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“Sacrilege!” cried enthusiasts when Porsche announced that the new Porsche 718 Cayman wouldn't be available with a flat-six engine. And they had a point. Ever since the original Cayman hit the scene back in 2006, its crowning jewel was Porsche's howling, atmospheric six-cylinder motor, which was glorious in both its 2.7 and 3.4-litre configurations.
However, if you’re still caught up in mourning the loss of a great engine, you’re missing the huge strides that were made with the introduction of the new 718 Cayman. Not only does it offer one of the best chassis that money can buy, but also the new turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine is beautifully flexible and delivers performance that feels perfectly proportioned to fast and flowing B-roads.
All of which means that short of reuniting the car with half a dozen high-revving cylinders, this new range-topping GTS should be the best 718 Cayman yet. For around £8000 more than the standard 718 Cayman S, it gets a tweaked version of the same 2.5-litre flat-four, detailed changes to its chassis and a host of aesthetic changes, including black plastic skirting, dark 20in alloys borrowed from the pricier Porsche 911 Carrera S, tinted lights and an Alcantara interior trim.
Will these changes enhance or compromise an already highly polished package? We've been driving the GTS on UK roads to find out.
2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS on the road
Despite our route holding a jarring mix of potholes, cracked surfaces and stone-peppered surfaces, the GTS tackled them all with remarkable composure. With Sport Plus driving mode activated and the dampers slackened (via a button on the centre console), it covers ground at a rate that would trouble the 911 Carrera, such is the suspension’s ability to soak up battered bitumen.
This is a truly remarkable feat, especially when you consider that the GTS rides 10mm lower than the standard S (20mm lower if you go for the Sports Chassis option) and on hefty 20in wheels.
Factor in a new mechanical limited-slip differential that allows you to confidently tease the 718 Cayman into a rear-led stance on the exit of second and third-gear corners and you have a package that is more engaging and entertaining than plenty of performance cars that cost twice as much.
Without testing the GTS back to back with the S, it's rather difficult to determine just how much quicker the new model is in a straight line; after all, increases of 15bhp in power and 7lb ft in torque are respectable but not headline-grabbing gains. What is immediately noticeable, though, is that the engine’s power delivery is more linear, thanks to the tweaked turbocharger.
In Sport driving mode, the engine is wonderfully responsive from low revs and immensely flexible in the middle of its rev range, with no discernable flatspots. And despite the fact that it still sounds somewhat industrial, the larger air intake at least generates a more tuneful sound. Oh, and that aforementioned increased in torque is also especially useful, too, because it not only mitigates the effects of the car’s overly long gearing, but also gives you more opportunity to exploit one of the most biddable chassis on sale today.
So really, the only choice you need to make when speccing your GTS is whether you go for a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The automatic is astonishingly quick at swapping cogs and drops the car's 0-62mph time by 0.3sec (from 4.6sec for the manual), but the manual is 30kg lighter and has one of the most accurate and satisfying throws of any lever around. We know what we’d pick.
2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS interior
For that extra £8000, GTS buyers are also treated to a beautifully finished interior that perfectly compliments the 718 Cayman's sportier exterior. The pair of black, electrically adjustable and Alcantara-trimmed sports seats are fantastically supportive, while the Alcantara-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel and similarly wrapped gearknob are easy to grip.
All GTS models come as standard with the Sport Chrono package, which adds not only the iconic stopwatch to the top of the dashboard, but also a small rotary dial on the steering wheel for selecting the various driving modes. The GTS also gets Porsche's Communication Management infotainment system with its 7.0in touchscreen as standard. This is quick and logically laid-out, if not quite as intuitive to use as the rotary controlled systems of Audi and BMW.
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