You may be asking – what constitutes a bargain, and at what level may one enter the often considered exclusive realm of Porsche motoring enjoyment? Both questions are of course relative to an individual’s perspective. Porsche has always been about options and personalization. Historically, everything checked off on the order list of a new Porsche incurs an extra cost. Nothing is free, but you get what you pay for. Porsche has also always been about achieving excellence in the vehicles that it produces. Let’s answer the second question first – Porsche’s entry level is now represented by two vehicles, one an open car, and the other, a coupe. The two-seat roadster representation is the 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS, and the coupe role is filled by the 2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS. The GTS designation is not a new one by the way, it first appeared on the 904 Carrera GTS in 1963.
Topless or Not
The 718 Cayman GTS starts at $79,800 while the drop top 718 Boxster GTS ups the ante another $2,100. Essentially, both cars are the same mechanically, powered no longer by a flat-six-cylinder motor, but rather by a 2.5-liter DOHC, 16-valve turbocharged flat four cylinder that produces 365 horsepower at 6,500 rpm along with 317 pound feet of torque in a range from 1,900 to 5,000 rpm. Both cars are rear-wheel drive, with the engine mid-mounted. Power is geared to the rear wheels by either a six-speed manual gearbox with a single-plate clutch and dual mass flywheel, and Porsche Torque Vectoring with a mechanical rear differential lock or, a seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (Porsche double clutch PDK) also with Porsche Torque Vectoring with a mechanical rear differential lock. The engine and exhaust notes are still enjoyable, particularly with Sports exhaust system, but they lack the authoritative throaty roar of the earlier flat six motor.
Now, to address the Value proposition – Porsche’s philosophy for GTS models is to add the performance features available on other models as options by packaging them with a modest power increase for a total price better than it would be to piece everything together individually. The starting prices of the Cayman and Boxster represent a value over comparably equipped S models. Mission accomplished.
Standard fare includes all the hardware an enthusiast would likely check off anyway: the Sport Chrono package, Sport exhaust, PASM adaptive dampers, Sport Seats Plus, brake-based Porsche Torque Vectoring, 20-inch wheels, and an interior with microsuede. Additionally, the turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four banger increases horsepower by15 relative to the S model Boxster and Cayman, raising the total to 365 horsepower at 6,500 rpm. Torque remains the same 309 lb-ft with the base six-speed manual transmission. Order the $3,730 seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission and an extra 8 lb-ft of torque is added. GTS models share gearing their S counterparts.
Added Power Source
The extra power comes from two sources: a turbocharger featuring an enlarged compressor wheel relative to that of the S model – increased in diameter in diameter from 64 to 67 millimeters, with the turbo’s cold side capable of efficiently providing more peak boost (18.1 psi versus 16.7). The turbo’s hot side uses the same Variable-Geometry Turbine design as the S models. In addition, there’s a redesigned, higher-volume intake manifold that incorporates four baffles that optimize airflow. The baffles look like restrictors at the intersection of the plenum and intake runners, and they allow proper filling of each cylinder’s combustion chamber at the higher boost levels that the engine achieves. According to Fabian Zink, Porsche’s powertrain manager for the 718 and the 911, without them, the added boost wouldn’t yield the full 15 horsepower.
Visually, the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS display the image of forward thrust, even when stationary due to a sharpened design language and black accents. The car’s tail serves up a clear contour that emphasizes its width and sporty attitude, thanks to the rear apron and centered black sports tailpipes. LED taillamps are tinted and the model designation logo appears in Black as well.
Up front, the enlarged air intakes are not only functional, but also add to the wide look. The front light units are tinted and the front air dam or spoiler and outer air blades are black as well. 20-inch alloy wheels finished in satin black hint at the performance of the 718 Cayman GTS.
The cabin is meticulously finished and showcases old world craftsmanship. Controls and switchgear are driver focused and easily accessible. The Sports seats Plus are a supportive blend of Alcantara and leather. Infotainment and connectivity are provided by Porsche Connect with a new Porsche Communication Management and Connect Apps and Sound Package Plus or, a BOSE® Surround Sound System optionally available.
Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) Rules
My test 2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS was equipped with the more desirable PDK automatic transmission – yes manual gearboxes are great, but the PDK is quicker and smoother. The exterior was sprayed Guards Red, while the interior was executed in Black. The base price was set at $79,800., which rose to $88,900. after factoring in optional features and equipmentn and the delivery, Processing and Handling Fee.
SUMMARY: Porsche is legendary – almost magical even, in producing the ultimate excellent vehicle each year and then then surpassing it with each subsequent year on every level. The 2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS makes an excellent case in that regard. It is better looking, more powerful, more efficient, more stable and more enjoyable to drive in virtually every scenario. What could be better? The 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS of course, and the 2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T. Unfortunately, I was unable to experience the 718 Boxster GTS during the national press introduction due to a time restraint, but I fell in love with the 718 Cayman GTS, however the 911 Carrera T managed to top it. That will be the subject of another review at a later date.
In the final analysis, the 718 Cayman GTS is an ideal entry level Porsche. It accelerates rapidly, stops as rapidly and handles as if on rails with an excellent on center steering feel. The ride quality is superb and the engine and exhaust notes are splendid. It is truly an outstanding value in the realm of Teutonic sports cars.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS
Base Price: $79,800.
Price as Tested: $88,900.
Engine Type and Size: 2.5-liter DOHC, 16-valve turbocharged flat four cylinder, water cooled with thermal management and switchable water pump, and VarioCam Plus camshaft control and valve-lift adjustment on intake and outlet side
Horsepower (bhp): 365 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 317 @ 1,90-5,000 rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed Porsche double clutch with Porsche Torque Vectoring with mechanical rear differential lock.
Drive Train: Mid-engine / Rear-wheel drive.
Suspension: Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with electronically controlled vibration dampers; steel springs with 10-mm lowering.
Front – Lightweight spring strut axle (McPherson type optimized for Porsche).
Rear – Lightweight spring strut axle (McPherson type, optimized for Porsche.
Brakes: Dual-circuit brake system with axle distribution; vacuum brake booster, brake assistant; electric duo- servo parking brake; hold function; multi-collision brake.
Front: Four-piston aluminum monoblock fixed-caliper brakes; vented and perforated grey cast iron brake rotors
Rear: Four-piston aluminum monoblock fixed-caliper brakes vented and perforated grey cast iron brake rotors.
Tires: Michelin 235/35 ZR 20 x 8.1 front / 265/35/ ZR 20 x 10.1Mounted on 10 spoke satin black alloy wheels
Wheelbase: 97.4 inches
Length Overall: 172.9 inches
Width: 78.5 inches – with mirrors.
Height: 50.6 inches
Curb Weight: 3,098 lbs.
Turning Circle: 36.0 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 16.9 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 20 mpg city / 26 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.32
0 – 60 mph: 3.9 seconds with Sport+
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.