The Cayman GTS, a Flat-Six Celebration

When a buddy of mine offered me the keys to his 2015 Cayman GTS for a few days I knew I was literally being presented an offer I couldn’t refuse. I have always liked the plucky little Cayman, even if the big boys in the 911 department seem to have strangled the car power wise to keep their pet project the king.
Of course, I never actually knew how good the Cayman was, and as the platform switches away from the flat-six to a flat-four I thought this GTS would be a good way to experience the ultimate in the road going Cayman. So with keys in hand and a fresh tank of 93, I took off to explore the world of the mid-engined Porsches.

First lets talk about the car itself. When the GTS was launched for this generation it had just ten less horsepower and 7 fewer pound feet of torque than the base 911. At 340 HP and 280 lb-ft and the engine in the middle the car on paper certainly seems like more than a match for a base Carrera. With Sport Chrono as standard on the GTS, Sport Plus is always available to stiffen up the chassis and raise the shift points. And of course the car was available with Porsche’s excellent PDK transmission. But my friend is like a lot of us here at Hooniverse and prefers to row his own gears, so I had a phenomenal six-speed and three beautiful pedals to play with. Combine that with the optional sport exhaust and I found myself enjoying redline pulls on the highway more than I think I ever have before.

The first thing I noticed with the car is just how smoothly the power is delivered. Quiet and civil in comfort mode with the sport exhaust off, but hard, loud, and savage with it in Sport plus. Before this Cayman, the only experience I had with a mid-engined car was the 458 I drove at the end of last year, and like that car I immediately felt a sense of balance that was inherent to the layout. Taking it around the winding roads of the Texas Hill Country I was floored by the amount of grip available. The engine loves to be revved out to redline, but at the same time it doesn’t need to live there. I found myself using mostly second and third on my fun runs out in the country. The traction control was smart, letting me dance on the edge of traction and grip before it intervened. The steel brakes had a ton of stopping power, and made me question the push to carbon ceramics for street cars.
As I started racking up the miles, I found myself falling in love with the car in a way that I had never expected. When I briefly drove the new 991.2 Carrera S there was a feeling of specialness. From the build quality of the interior, to the lovely snap of the PDK, to the brilliant twin turbo engine, it was just perfect. A master stroke of engineering and design. But when you get back to the Cayman you see the cracks in the armor of the 911. Yes the Cayman isn’t as powerful, and some of the features aren’t always available. But at the same time, if I sat you in the interior of both blindfolded there is no way on earth that you could tell the difference. The Porsche quality of materials is just heads and shoulders above almost any other OEM. Combine that with the lower cost of entry for the arguably better platform and the conundrum within Porsche becomes more clear.
And then we get to that wonderful engine in this Cayman GTS. The 3.4 liter flat-six that powers the GTS is a beast of a motor. It isn’t the most powerful, torque isn’t off the charts, and it isn’t as mighty as a base Carrera. But when you switch the sport exhaust on, hit sport plus and take off, you notice that the engine right behind your head is a machine that comes alive. From the cracks on a redline upshift, to the spitfire symphony of coming off compression it’s a wailing animal of a motor. I found my self using routes that I knew had more underpasses just to roll the window down and give it a lashing of the loud pedal. I’ve never been so intoxicated by a noise before. And when you are on a backroad, windows down, attacking the turns that’s when I realized what a triumph of engineering that this car is.
People accuse the Germans of being humorless and boring, but how can that be true when they produce savage machines like this? Does this desire to make amazing sports cars lead to the dual soul of cars like this? I could see anyone without a family having this car as their primary driver. Even in sport the ride isn’t back destroying, the sport seats hug you in place and comfort you, and the touch screen is easy to use. Oh, and another thing that has me head over heels with this car? There are no buttons on the steering wheel. None. No buttons or dials taking up room for what should be the job of the wheel, steering the car.

At the end of my time with the car I came away with a new appreciation of the Flat-Six. The work Porsche has done with that motor over the decades is beyond impressive and deserves to be celebrated. And that’s what I feel this GTS is, it’s one last celebration for the NA Flat-six. And while I have already been impressed by the turbo 991.2, I look at the new 718 twins with some hesitation. Can a flat four really live up the majesty of this send off? Either way, I do have to steal a quote. “If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”
(And thanks to my buddy Jon Over for giving me the car for a few days. Jon Over is one the founders of the online car community Revved Up Boston. He is also the Director of Technology where he runs the website and online profiles of Revved Up Boston. He moved to Austin Texas in the Fall of 2013 for school but chose to stay on for the robust Car culture and Racing scene. You can find him with the social media accounts of Revved Up Boston on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.)

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  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    Oh man, I’ve always loved the Cayman. Can the turbo four really do the job? Somehow I wonder. I know it won’t sound the same.

  2. Ross Ballot Avatar
    Ross Ballot

    I’m a big fan of the 987, especially the GTS (and R…). It won’t be “right” at first to hear turbo-4 sounds coming from the 718, but I think with the tune-ability and the nature of a turbo engine it won’t take long for them to seem like they were meant to be there all along…

    1. Bradley Brownell Avatar
      Bradley Brownell

      987 is the perfect sports car. 981 is great, especially the GTS, but they added too much “grand touring” into my “sports car”.

  3. Alff Avatar

    This is the one modern Porsche I’d like to get a crack at.

    1. Patrick Hoffstetter Avatar

      It’s worth every penny. Used ones are an amazing value

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