New BMW M2 vs Porsche Cayman GTS
These fire-breathing sports cars are the last of their kind – so, which one should you give a home to before its extinction?...
NEW BMW M2 3.0 manual
List price £66,090
Target Price £64,490
The latest iteration of BMW M division’s entry-level model packs more power than ever, plus it’s cheaper to buy than its Porsche rival and has two more seats
Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 manual
List price £75,575
Target Price £75,575
Our 2024 Sports Car of the Year has a glorious engine and sweet handling, plus it’s considerably lighter than the M2. Are those things enough to offset its power deficit?
Back when CDs first arrived and looked like consigning vinyl records to the history books, purists feared losing the warmth and honesty of sound that they were used to.
Today, it’s sports cars that are about to undergo far-reaching changes. The next Porsche Cayman will be fully electric, and this new BMW M2 is the last purely combustion-engined car we’ll see from the brand’s M division.
So, this is your last chance to enjoy either car in their traditional forms, with brawny six-cylinder engines and six-speed manual gearboxes. Regardless of the winner, this will be a fond farewell.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
Both cars are seriously rapid, with the M2 sprinting from 0-60mph in 4.5sec and the Cayman taking 4.3sec. They’re both effortless to drive at low speeds, but the M2’s turbocharged power is delivered sooner, and it comes in one big thump. While the Cayman’s engine needs winding up, though, its linear delivery is more rewarding.
The Cayman sounds better, too. Its engine – located behind the occupants – breathes in with a throaty sound and the higher-pitched exhaust note provides a fantastic sense of theatre. The M2 is quite vocal, too. However, it sounds rather gruff in the more cultured Cayman’s company.
The fact that you change gear the old-fashioned way in both cars brings a level of interaction that can’t be matched by rivals that have just two pedals, and the Cayman leads once again in this regard. The M2’s gearshift is quite pleasant to use, with an action that isn’t too long, but it can be a bit notchy and doesn’t like to be rushed. While the hefty clutch pedal in the Cayman requires a bit more effort, its more tightly sprung gearlever has a more precise action and is a joy to use.
The two are different, too, when it comes to the way they steer. The M2’s lighter, quicker steering makes it an easy car to guide along a twisty country road, but the Cayman’s meatier, more precise set-up offers a more intimate connection to the front wheels. It’s easy to tell how much grip is available (the limit is very high), giving you greater confidence to push hard. While both cars resist body lean extremely well, the M2’s extra height and weight can be felt when turning in to bends; it feels a touch less poised.
Neither car can be faulted when it comes to braking; in each, the middle pedal summons a reassuringly powerful and immediate response that brings them to a smooth stop.
The Cayman has the comfier ride; stick with the softer of the two settings available from its adaptive suspension and it deals with bumps remarkably well. The M2, meanwhile, is relatively lumpy at low speeds and struggles to settle down as you up the pace.
Where noise is concerned, while the decibel readings between the two cars are close at both 30mph and 70mph, there are some noticeable benefits of the M2’s more conventional layout when it comes to cruising. True, traces of wind and suspension noise still filter through, but its engine being isolated away up front means much less of its noise reaches occupants than in the Cayman. The latter’s engine also introduces a noticeable amount of vibration and droning when it switches to fuel-saving three-cylinder mode.
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