2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 review: Easy A
There was nothing wrong with that, really. But from the moment I start the engine, this new one feels just … right. Something about the sound of a naturally aspirated flat six coming to life behind me reflexively releases an extra amount of serotonin into my brain. It’s an almost Pavlovian reminder that life is about to get a little better.
- Sweet power of six dishes
- Excellent handling
- All the best options are standard
I do not like
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Porsche’s 718 GTS 4.0 models are a kind of mea culpa, a remedy for the wrongs of the past. The old GTS used a turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-4, and while it was a perfectly powerful engine with plenty of low-end torque, it lacked the personality and linear power delivery of a free-breathing flat-six. It didn’t even sound half as good.
The new 4.0-liter engine is borrowed from the 718 Spyder e, weakened to produce 394 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque. Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch gearbox is available, but I can’t imagine driving one without the standard six-speed stick. Yes, the manual GTS is half a second slower in the dash from 0 to 60 mph, but I honestly don’t care.
This car is alone. So good. The clutch pedal is perfectly weighted and there is great tactile feedback when I shift into each gear. The 4.0-liter is happy to run in its mid-range, but comes alive above 6,500rpm and you can almost hit 8,000rpm before a quick shift to the next gear. The power, the sound, the all-encompassing experience … Yes, that turbo-four was fine and all, but this 4.0-liter is a damn catch.
Porsche’s GTS models are great because they come standard with all the performance options you really want. This starts with the PASM Sport adaptive shock absorbers (for Porsche Active Suspension Management), which are stiffer and place the car 20 millimeters lower than the ground. The GTS features Porsche torque vectoring differential and mechanical locking for better power distribution between the rear wheels. The larger brakes are located behind the standard 20-inch wheels, and the sports exhaust on the GTS is the same as you’ll find on the GT4.
All of these updates only improve on the already brilliant 718 chassis. The Cayman squats as it plunges into a turn and I can hear exactly what is happening at street level through the wonderfully communicative steering. Quick reflexes are paired with unflappable balance, and the 4.0-liter flat 6’s predictable power delivery makes me push harder.
Yet despite the common engine, I hesitate to call the GTS a GT4 Touring. Where is theis a more livable version of the full-fat GT3, the 718 GTS feels like a standard Cayman with an extra dose of espresso. It is the difference between “good” and “almost exceptional”. The GTS is truly a step forward rather than a gentle exercise in restraint.
Just like all good Caymans, driving the GTS every day is no chore. Even with the PASM Sport suspension, it’s compliant enough to run errands around town and is also a respectable highway cruiser. The EPA says the Cayman GTS 4.0 will return to 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24mpg on the freeway with the manual gearbox, which falls somewhere between “meh” and “ugh”. But it’s not like anyone buys them for their fuel economy, anyway.
Other GTS goodies include colorful front and rear lights, black exterior accents, and the Sport Design exterior package, all of which are pretty subtle changes. For $ 3,690, you can pick up the GTS Interior Package, with carmine red or chalk contrast stitching, plus a matching tachometer and seat belts. In addition to that, this package includes the GTS logos on the headrests, different floor mats and carbon fiber trims. Personally, I’d rather spend that money on other things, but hey, you do it. My test car also has leather upholstery ($ 2,160), a Bose sound system ($ 990), 18-way sports seats ($ 3,030), and built-in navigation ($ 2,320).
Sit inside a Cayman and you’ll remember it’s one of Porsche’s older models, with physical buttons along the center console instead of that fancy backlit panel. The 7-inch multimedia touchscreen is also showing its age, especially with the continued lack of, but if you are an iPhone user like me, it will work perfectly. Don’t forget, the Cayman GTS is also surprisingly functional, with enough hatch space for a pair of duffel bags and a decent-sized frunk for one or two extra backpacks.
Being a Porsche, none of this is cheap, but the 718 GTS 4.0 isn’t as ridiculous as one might expect. This Cayman kicks off at $ 88,150 including $ 1,350 for the destination, and you can keep the tested five-figure price tag while still getting some frivolous add-ons.
I won’t try to convince you that $ 90K is in any way a bargain, but this is the only Porsche I would ever need. There aren’t many sports cars I’d take over on a Cayman – including the 911 – and with the power of flat six, it’s a package that’s really hard to beat.