The Porsche Boxster and Cayman will forever nip at the heels of their big brother, the 911 Carrera, and perpetuating this tradition are the latest GTS variants, which add yet another arrow to the quiver of the plucky mid-engined platform.
The GTS’ performance enhancements boost horsepower by a mere 15 and shave a tenth from 0 to 60, but Porsche’s clever product planners and engineers have stuck to their familiar formula in making the Cayman GTS more desirable than the Boxster for dyed-in-the-wool performance enthusiasts. More on that shortly.
Laps around Spain’s Circuito Mallorca RennArena and the nearby Serra de Tramuntana mountain range would shed further light on how the GTS differentiates itself from lesser Caymans.
- While the 3.4-liter flat-six’s 340-horsepower output shows nominal gains over the S model (edging out the Boxster GTS by 25 hp), the Cayman GTS’ standard Sport Chrono package’s Sport+ setting enables the engine, transmission, and chassis to switch from responsive and agile to razor sharp and athletic. Without testing the GTS back-to-back against an S, it’s hard to gauge whether that tenth of a second from 0-60 is particularly noticeable – but our instinct says, “No.”
- There isn’t exactly gut-wrenching power down low, but to rev the Cayman’s six-cylinder to its 7,800-rpm power peak is to be won over with its eager pull and motivated grunt.
- Dropping the Boxster’s soft top opens up a new palette of engine sounds to satisfy your inner boy racer, and the GTS version of that model enhances that experience exponentially thanks to its retuned exhaust. But helping the hardtop’s argument is the first-ever implementation of the “Sound Symposer” in the lineup, which trickles down from the 911 and uses acoustic tuning to pipe engine intake sounds into the cockpit. The experience makes the Cayman and Boxster GTS feel even faster, and can be modulated using the Sport Exhaust button near the shifter. Best of all, you don’t have to drop the top to enjoy the enhanced auditory experience.
- The Cayman GTS has just about the most direct and immediate handling you’ll find on a production car, and you needn’t hit the track to be struck by its crystalline steering, glued-to-the-road feeling and intuitive responsiveness. Although the Boxster is quite stiff and feels very solid for a convertible, the Cayman GTS furthers that feeling of sharpness by virtue of its roof structure.
- Unless you indulge in amateur racing on a regular basis, the only reasons to opt for ceramic brakes are: (1) you’ve got massive amounts of money burning a hole in your wallet, and (2) you vehemently hate brake dust. The standard steel brakes work great, with excellent feel and imperceptible fade.
- Though damping rates are unchanged, the suspension has been dropped a nominal 10 millimeters, which looks a bit meaner and gives the GTS a more hunkered-down feel thanks to its lower center of gravity. Backed up with the adaptability (both manually and automatically) of PASM, the suspension manages to deliver a smooth ride over potholes, and tenacious grip on the track.
- Counterintuitively, Porsche charges more for the hardtop Cayman GTS than it does for its folding-topped counterpart: starting price is $75,200 – $79,160 for a PDK-equipped model – while the Boxster undercuts the coupe by $1,700 in both versions.
- As you might suspect, it’s virtually impossible to step into a Cayman for anywhere close to its base MSRP. Not only are the interior and trim temptations numerous (18-way sport seats, $3,025; infotainment with surround sound, $3,990; GTS trim with contrast stitching, $3,680), there are also opportunities for performance upgrades (torque vectoring, $1,320; ceramic brakes, $7,400). At least the GTS models bundle about $16,000 worth of goodies including PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), Sport Chrono package, sport exhaust, 20-inch wheels, PDLS (Porsche Dynamic Light System) and blacked-out trim for an $11,400 premium over the S version
The GTS is expensive, no doubt. But as a new flagship for the Cayman lineup, it delivers even more focused performance in a package that’s easy to live with every day. We can’t wait to see how much further Porsche pushes this platform, but until a higher-performance variant is released (one is rumored, possibly dubbed GT3 or GT4), the GTS offers the range’s sweetest spot between outright potency and daily comfort.