Porsche's new GTS offers a simpler choice
While buyers could spend all the extra money on a 718 S, the new GTS version provides the same perks for $10,000 less
Pity the poor Porsche buyer. There they sit in the salesperson's cubicle, looking to spend this year's Christmas bonus or trust fund dividend, and there's just too much choice. It used to be simple: Do you want fast, or really fast? And do you want a roof? That was it.
Today, though, there are so many different Porsches that it boggles the imagination. Forget the four-door options for the moment, though they outsell handily the two-door sports cars we're thinking about here. You can start on the low end of the price spectrum with the most basic 718 Cayman at $62,700, and work through to the 911 GT2 RS at $334,000. And almost every one of those 29 models comes with a dizzying choice of options for looks, convenience and performance.
Where to begin?
Generally, there's been a simple guideline for the beleaguered Porsche customer in Canada. If you desire a new two-door sportster for less than $100,000, then buy a 718 Cayman coupe or its sibling, the 718 Boxster convertible. If your year-end balance is healthy enough to go past $100,000, it's a 911.
The Caymans and Boxsters have been chipping away at the performance of the 911s for the past few years, however, making them usually the better deal. They handle differently – 718s have the engine in the middle of the chassis, while 911s have their engines hanging over the rear axle, and a couple of extra, afterthought seats – but these are semantics not usually noticed unless on a track.
Now, with the introduction of the more powerful GTS versions of the Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster, the buying decision gets muddied again. The top-end 718s are at least $10,000 less than the equivalent 911, and the horsepower is almost identical at 365 hp (compared with 370 hp for the 911) and both have zero-to-100 km/h accelerations as quick as 4.1 seconds.
But while their MSRPs are still five-figure prices, at $90,600 for a manual Cayman and $93,000 for a manual Boxster, these bear little relation to what you'll end up paying. Add the $1,250 destination charge and the – ugh – taxes and your final cheque is well into six figures already. And that's without the $4,250 PDK paddle-shifted transmission and special paint.
So is it worth the extra money to spend so much on a four-cylinder 718 instead of a flat-six 911?
It might be. If you just want a nice Porsche to drive on the road and pretend you're a racer, then you'll be quite happy with the 300 hp of the base 718. If you're actually a quick driver who would appreciate a bit more get-up-and-go, you'll be happier with the 350 hp, S version of the 718, which starts at around $14,000 extra.
If you're the buyer who likes to tick off all the boxes, or actually race with more confidence on a track, then the standard features of the GTS will save you around $10,000 over selecting the individual options on the S.
You'll get Porsche torque vectoring and a limited slip differential, for better cornering; you'll get Porsche Active Stable Management, 20-inch wheels and a chassis that's lowered by 10 mm, for better overall stability at speed; and you'll get better seats, a sport exhaust with black tailpipes, and blackened bi-xenon headlamps and taillights. You don't need any of that stuff for the drive to work, but it does make you feel good on the track or when you're parking at the gym.
The GTS is not just a repackaging of options, though. Power is up slightly through recalibration of the 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and so is torque, which peaks at 309 lbs.-ft. for the six-speed manual and 317 for the seven-speed PDK. It does this at just 1,900 rpm, much lower than the six cylinders of the 911, although you'll probably want to keep the revs higher, just because you can. The GTS also includes the Sport Chrono package as standard, which lets you select different drive modes and even press a boost button for 20 seconds of maximum everything – great fun for overtaking.
On the track, there's no understeer at all and the brakes have no problem hauling speed back down to whatever's needed, even off a straight line (don't ask how I know this). 911s are known for their predictable "waggy tails" thanks to their heavier rear ends, and their drivers love this trait. 718s have none of it and track straight and true through the Ss.
If you wanted, you could spend all the extra money on a 718 S and have a car that performs almost as well as a basic 911 for about the same price. With the new GTS version, Porsche has a car that does the same thing for $10,000 less. Maybe that will help in the salesperson's cubicle, after all.
- Base price: $90,600 (Cayman GTS); $93,000 (Boxster GTS)
- Engine: 2.5-litre, turbocharged, opposed-four cylinder
- Transmission/drive: Six-speed manual; seven-speed PDK/rear-wheel
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.3 city/9.4 highway (manual); 11.8 city, 9.2 highway (PDK)
- Alternatives: Jaguar F-Type, BMW M4, Audi TT RS
The regular 718 Cayman and Boxster already look great, but with standard 20-inch wheels and the blacked-out appearance package of pipes and lights, the GTS just looks that much better.
Well thought out, comfortable for both driver and passenger, and with a standard synthetic suede finish on the seats and steering wheel, as well as the Cayman's headliner. What's not to like?
A barely noticeable difference in power from the cheaper 718 S versions. The improvement really comes from the track-oriented handling packages that are options on the 718 S but standard on the GTS.
No different really from other 718 models, which is not bad at all. All Porsche 718s have full connectivity, but there's still only Apple CarPlay and no option yet for Android Auto. You can connect with your smartphone to help set up the car though.
Still a crunch in the front trunk for more than just a couple of gym bags and barely any room behind the seats.
A lovely and inspiring car to drive, but you'll probably spend far too much time second guessing whether you should have sprung for the 911.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.