2015 Porsche Cayman Review

Hard-core sports car

The Porsche 718 Cayman GTS is more distinctly a sports car than grand tourer, and as a case in point, the lesser 718 Cayman S sampled in the past was a little more refined overall.

This GTS variant is raw for the sake of fun. But it remains a better car, more composed and capable than the model preceding it, which was powered by a naturally-aspirated horizontally-opposed six-cylinder, rather than the new car’s turbocharged four-cylinder boxer.

Don’t worry that there is no longer a flat six behind the cabin; press the button for the bi-modal exhaust and the howl from the turbocharged four-pot boxer will burst your eardrums by around the time the tacho needle is passing 4000rpm. Under lighter loads and at lower engine speeds it sounds much like an old Beetle engine with a twin-carb set-up.

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For those who miss the flat six, this engine harks back to the 356, which makes it a noteworthy tribute to the car that started the whole Porsche paradigm.

At cruising speeds road noise predominates in the cabin of the 718 Cayman GTS, but the warble of the flat four is also present, along with some whistling from the wind. As for lower speeds, the tyre noise just doesn’t let up on country bitumen and the Cayman is replete with mechanical noises of all kinds, not least of all the clanking as clutches engage and disengage in the dual-clutch PDK transmission.

All of that row signals that this is a car full of intent. Rip off a fast launch and the car is crabbing sideways at the rear on perfectly dry, high-grip bitumen. It’s a literal blast.

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PDK an asset

Funny thing about the Cayman GTS, you become aware of just how contrived the rawness is when the PDK shifts smoothly into the next gear up, without the driver lifting the foot off the accelerator.

Give the right paddle a quick yank as the engine approaches redline (just above 7000rpm) and the PDK does it all for you, almost clairvoyantly. If you have the accelerator pedal nailed and the revs are already above 5000rpm the PDK will hold the gear right through to redline before changing up, irrespective of whether you’ve called for a higher gear earlier or later in the rev range.

And it doesn’t take many seconds for the needle in the tacho to reach the redline if you’re in lower gears and driving the Cayman forcefully.

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Essentially, the PDK in the Cayman GTS delivers a balance of operating parameters – with some of the hallmarks of automated kick-down when the driver is using the transmission manually. It won’t shift up at the redline without the driver signalling the need to do so by using the shift paddle, which turns with the wheel.

Quite simply, this is an excellent, responsive system that hands you gears when you want it – and with little of the aggressive anti-shift shock other brands feel has to be built into their self-shifting transmissions.

The spread of torque means the Cayman GTS will maintain speed on hills without undue downshifting, but to conserve fuel the PDK will hold gears down to 1500rpm at times and that does result in some unpleasant labouring vibration.

Fuel consumption was 11.9L/100km on a 60km test loop and 12.9 over the course of the week, including lots of heavy, grinding peak-hour traffic.

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Uncompromising ride

Around town, the ride quality of the Cayman GTS is moderately firm, even in Normal chassis mode. It’s a better option for country roads with underlying bumps in the surface. But the Normal mode does detract from the driving dynamics. It does feel a bit softer, whereas the Sport chassis mode is bearable over the rough stuff and body control is excellent, even over those less than ideal road surfaces.

It takes just two words to describe the handling and grip of the Cayman GTS: mighty good. The Porsche could iron out a double-apex bend near home and felt so utterly secure that I had no qualms about keeping the hoof into it. It handles flatly and steers responsively – with a tonne of feedback through the wheel for good measure. Even provoked with a flick and power-on, the Cayman GTS refused to step out wildly. In this regard it has certainly moved the game on from the 981 series.

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Brake pedal feel is outstanding and you can feed the brakes the precise amount of pressure to be right on the cusp of adhesion – eliciting mild protest from the front tyres without triggering the anti-lock braking system. They’re also strong brakes that will haul the Cayman GTS down from respectable speeds without any hint of trouble.

In the dry, at least, I rate this Cayman GTS a safer handling car with more grip than the 981 series that won ABDC back in 2015.

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Glitchy parking sensors

As a daily driver, the Cayman GTS is not quite in the same ballpark as its lesser stablemates. Many of the usability issues previously encountered in the 981 series have been addressed in the 718 series, but there remains at least one quirk in the Cayman GTS – phantom alarm states for the optional parking sensors (part of a $1690 package with the reversing camera).

These activated on a few occasions for no apparent reason, while the vehicle was standing in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The acoustic alarm would sound and the infotainment screen would display the ultrasonic sensors in alarm due to … what? An insect perhaps? There was nothing in immediate proximity to warrant it, so it’s one of those odd traits that’s not quite a glitch, but curious nonetheless.

But in every other respect the Cayman GTS is a very functional and comfortable package, particularly in light of its hard-core driving dynamics and performance. At night, the optional LED headlights ($2530 for Porsche Dynamic Light System) are fantastic on low beam, let alone with the intelligent high-beam assist facility operating.

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Killer seats

The optional adaptive sports seats ($3290) are very snug, yet comfortable too, and there’s just one gripe concerning the driving position: the brake pedal feels a little too close to the accelerator. That admittedly is fine for heel-and-toe, or left-foot braking in this PDK-equipped test vehicle, but it seems ever so slightly skewed to the right.

Having the big red-faced tachometer directly in front of the driver is perfect for those who demand to use the car’s available performance. The analogue speedo is located to the left in the instrument binnacle and it’s not especially easy to read, but there’s a digital read-out in the base of the tacho.

The upholstery proved to be lovely and warm for the final week of autumn in Melbourne and the heated steering wheel is almost overkill – it only needs to be switched on for a few minutes to take the chill out of the rim. Luggage space is limited, but it’s big enough for a weekend away.

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There were some odd rattles and squeaks heard in the cabin during the week-long stay; that may be testament to a hard working life, although the test vehicle had only covered 2200km when we handed it back to Porsche.

But it’s easy to overlook and forgive issues like that, provided the dealer can resolve them to the owner’s satisfaction. With a car like the Cayman GTS, as stylish, comfortable and functional as it is – quite at home with daily use – it’s out on winding country roads where it shines.

More than most cars, this one makes average drivers look and feel good.

>How much does the 2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS cost?

Price: $208,890 (as tested, plus on-road costs)

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol

Output: 269kW/430Nm

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch

Fuel: 8.3L/100km (ADR Combined); 12.9L/100km (as tested)

CO2: 188g/km (ADR Combined)

Safety rating: TBA

Source : https://www.motoring.com.au/porsche-cayman-gts-2018-review-113296/

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