Cayman with more bite

The Cayman GTS is slightly faster, more powerful and longer than its sibling.
The Cayman GTS is slightly faster, more powerful and longer than its sibling.PHOTOS: CHRISTOPHER TAN, PORSCHE
The Cayman GTS is slightly faster, more powerful and longer than its sibling.
The Cayman GTS is slightly faster, more powerful and longer than its sibling.PHOTOS: CHRISTOPHER TAN, PORSCHE

Porsche's mid-engined two-seater is sharper, quicker yet more driveable in GTS guise

Would you pay nearly $50,000 more for a car that is 0.3 seconds quicker and 2kmh faster than another that is almost identical to it? Porsche believes you will.

Which is why it made the Cayman GTS, the latest GTS-fettered car to arrive here.

You can tell the car is a GTS because it is adorned with the three letters - which stand for Gran Turismo Sport - here, there and everywhere.

There are other differences, most of them minor. Except for the front section, which has a modified spoiler lip that adds 30mm to the Cayman's length.

Now, 30mm may not sound like much, but it does make the car a bit more distinctive in the metal than the other Caymans.

It also wears bigger wheels and sits 10mm closer to the tarmac.

Equipped with Sport Chrono (Porsche's go-faster package), the slightly longer and lower Cayman GTS clocks a 4.6-second century sprint - 0.3 seconds quicker than the Cayman S.

It maxes out at 283kmh, or 2kmh more than what the Cayman S is capable of.

Again, those numbers may not seem material, but they add up to a car that requires a little less effort to drive. Fine-tuning of the same engine that powers the Cayman S has resulted in a creamier, more linear delivery.

The car also comes with dynamic transmission mounts. These little widgets allow more leeway when the car is at a leisurely cruise, and stiffen up suitably when it is driven with verve. So you get comfort when you want it and sportiness when you need it. But you need to switch to Sport or Sport-Plus drive modes for the latter to happen.

Along with active suspension, which is also standard issue with the GTS, the two-seater is noticeably more delicate when going over humps, and as hard as nails when attacking corners.

This makes the Cayman - which is already inherently more stable than the rear-engined 911 - an absolute joy on the go.

At the wheel and nestled in one of the most comfortable and supportive sports seats around, you feel one less degree of separation from the road. As a result, the Cayman GTS is a tad more point-and- shoot than its lesser twins.

Perhaps that is reason enough to fork out the extra dough for it. The minute improvements in acceleration and top speed are cherries on the icing.

Another cherry might be its sonorous exhaust. Left to its own devices, the car is capable of a pretty sporty symphony, especially when you are heavy-footed.

But when you hit a button marked by a pair of bugle-like tailpipes, the sounds are amplified.

It is entertaining up to a point. After that, it becomes a little pretentious and forced, especially when you are not driving with any particular urgency. It is, however, not as exaggerated as Maseratis, which tend to sound like they are tearing up the tarmac even when they are moving gingerly into a parking space.

Of course you do not have to test the Traffic Police's $2.5-million suite of new digital speed cameras to prove you are driving a rarefied Cayman. The GTS has a few minor cosmetic differences which add up to make a car that is immediately special even when it is standing still.

Aside from its slightly longer and lower profile, it has smoked bi-xenon headlights and a modified rear body apron. And in your pocket, you have a key finished in the car's body colour.

The only other improvement Porsche could have made was to have a pair of real steering-mounted paddles. They would have made manual shifting a lot easier than the rather obscure shift tabs in use now.

It would definitely have made the $50,000 price premium a lot more palatable. And brakes that do not squeal would be nice too.

christan@sph.com.sg