoke it, but it has that rare quality: absolute fun even at reasonable speeds. You're not likely to push this mega, grippy chassis to its limits on the expressway, but you'll adore the impeccably weighted steering, the precise turn-in, and its magnificent traction.

Ultimately, it's very flattering, and who doesn't want to get around feeling like they’re a great driver?

Plus, the Cayman GTS 4.0 is quite livable as a daily driver. Its adaptive suspension takes the sting out of most bumps, and it's easy to manoeuvre around town despite being a low-slung sports car. You could easily make it your daily ride, with the Cayman's only vice being road noise.

And that addictive note? Well, it serenades you even when you turn off the sporty exhaust to keep the peace with your neighbours.

Apart from the new engine, very little has changed, and that's not a bad thing. As per the usual GTS treatment, Porsche drops the ride height by 20mm and the standard-fit adaptive dampers give it a sportier disposition. It also comes with active engine mounts, the Sport Chrono pack, and a locking rear differential.

Porsche says the Cayman GTS 4.0 will return approximately 9.9km/litre, which falls somewhere between "meh" and "ugh." But it's not like anyone buys these for their fuel economy, anyway. I drove the way the car was designed for and got 6.9km/litre in mixed traffic. Nice.

Did anything change drastically?

There's not much new to report in terms of the GTS's appearance and interior - it was in 2016 when Porsche last updated the Cayman's interior while transitioning to turbo engines and the '718' label. That update brought rounded vents instead of squircles, a refreshed 7-inch PCM touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and new steering wheels.

It's a delightful place to be, with high-quality materials assembled with meticulous attention to detail. There's plenty of storage for your bits and bobs, and hallelujah, Porsche still has those old-school pop-out cup holders. The multitude of buttons on the centre console is starting to feel outdated, and the sight of stacks of blanks, even in a GTS, is somewhat irksome.

Having said that, pressing a tactile button to activate the sporty exhaust is more user-friendly than the touch-sensitive glossy consoles that Porsche has been infatuated with lately. Even after a day of heavy use, the Cayman's cockpit isn't a smudgy mess of fingerprints.

As always, you sit between two generous boots. The front compartment is surprisingly deep, and there's a smaller cargo area behind the engine, concealed beneath a handy parcel shelf; more than enough for the occasional weekend getaway.

You can even stow extra bags on top of the engine if you're going on a long journey, but be warned it may warm up your baggage slightly. Not great for rear visibility either since your view out the back becomes compromised, but at least the practical option is available to you.

Visually, the GTS is less ostentatious than a GT4. It boasts some smoked headlight lenses and black air intakes, a set of 20-inch rims, and a redesigned rear bumper. It flies under the radar; you’ll have to tell folks you've got the six-cylinder version - at least until you turn the key.

Sure, some folks might take one look and say, "It's just not a proper 911, y'know?" But who cares if it isn't one? It's not pretending to be a 911; it's a bonafide dogfighter with a seductive facade and a raucous personality to boot. It offers space, style, and fun all bundled into one.

This is why people sometimes find the Cayman a bit boring, y’know. It's simply excellent at everything - even the sensible stuff.

Don’t discriminate just because it says “718”

Can we finally bury the old notion that people only buy Caymans because they can't afford 911s? The new 718 GTS dispels that myth in a heartbeat.

It's smaller than the current 911, it sounds better, it's more enjoyable at reasonable road speeds, equally refined for non-hair-on-fire moments, and practical for daily use.

This is arguably the best car Porsche produces right now. It feels like a steal compared to a Cayman GT4 because it certainly doesn't feel slightly cheaper, less special in the corners, or less attractive.

The other four-pot Caymans will live on, and they still serve a purpose. They offer a world-class chassis for your money, especially in Singapore, where tax laws favour a 2.0-litre engine. But to drive this GTS is to fall in love with it and rediscover what we've been missing.

Splurge more for the road tax, and relive your youth in this.

The sports car choice has always been a battle between your head and your heart. With the GTS, the Cayman marries both, ensuring that it climbs back to the top of your wish list.

The only question that remains now is, what colour would you like yours in?

Technical Specifications

Porsche 718 Cayman GTS

Engine: 3,995cc Flat-6
Power: 394bhp
Torque: 430Nm
Gearbox: 7-Speed PDK (A)
0-100km/h: 4 seconds
Top Speed: 293 km/h
Fuel Economy: 9.9km/litre
Price: POA (accurate at the time of this article)
Contact: Porsche Singapore
Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)