2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS first drive review: fighting for attention

Born into a prizewinning family, the 2018 Porsche 718 GTS may never be the champion of anything—not in the Porsche lineup at least.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a winner.

The 2018 Porsche 718 GTS adds 15 horsepower and 8 pounds-feet of torque above the Cayman S or Boxster S, cuts 0.4 inches from the ride height from either, and stops quicker on stickier Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 235/35ZR20 front and 265/35ZR20 rear rubber.

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The GTS is no lightweight—the Cayman GTS weighs 88 pounds more than the base coupe, or 44 pounds more than the Cayman S, but it deftly slices through curves better than anything I drove today.

The 718 Cayman GTS in Carmine Red I’m driving in Northern California is a blur: 0-60 mph takes less than 4 seconds, more powerful, lower, and Porsche claims that the 718 GTS is 9 seconds faster than the 997.1 Turbo around the Nurburgring-Nordschleife.

At 7 minutes and 40 seconds, the 718 GTS is nearly as quick as the 997.2 Turbo around the ‘Ring.

Track times aside, on paper the 718 GTS is all the car that 911s ever claimed to be.

Champions aren’t made on paper.

2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS first drive

2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS first drive

Listen up

The engine does its best to convince drivers that it’s a winner.

Listen closely to the 718 GTS and you’ll hear a 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4 gulp through a larger diameter compressor wheel with more boost compared to the Cayman S, and spin up to a 7,500-rpm redline with alacrity.

Its power band builds toward its peak power—365 hp at 6,500 rpm—in a smooth, controlled delivery that testifies against its forced induction. The torque in the 718 GTS is the truth, however. Nearly all 317 pound-feet of twist is available at less than 2,000 revs, just off idle when the 718 Cayman GTS surges off the line.

MUST READ: 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman first drive review: don't play it by ear

The standard 6-speed manual or optional 7-speed dual-clutch automatic similarly rips through shifts in satisfying clicks. The PDK is geared taller thanks to the additional cog, but the top speeds are identical at 180 mph. With launch control engaged on the PDK only, the 718 GTS is elemental; the engine roars somewhere behind your back, but also deep in your gut.

But listen closer and you’ll hear more: piped-in noises from the engine compartment.

Porsche doesn’t transmit engine noises through speakers like some of its corporate cousins, but the 718 Cayman GTS channels its mellifluous grunts via pass-throughs from the engine compartment into the cabin.

2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS first drive

2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS first drive

It’s the 718 GTS’ dirty secret, but it’s forgivable. Comments-section purists bemoan the turbo-4 (or even recoil) but they’re not buying the 718 anyway—internet money still doesn’t buy new sports cars.

The amplified sound is no illusion; the Cayman GTS convinces enough with 3.9-second 0-60 mph sprints with the 7-speed PDK (4.4 with the 7-speed manual).

The piped-in noises do something entirely different. It brings me closer to the drive.

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