• Auto123 reviews the Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0 2023.
When Porsche designs a car, it is guided by one thing: the pursuit of excellence. When it concocts a more advanced version, it is driven by the same ambition, multiplied by ten.
This is true of the GT4 versions of the 718 Cayman, which are aimed more at purists, but also of the variant we tested, the GTS 4.0. Every moment spent behind the wheel makes you realize just how surgical the settings are, no matter how you treat it on the road... or on the track.
It's thus not a question of whether this car is excellent, high-performing, on-point, etc. We know it is. The important thing is to understand where it fits in the range. In other words, who is it aimed at? Because, incredible as it is, it's not for everyone.
The 2023 Porsche Cayman lineup
A quick detour to Porsche Canada’s website reveals the model's six variants: Base, Style Edition, S, GTS 4.0, GT4 and GT4 RS.
The first three are powered by a 2.0L, 300 hp turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (a 2.5L with 350 hp sits in the S variant).
From the GTS version onwards, you get a 4.0L 6-cylinder engine, with more power of course (394 hp with the GTS), but above all, the sound that lovers of performance cars and Porsche products are looking for, the sound capable of thrilling even those indifferent to motoring.
As you might have guessed, prices vary enormously from one model to the next, even before we get to the options. Roughly speaking, the offer starts at around $81,000 and closes at nearly $215,000. Our GTS 4.0 variant had a base price of $98,800, and $123,750 with options. I'll come back to that.
The 6-cylinder engine is the heart and soul of the 718 series. In 2016, when Porsche dropped it in favour of 4-cylinder solutions, some gnashed their teeth, others cried foul, some cried foul as they gnashed their teeth. Because well, a Boxster or Cayman without a 6-cylinder is like a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with a Honda engine: efficient, but not right.
In 2020, Porsche brought it back to the catalog, as if admitting their mistake. Sales had dropped significantly in North America. But there’s more to the dabbling with 4-cylinders to keep in mind. Introducing a 4-cylinder to the range opened up the Chinese market for Porsche; taxes on cubic capacity and luxury was curbing enthusiasm for the big-engine Porsches. And Chinese customers are young, very young. For the future of the brand, getting those kinds of folks onboard is an excellent thing.
Now, with the return of the 6-cylinder in the GTS and GT4 versions, Porsche hopes to regain lost ground in the brand's more traditional markets.
The 2023 Cayman GTS 4.0
The starting price for the GTS 4.0 we drove is $98,800, but our tester’s cost sat at $123,750, thanks in part to the addition of Phyton Green ($2,950), Race-Tex leather interior ($2,470), GTS cabin package ($4,200), 7-speed PDK automatic transmission ($4,250), racing seats ($6,740) and 20-inch Carrera-style wheels ($1,430).
If the price of these options makes you cringe, you're in the wrong place. For years, Porsche has been offering a wide range of expensive options to set each model apart from the rest. Buyers are well aware of this, and have the means to realize their ambitions.
What's more, the more unique you make your model, the more you invest in its resale value. Indeed, the residual on a Porsche product is not just good, it's exceptional. It's not uncommon for owners to make a profit on the resale of their toy.
When analyzing a model, one is always interested in the list of standard equipment and what can be added to it. At Porsche, this is generally comprehensive, but don't be surprised to discover that the choice of certain option packages is necessary to take advantage of certain features, such as a heated steering wheel, for example.
On the other hand, there's plenty of choice to be had, from multiple wheel designs to interior material combinations, accessories and more. Let's just say that acquiring a Porsche is an experience in itself. The process is part of the “charm”. It's a pleasant process for the buyer.
Rest assured, however. The essentials are there, in terms of technology, connectivity and safety.
Driving the 2023 Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0
The experience behind the wheel. For the great majority of owners, this is THE main motivation behind the purchase.
And the fun starts as soon as you slip inside. In the case of our version, fitted with sport seats, a very stiff lip made the experience more perilous. Getting out was even worse; some contorting was required to extricate oneself, much to the amusement of anybody watching nearby. As for the edge of these seats, it's impossible not to rub against it on entry and exit; I fear wear and tear in the long term. As an owner, I'd look at a way to protect it.
Settled into the seat, you discover a perfect driving position that requires virtually no adjustment. And just as well, there are no adjustments possible with these sport seats, except from front to back. So right quick, you feel ready to hit the road... or the track.
As soon as you switch on the ignition, your senses are awakened by the mechanical roar that tickles your back, the result of a central engine that you're practically leaning on. A unique sound, one that puts a smile on your face every time. Almost immediately after setting off, we marvel at the precision of the steering, the response of the gas pedal and the braking response. If you plan on putting yours on the track, the carbon ceramic brake option is worth considering. Otherwise, for the road, the standard system gets the job done.
Balance is undoubtedly the most seductive feature. Whether you're jerking the car from left to right on a series of successive bends, or ordering it to accelerate briskly out of a corner, it grips the asphalt impressively well.
Depending on the road under you, you can adjust the suspension settings for greater or lesser firmness, as well as switching to sportier modes for quicker mechanical responses, different gearbox calibration, etc. And then, of course, there's the manual mode, which lets you control everything from the steering-wheel-mounted paddles.
Under acceleration or during passing manoeuvres, it's fun to rev up the rev counter to 5500 or 6000 rpm, when the exhaust system plays its most beautiful symphonies. The sound is unique, inimitable, unforgettable.
The downside is that you're always on the edge of illegality. In second gear, you can easily reach 100 km/h, which means that in third gear, if you dare to let the rev counter tickle its 7,000 rpm limit, you become a traffic offender. Imagine then, in fourth, fifth and so on. Long live Germany's autobahn.
That's why, if I owned this car, I'd get membership at a racetrack so I could take full legal advantage of my car's capabilities. And I'd choose a manual gearbox. As impressive as the PDK gearbox is, it's not the same pleasure without the synchronized play of hands and feet required by the presence of a third pedal.
The final word
A truly exceptional car, the Cayman GTS 4.0 can't fail to please. If it does fail, you're in the wrong place, or in the wrong sport seat. Yes, buying a Porsche is a unique experience and process, and part of that process is ensuring you make the right choice. This car might not be the one.