On the surface, it might seem like a curious decision on Porsche’s behalf to fit the new 718 Cayman GTS with the exact same 4.0-litre flat-six engine and manual gearbox as the wonderful GT4, then charge £11,260 less for the privilege – because at a stroke the GTS would appear to make the GT4 seem at the very least expensive, at worst virtually redundant.
But of course it’s not quite as simple as that. For starters, the GTS uses conventional suspension front and rear, whereas the GT4 rides on the same rather more sophisticated and focused rose-jointed suspension, lifted pretty much lock-stock from the 911 GT3.
Second, the GTS rides on far less sticky Pirelli P Zero tyres, whereas the GT4 comes on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s. Third, the GTS doesn’t have the aerodynamic addenda of the GT4, and that doesn’t just mean it misses out on the big rear wing of its more expensive brother; the GT4 also boasts a full underbody diffuser and, therefore, generates at least 100kg of extra downforce. So in theory the GTS is a rather less complex animal technically compared with the GT4.
Even so, at the core of the GTS really is the same engine that you get in the GT4, except for one small difference. In the GT4 the 4.0-litre flat six revs to 8,000rpm and produces a maximum of 414bhp and 420Nm. In the GTS, the rev cut out is set at 7,800rpm, which means power is slightly lower at 394bhp, although the peak torque remains identical, at 420Nm, with the same torque curve. So we really are talking about the same engine here, joined by the exact same six-speed manual gearbox, albeit with fractionally longer throws.
The steering is also the same, while the steel brakes are a touch smaller than those of the GT4, with carbon ceramics available as a £5,177 option. As standard, however, you get PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), Sport Chrono and the same three-stage switchable drive programme in the GTS, which can be altered by rotating a small dial on the bottom left of the steering wheel, just as in the latest 911.
And if you think that makes the GTS essentially a GT4-lite, think again. We’ve driven the GTS in many ways, and unless you push it right to the very edge, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between a GT4 and a GTS. The new, cheaper Cayman is that sharp, feels that quick and sounds that good; if you were blindfolded and sat in the passenger seat, I’m honestly not sure that you could tell which was which.
And the raw performance figures support this impression as well. The GTS is only 0.1 seconds slower from 0-62mph than the GT4 (4.5 seconds versus 4.4 seconds) while its top speed drops by just 4mph to 182mph. Big deal.
Fair enough, if you really lean on the GTS on turn-in and then load it up hard mid-corner you can notice a difference in ultimate response, especially from the front end. There’s also a bit less grip mid-corner, simply because the GTS’ tyres are neither as wide nor as trick in their tread pattern and compound as the GT4’s. But you need to be pushing very hard indeed to notice the differences, and if you specify the optional, but pricey, carbon ceramic brake discs – as our test car wore – the braking feels every bit as impressive in the GTS as it does in the GT4.
There are a few tweaks to the cabin to lift it above lesser-specced 718 Caymans. The Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel is dainty and beautiful to hold, while the padded but supportive sports seats grip you in all the right places. And to remind you of what you’re in, GTS badges litter the cabin.
Bottom line; for a whisker over £11,000 less, the GTS seems like a complete bargain beside the GT4, which itself seems like fine value beside its various rivals. Porsche has done it again, in other words, and produced a car that is entirely without competitors at this price point, except for the ones it makes in-house.