First Drive

2014 Porsche Cayman GTS UK first drive

Can the five-star Porsche Cayman really be made any better? We drive the new GTS model to find out.

Words ByRory White

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Given the standard Cayman's huge breadth of ability, the idea that it could be made even better to drive seems scarcely believable. Porsche doesn't agree though – and for those who want the ultimate Cayman, there's now the GTS.

The recipe is as follows: take a standard Cayman S and its 3.4-litre flat six engine, tweak it to produce an extra 15bhp and 7lb ft of torque, fine-tune its handling for an even sharper driving experience, and then add more aggressive spoilers and standard performance-enhancing equipment.

Included in the price is Porsche's Sport Chrono package and Active Suspension Management (PASM), giving you more control over both the car's throttle response and its dampers.

Alternatively, for no extra cost, you can do away with adjustable dampers and go for the optional Sport Chassis, lowering the ride height by 20mm for a more track-focused set-up. A rorty sports exhaust, which can be turned down if you wish, is also standard.

It's a seriously desirable driver's package, then, but is the GTS still a handling benchmark and worth the Β£7000 premium over the standard Cayman S?

What’s the 2014 Porsche Cayman GTS like to drive?

This is likely to be the most important question for any Cayman buyer, and one that can be answered with a huge grin and one word: superb.

You're unlikely to notice the extra torque when accelerating hard from a rolling start in gear; the GTS feels as good as the S on the road, but not much different in this respect. What you do notice is the extra power as the rev-counter gets up towards the screaming redline. It's not significant, but it's there, accompanied by the howl of the GTS's sports exhaust.

Our test car was fitted with Porsche's wonderfully slick, precise six-speed manual gearbox, which is standard (for an extra Β£2351 you can have a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic). The gearlever's short throw and perfect position mean you always have complete confidence in using it.

Standard Sport Chrono means the choice of three drive modes - Normal, Sport and Sport Plus. This changes the character of the car and also brings with it active engine mounts that further improvethe way the GTS deals with sharp direction changes.

In truth, even in its most relaxed setting the GTS is a superb car to drive, but Sport Plus, with its enhanced throttle response and rev-match function (which blips the engine automatically as you change down a gear) really turns things up a notch; you can't resist driving the GTS with serious vigour. The steering is beautifully weighted and accurate, while the dampers in Sport mode keep the body impressively flat, even through fast, tight bends.

Everything happens in one fluid action. The front-end bites hard when turning in, you're able to balance the car easily on the throttle throughout the corner and fire yourself out of the other side with huge amounts of traction. It's really addictive stuff.

Even the GTS's ride quality is impressive. It's firmer than a standard Cayman's, but it never crashes over sharp bumps, and stays pretty well settled across scarred Tarmac at lower speeds in town.

Refinement is good for a sports car, too. There's some tyre roar and engine noise in the cabin at a constant cruise, but wind noise is never an issue.

What’s the 2014 Porsche Cayman GTS like inside?

Just like the Caymans lower in the range, the GTS interior feels beautifully made, and the excellent driving position, compact dimensions and superb all-round visibility make it a genuinely useable everyday car.

The Cayman we tested came with the optional adaptive sports seats (Β£1914) which hold you tightly in place, but are still padded enough to be comfortable on longer journeys.

There are some niggles, however. The GTS might seem generously equipped, and therefore better value than the standard car, but in fact some of the additional items such as cornering headlights and a matt black body kit are superfluous, and you still have to fork out extra for more desirable kit like sat-nav (Β£2141), cruise control (Β£267) and a DAB radio (Β£324).

Even so, there's a generous amount of space for driver and passenger, and a surprising number of useful cubbies and cupholders. In fact, for a mid-engined sports car, the Cayman is actually quite practical, and can carry a combined 334-litres of luggage - more than a Ford Fiesta, though the Cayman's deep, box-shaped front storage well and shallow rear boot mean carrying bulky items will still be a problem.

Should I buy one?

The Cayman GTS costs Β£55,397, which makes it look like something of a bargain next to rivals such as the Jaguar F-Type V6 S at Β£60,250, and the Cayman certainly feels dynamically superior, too.

The decision as to whether you spend the extra on it over a Cayman S isn't so straightforward, because we think you could be more selective with the optional equipment and come out with a similarly epic car that costs a bit less than the GTS.

Even so, if you were to add all the extras that the GTS has to an S, you come close to its list price anyway, and that's without taking into consideration visual upgrades and handling tweaks that are unique to the GTS.

The bottom line is that any Cayman is sensational to drive, but the GTS puts itself even further out of reach of the rivals. If you can find the extra, do – you won't regret it.

What Car? says…

Rivals

BMW M4

Jaguar F-Type Coupe

Porsche Cayman 3.4 GTS manual

Engine size 3.4-litre flat-six petrol Price from Β£55,397 Power 335bhp Torque 280lb ft 0-62mph 4.9 seconds Top speed 177mph
Fuel economy 31.4mpg
CO2 211g/km