25 Nov 2014

2014 Porsche Cayman GTS Review

Matt Hubbard drives the Porsche Cayman GTS on track at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone

Porsche Cayman GTS
Porsche Cayman GTS

Since I was young I've almost idolised the Porsche 911. To me it was the definitive sports car in terms of looks, performance and balance between road and track use. Last year I drove a 911 Turbo and was blown away by it.

Recently I drove a 911 Carrera 2S and was again blown away by its handling, poise and agility but also its ability to be the best sports car on road and track.

But then I drove the Cayman GTS at the same track on the same day. For all my love for the 911 the Cayman GTS proved to be the better car on the day. Oh dear. Dreams not exactly shattered but certainly slightly disturbed.

I'd previously driven the standard Cayman. It was fast and handled magnificently, the chassis and seats were firm and the manual gearbox's ratios were a bit long for the road but ultimately I said it was, "...balanced, focussed, confidence inspiring, practical and fun."

The Cayman costs £40k, the Cayman S costs £49k and the Cayman GTS costs £55,397. You may think that hike is a bit steep but, to put things into perspective, the 911 C2S costs £83k and the Jaguar F-Type V6 S costs £60k.  Even a VW Golf R with a few options can cost as much as the base model Cayman.  In that context it's a bit of a bargain.

The GTS is essentially a fully optioned S. It is powered by a 3.4 litre boxer engine and produces 336bhp (15bhp more than in the S). The gearbox in the test car was a 6-speed manual.

Other goodies include 20 inch alloys, PASM as standard, Sport Chrono with adaptive engine mounts, sports seats, a sports exhaust and bi-xenon lights. Oh, and a new spoiler and steering wheel.
Porsche Cayman GTS
Porsche Cayman GTS

Fire up the engine and it barks into life. Porsche engines sound ├╝ber Germanic (if that is yet a thing) and the GTS's exhaust note, aided by the active exhaust, makes a lovely, crisp noise.

The driving position is perfect for most heights and shapes. The seats are body hugging, legs are outstretched and the steering wheel is in the driver's lap.

The gearstick sits in just the right place, atop a busy centre console with buttons for the various driving modes aft and the climate controls fore - see my Cayman review for a more thorough explanation of the infoscreen and driving modes.

What we're interested in here is the driving experience.

It starts with a heavy clutch. Not too heavy it'd be a pain in traffic but heavy enough you know the Cayman GTS means business.  A sturdy clutch for track abuse - good oh!

The gearbox is slick and accurate, and has a bolt-action feel. Porsche makes the best manual gearboxes in the business, and the GTS's is no exception.

The steering is light but can be firmed up by selecting Sport mode. It's electrically assisted but feel and feedback has been tuned in by some of the best engineers in the world, and it shows.

Pull away and the engine feels lively. Low speed manoeuvring is a piece of cake.  Mash the throttle and acceleration is very quick. If such a thing exists the engine has character - some engines feel lifeless whilst some feel fast but a bit too binary, the 3.4 flat-6 in the GTS provides meaty, analogue power in a big woosh of noise and torque.
Porsche Cayman GTS
Porsche Cayman GTS

0-60 takes around 4.7 seconds which is fast but not brutal. The engine note rises like a heavy metal solo to a peak at 7,500rpm, change up and start again.

Find a corner and the Cayman turns in like a dream. The steering is the sharpest and most direct there is. The engine in the Cayman sits behind the passengers and ahead of the rear axle. This makes for the poise of a ballet dancer as the rear faithfully follows the front round an apex with a hint of lean on the rear tyres.

It is a flattering car in the same way a Lotus is, but whereas you'd be sweating buckets after 20 laps in an Exige S you're ready for 20 more in the GTS.

Of course you should drive it properly to extract the most from the Cayman GTS but cack it up and the PSM (Porsche Stability Management) takes over and sorts things out.

You can drive lap after lap, improving your lines, leaving the braking later and acceleration earlier and the GTS remains neutral. It never throws a spanner in the works, staying faithfully accurate at every turn.

I normally stay dead silent when at the wheel on a race track but I was chattering away to my bewildered passenger - such is the measure of the car, it's confidence inspiring and allows you to use more brainpower to drive it than worry about what it might do next.

The 911 is a similarly finely-tuned track weapon but the Cayman GTS is marginally more tolerant and easier to drive due to its superior balance (the engine not being in the boot) and as such rewards the driver more.

The Porsche Cayman GTS is one of those rare beasts - a car that is more than the sum of its parts. A Cayman S with all the options the GTS has as standard costs £55k but the GTS is a much better car.

It is the best new sports car in 2014.

Stats:

Price - £55,397
Engine - 3.4 litre, flat-6, petrol
Transmission - 6-speed manual
0-62mph - 4.9 seconds
Top speed - 177mph
Power - 336bhp
Torque - 280lb ft
Economy - 31.4mpg
CO2 - 211g/km
Kerb weight - 1,345kg
Porsche Cayman GTS
Porsche Cayman GTS

Porsche Cayman GTS
Porsche Cayman GTS

By Matt Hubbard