Lacking serious competition, Porsche has owned the $50,000–$90,000 import sports car segment for a while with the Boxster and Cayman. The Jaguar F-type is a noisy glamour queen that lacks the Porsches’ lightness of touch, and the Alfa Romeo 4C is too raw. Acura missed an opportunity to offer us something like the 4C from a company that takes quality seriously, but alas, it massively overshot the mark with themegadollar NSX. So the Boxster and Cayman retain their monopoly over semiaffordable excellence.
The GTS appellation has become Porsche code for “options at a discount,” and indeed the Cayman GTS is no exception. You get more than a dozen Cayman S options—including Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), the Sport Chrono package, sport exhaust, and some interior dressings—for thousands less than what those items would cost on the regular-old S, plus 20-inch wheels and Pirelli P Zero summer tires that might be good for 15,000 miles. Oh, and 15 extra horsepower for an even 340, via the magic horsepower screw seemingly fitted to all Porsche engines.
The GTS doesn’t feel any faster, and indeed, it isn’t by much. With a six-speed manual that suffers an overly stiff clutch pedal, it pierces the 60-mph mark in 4.1 seconds and the quarter-mile in 12.5 seconds at 113 mph. That’s a tiny smidge quicker than the regular S; we’re happy to call it even, just so you understand that 15 horsepower doesn’t buy the moon.
Nor did the large Pirellis prove any great deal stickier than the Goodyear Eagle F1s on the S. Not that generating 1.04 g of grip on the skidpad is a problem, but it’s only a teeny bit more than the 1.03 we got with the Goodyears. Hey, call that one even, too, what with variations in surface temperatures or test drivers. We do prefer the feel provided by the Pirellis, especially on the track.
So, what have we got? Well, a car that—with optional baubles such as the $3680 GTS interior package, $3990 Bose entertainment system, and $1425 black-painted wheels—goes from a $76,195 base price to $95,265 with add-ons, just into 911 Carreraterritory. As Porsche’s mid-engine sprite, however, the Cayman offers tangible benefits over the 911, including a more garageable size and less bounding over pitching pavement.
As with all Porsches from Panamera to Cayenne, you sit next to a ramped center console with lots of buttons (or lots of blanks, if you’re light on the options). The GTS interior package buys embroidered logos, contrasting stitching, carbon trim, and silver accents, sprucing up the Cayman’s otherwise gloomy black cabin, but at a steep price. The leather/microsuede buckets fit perfectly, like a well-worn pair of Johnston & Murphys, and the only real objection is that heavy clutch pedal. Why a car with 340 horsepower demands tectonic force to move its pressure plate is a mystery when the clutch in the 526-hp Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 has a far more comfortable heft. The answer is that some Stuttgart somebody thinks sports cars should have heavy clutches, which is dumb.
It’s been a while since the Cayman took over as the prime Porsche for enthusiast drivers, the basic 911 evolving into a rather gigantic GT that is longer than the current Chevrolet Corvette. The GTS only reinforces the position with a samurai’s lightness on its feet, seeming to accelerate and turn as if it were 1000 pounds lighter than it is. It’s much closer to what we think an old 1970s 911 with paper-thin doors and pencil-thick pillars should feel like, although the GTS is far less squirmy on its modern, mongo rubber. It could almost be accused of being too capable, the cornering speeds reaching silly heights before the chassis even feels challenged. Sure, buy a McLaren to be a rock star, but get a Cayman if you just need to be someplace quickly and with a smile on your face. Direct, focused, and not flashy, this is the car James Bond would drive home after he parked that circus-prop Aston Martin at work at the end of the day.
The practically unobtainable GT4 version notwithstanding, the GTS is a slightly higher-proof distillation of the Cayman, which itself is now the purest distillation of what it means to be a Porsche. If you think you want to own a Porsche, you really owe it to yourself to drive this machine first, then decide how far from the essence of the brand you’re willing to stray with another model. Our guess is you won’t want to stray far.
Update 12/23: We tested this same individual car twice, in two different locations; our policy is to publish the quickest/best numbers in these instances, but the later, slower test data was reported in error. The story and specifications panel have been updated with the figures from the earlier test, and we've included both track sheets as downloads for comparison.
Original Source: http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2015-porsche-cayman-gts-manual-test-review