RONDA, Spain – Late last year a Cayman GTS featured in our Performance Shootout (January 2015 edition) and while it was not the most conspicuous and neither the quickest, nor most powerful contender, the Porsche saw off all comers thanks to its combination of power, poise and refinement.
The event took the form of a multi-day road trip with a brief stopover at Port Elizabeth’s Aldo Scribante racetrack, where we track tested all the cars, except for the Porsche. The local firm’s subsidiary doesn’t sanction its products for track use, which is unfortunate. And that is precisely why I made a beeline for the gleaming red Cayman GTS parked in the pitlane of the Ascari Race Resort.
Quick AND entertaining?
At the 2015 Performance Shootout I experienced how quick the Cayman GTS is in a straight line. In testing it repeatedly matched the company’s claimed performance figures. And in head-to-head drag races it showed its rivals a clean pair of tail pipes. You can watch those videos by clicking here.
What I DIDN’T experience however was a lap driven in anger; I was behind the wheel for some photography on track, but that doesn’t really count, which is why the prospect of giving the small mid-engined sportscar a full go in a proper arena was too good to resist.
Full tilt in a nature reserve
Ascari Race Resort is one of the finest tracks in the world. Not only is it technically demanding, but it lies within the confines of a nature reserve and has been constructed to conform with the existing contours of the land. In other words, it’s not carved into the countryside.
At a recent Porsche media event we were given the opportunity to drive several GTS models around this challenging and scenic piece of tarmac, including the Cayman version…
Learning the ropes
Thankfully I’d been to Ascari before so the lay of the land, so to speak, was not unfamiliar to me. Even so, I was not entirely unhappy to be led out of the pitlane by one of Porsche’s hotshoe driving instructors. Having spent the better part of a week there pounding countless laps he’d be able to show me where to be circumspect and when to let rip.
We conducted our initials laps at a moderately quick pace and once he saw that I knew which way each corner went, the driver upped the tempo to make things a little more interesting: I would get to explore the Cayman GTS’s full breath of dynamics.
Full attack mode
The leader had chosen the front straight to hasten our progress. Unfortunately for me he had a whopping 412 kW at his disposal in a 911 Turbo S while I was making do with 250 kW so the gap opened up pretty quickly. There was little I could do to stem the rapidly expanding chasm, but… I knew that Turn One would equalise matters somewhat.
The silver car ahead had to break heavily to scrub off the high velocity it attained along the pit straight and thanks to my slightly lower speed and the mass difference in favour of the Cayman, I managed to close the gap significantly. With the GTS’s ability to rotate through its vertical axis so much quicker than the 911 I was able to gain more time through the flick-flack section.
Through the off-camber, downhill left-hander that is Turn One, the 911 driver was waiting patiently to get back on the throttle so as to avoid running wide or seeing his car snap into oversteer, but I already had the littlest GTS turned in and was feeding in the power progressively.
Such is the nimbler nature of the Cayman – thanks to that mid-engined layout and shorter wheelbase – that it can really harry a 911 in the tighter bends, but obviously it tends to drop back when there is any chance for the Turbo to stretch its legs. It is through the tighter sections of the track that I am really grateful for the Alcantara clad seats as they prevented my body from sliding around too much, which allowed me to focus my energy on the task ahead instead of fighting the lateral forces.
We spent the better part of the remaining laps in a cat and mouse tussle as the configuration of Ascari we were using has a variety of corners – each with a different characteristics. The 911 Turbo is blistering quick, don’t get me wrong, but when the corners/braking zones favoured the Cayman it became a light-footed dance partner: it’s easy to waltz to an apex then sashay out of with an occasional flick of opposite lock to keep any wayward steps in check.
An explosive little package
I know that its not ideal to compare the GTS with its more powerful 911 sibling. These are two very different cars, each with its own strengths, but I was really not expecting the Cayman to keep within breathing distance of the Turbo S for so much of the lap. Perhaps the driving instructor was humouring the hack in the following car, but the attitude of the 911 led me to believe that he wasn’t quite dawdling.
There was much debate within our ranks when we crowned the Cayman GTS overall winner of our 2015 Performance Shootout. I was one of those who favoured the Porsche over the BMW M4 (one of the other finalists in our discussions) and I am glad that I did. My foray with the Cayman GTS on Spanish soil was all that I had hoped it would be, and then some.
The Cayman GTS offers the best of what Porsche has to offer in a small, user-friendly package, in true sportscar mid-engine configuration all at a relatively competitive price. Having spent a long time behind the wheel on road and (now) track I find it near impossible to fault the Cayman GTS.
Model: Porsche Cayman GTS
Power: 250 kW @ 7 400 r/min
Torque: 380 N.m @ 4 750 r/min
0-100 km/h: 4,6 secs (as tested by CAR)
Fuel consumption: 8,2 litres/100 km*
Top speed: 283 km/h*
Price: R998 000
* Figures as supplied by the manufacturer
Power:250 kW @ 7 400 r/min
Torque: 380 N.m @ 4 750 r/min
0-100 km/h:4,6 secs (as tested by CAR)
Top Speed:283 km/h*
Fuel Consumption:8,2 litres/100 km*
Notes:* Figures as supplied by the manufacturer