The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder
Subtle changes add up to big improvements
Pros
High-revving, naturally aspirated engine
Poised road holding
Vaguely practical
Cons
Brake pedal has some dead travel
Gearbox can be stubborn when shifting down to second
Expensive options – and there are lots of them

Porsche Cayman GTS review (2014-on)

The best sports car for under £60,000 just got better

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Porsche Cayman GTS

What is the Porsche Cayman GTS?

The Cayman is a two-seat coupé that drivers may consider over a BMW M4 or Jaguar F-type coupé, and the GTS is the most expensive, powerful and fastest model in the Cayman range.

Like the Boxster GTS roadster, this is a car for drivers who believe that the best roads are empty ones, and are prepared to set their alarm clock for the day’s first birdsong just so they can get a clear run on their favourite stretch of blacktop.

The Cayman GTS costs from £55,397 (a Boxster GTS starts at £52,879) and is based on the Cayman S model, which sets you back just £48,783. What’s changed to justify the price hike?

Its 3.4-litre, flat-six-cylinder engine has slightly more power and torque over a Cayman S, and it comes with PASM as standard (Porsche’s active suspension system) and 20 inch wheels and tyres. Porsche’s Sport Chrono pack is also included, which adds a laptimer and active engine and gearbox mounts and may be of some benefit for drivers who take the car to a trackday and drive as if their trousers are on fire.

There’s are also some subtle styling tweaks inside and outside, primarily to signal to other Porsche Cayman drivers that you have worked hard, paid your dues and reach the top rung of the Cayman ladder. Well, that or you’ve won the lottery.

The appeal of the Cayman over the Boxster is that you have more luggage space, thanks to the liftback boot, and the body structure is stiffer, which helps improve the precision of the roadholding.

It’s easy to get carried away and spend a small fortune on the options that Porsche makes available for the Cayman GTS, so choose wisely or you could lose a lot of money as the car depreciates in value.


Browse the used Porsche Caymans on driving.co.uk


 

The drive

How good is the Cayman GTS to drive? Well, we’re struggling to think of many sports cars that cost under £100,000 and are as satisfying as this one.

After driving it back to back against a BMW M4 and Alfa Romeo 4C on a racing circuit, there was no contest. The accomplished handling of the GTS, the precise response from its controls and the measured power delivery of its naturally aspirated engine mean that at times it feels as though you’re judging the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra against the local school band.

Porsche Cayman GTS rear view

The GTS weighs 1,345kg (75kg less than the Boxster) and feels planted on the road. The suspension has a firm edge to the ride comfort around town (our test car came with the sports suspension pack, a no-cost option that lowers the ride height by an extra 10mm over the existing PASM model, itself already 10mm lower than a Cayman S) but comes into its own on a winding road or race track, delivering the steely composure of a supermodel heading down a catwalk.

There’s a real feeling of harmony – that all four-tyres are gripping the road in equal measure no matter how hard you push through a bend or how quickly the driver asks the car to change direction.

Helping its cause as a lean, mean driving machine is how clearly it communicates to the driver the tyres’ remaining levels of grip, through the steering and seat of their pants.

This package is complemented by Porsche’s signature flat-six-cylinder, naturally-aspirated engine. What a pleasure to use an engine that’s naturally aspirated and calls for commitment to get the best from it. A BMW M4 uses turbos, and these result in so much torque that the chassis tends to be overwhelmed through bends. The Cayman GTS, on the other hand, builds power in a natural manner and beyond 5,000rpm the engine note will stand your hair on end.

It will power the Cayman from 0-62mph in 4.6s, which is slightly slower than a BMW M4. That lack of torque, or flexibility, is sometimes noticeable in the the low and middle of the rev range, though.

There are one or two niggles, such as a brake pedal that – in traditional Porsche fashion – needs a firm shove to haul down your speed for bends. It’s a trait that works well on a track, but feels disconcerting around town. And the ratios for the smooth-shifting six-speed gearbox are too tall; another gear (like the 911’s seven-speed unit) or shorter ratios would help the engine pick up its heels on winding roads.

 

The interior

Porsche Cayman GTS interior

Unlike the Boxster GTS, there is no evidence of any squeaking or rattles from the interior. It looks and feels well made and is special enough to justify the car’s price.

Our test car came with optional bucket racing seats, which cost £1914 and made getting in and out a pain. Better to save the money and stick with the already excellent standard seats. You sit low to the floor, and the view out of the front resembles that of a Le Mans racing car. Ahead is a red rev counter with the GTS insignia, a three-spoke sports steering wheel and to the right sits an information display that can tell the driver how many G they’re pulling around a bend, or when to shift up to the next gear.

It’s slightly more practical than a Boxster, as the liftback boot opens to reveal a respectable boot and the ability to place soft bags or suit and dress carriers over the engine cover. But even when allowing for the front boot area as well, the Cayman is nowhere near as practical as a BMW M4.

Our test car came with a number of options that illustrate why Porsche has become one of the most profitable car companies in business. A digital radio is a £324 option. Ceramic composite brakes set you back £4977 – yet the standard steel discs are excellent. If you want to carry a child car seat, then ISOFIX mounts for the passenger seat are £122. The torque vectoring system and mechanical limited slip differential is £890 and the full infotainment system with navigation is £2,141. And that’s before we get to the Carmine Red paint of our car – £1595. Ouch.

 

The one to buy

Porsche Boxster GTS

 

2014 Porsche Cayman GTS specifications

  • Price: From £55,397 (correct at first publication)
  • Engine: 3436cc, flat-six cylinder petrol
  • Power: 326bhp @ 7400rpm
  • Torque: 280 lb ft @ 4750-5800rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph in 4.6sec
  • Top speed: 177mph
  • Fuel: 31.4mpg (combined)
  • CO2: 211g/km
  • Road tax band: K (£285 a year)
  • Dimensions: L 4404mm, W 1801mm, H 1273mm

 

Porsche Cayman GTS rivals