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Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 PDK Review: Almost The Perfect Sports Car

Porsche re-introduces back natural aspiration and two more cylinders to the GTS, and it makes all of the difference.
James Wong
James Wong
09 Nov 2023
It’s a perfect handler and superbly balanced, the pace commanded through sweet steering feel and the impeccable PDK gearbox, while riding no firmer than a Golf GTI… It’s just perfect.
What we like:
Perfect handling, ride and poise - what more do you want?
4.0 NA - can't argue against that
Old-school interior is perfect
What we dislike:
Engine sound is a little synthesised
Long gearing not quite suited for our roads

To understand the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0, one must first rewind the clocks back to when the 718 was first launched. Created as a homage to the classic 718 with a four cylinder boxer engine, it debuted with four cylinders for the first time in the basic and S models - all turbocharged.

Needless to say, reception to these downsized engines was mixed. They didn’t just lose the six-cylinder howl, they also stopped being naturally aspirated. Yes, they were quicker, but at what cost?

The GTS models also adopted the 2.5-litre fours. However, to everyone’s relief, the 718 GT4 and Spyder which made their debut later retained naturally aspirated six cylinder Boxer engines.

Everyone thought that was it, but Porsche surprised everyone by announcing that the GTS models would also adopt the same 4.0-litre NA from the GT4/Spyder, albeit detuned. What a move! It instantly won the favour and approval of enthusiasts yet again. Although it does mean that to access that well-loved drivetrain, one had to buy at least a GTS, for the base and S models continued on with the turbo fours. Win some, lose some, I guess.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we ended up with a Cayman GTS with a huge natasp engine (for the times, at least).

Wunderbar! So how does the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 drive?
I mean, do I even need to review this thing? It’s a perfect handler and superbly balanced, the pace commanded through sweet steering feel and the impeccable PDK gearbox, while riding no firmer than a Golf GTI… It’s just perfect.

However, it’s a bit churlish to say so but it has to be said: while the engine is great and definitely my pick over the old 2.5 four, it sounds a little odd. It’s not a screamer as you’d expect ‘4.0’ and ‘NA’ to be like, but more a mix of the old 2.5 sound with some turbo boom overlaying (despite having no turbo). I’m sure an aftermarket exhaust should fix it. And who am I to judge when Porsche has worked so hard to put a NA engine in the GTS, when most other manufacturers don’t even bother anymore?

Another point that shows itself more with the 4.0 is the long gearing, which can sometimes catch the engine off its powerband. For the sort of speeds we do in Singapore, some corners even require shifting into 1st. But I’m sure given the space, the long gearing would make more sense.

What is the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0’s 0 to 100 km/h timing?
With PDK, the 0-100 km/h timing is 4.0 seconds. For comparison, the 2.5-litre version of the last GTS did the 0-100 km/h sprint in 4.1 seconds, which is a tad slower.

How is the interior of the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0?
It suits me very well, because there aren’t many new fangled touch screen things or haptic thingamajigs. It’s a simple, functional interior that has everything you need and nothing you don’t. Absolutely brilliant. There are actually buttons, and buttons that feel good to press.

To some, it may look a little aged now, especially those very used to big LCD theatre screens in their cars. I’d advise ditching those screens for a moment and savour greatness.

Does the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 have a turbo?
No, and that’s the beautiful thing isn’t it? Porsche went heavy downsizing when it launched the 718, giving the GTS a 2.5-litre turbo boxer four-cylinder, which just didn’t feel right. It seemed Porsche agreed, retired its four pot and then gifted us with a 4.0-litre 6-cylinder naturally aspirated boxer in the new GTS. Porsche must be one of the very few manufacturers out there that has actually upsized its engines in newer generations, rather than downsizing. Take the latest Cayenne S as an example, which switched from a 2.9 V6 to a 4.0 V8.

Is the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 better than the 718 Cayman GTS 2.5?
Alluded to above, the answer is a resounding yes. The drivetrain is much closer to what we expect a GTS to be, although everything else does feel very similar (credit to the GTS 2.5 here). Also, the 4.0 is quite a bit better than the 981 Cayman GTS as well in terms of steering feel and handling, but the older car does beat it in the sound department.

Is the 718 or 911 faster?
You first have to define which variants - if it’s the 718 Cayman GTS or 992.1 GTS, then there is no fight really, as the 911 is turbocharged. The 911 will be faster in a straight line. I’m not so sure if it’s a tight, twisty track though, as the mid-engined 718 will be more balanced and undoubtedly lighter on its feet.

What’s the verdict?
The 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 is Porsche’s rude finger to emissions and noise regulations - and we’re all better for it.

Photos by James Wong


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