By on May 24, 2021

2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0

2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 Fast Facts

4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six cylinder engine (394hp @ 7,000 RPM, 309 lb-ft @ 5,000-6,500 RPM)

Six-speed manual transmission; Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission optional, rear-wheel drive

17 city / 24 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

14.0/12.3 (A/T) city, 10.0/9.8 (A/T) highway, 12.2/11.1 (A/T) combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $86,800 (U.S) / $95,200 (Canada)

As Tested: $110,990 (U.S.) / $111,340 (Canada)

Prices include $1,350 destination charge in the United States and $1,600 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

As the 911 has continued to expand in size and skillset over recent years, the line between its sporting and grand touring intentions has started to blur.

Versatility is certainly a virtue for any road-going performance vehicle, but for those looking for a dyed-in-the-wool sportscar, the platform shared between the Boxster and Cayman has always made more sense, offering better weight distribution thanks to its mid-engined layout and dimensions that harken back to the 911’s air-cooled days.

But for years Porsche’s mid-engined, two-seater played second fiddle to its iconic older brother, its capability seemingly held back by the entry-level designation it wore. While the second-generation Cayman R and Boxster Spyder showed that Porsche was willing to get somewhat serious about the platform’s potential, it wasn’t until the third generation’s Cayman GT4 that the notion was really driven home. Adopting a number of components from the track-focused 911 GT3 and the flat-six powerplant from the Carrera S, the GT4 was a hardcore performer that proved the Cayman no longer needed to live in the 911’s shadow.

2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0

When the fourth-generation 718 Cayman and Boxster launched in 2016, it also marked the debut of two new horizontally-opposed, flat-four-cylinder turbocharged engines – a 2.0-liter for base Cayman and Boxster models and a 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four mill for the Cayman S and Boxster S. Although these new, more efficient turbo-fours offered significantly more grunt than their predecessors, the many of the Porsche faithful longed for the unchoked wail of the six-cylinder from years past, and they weren’t exactly quiet about it.

So, to appease potential 718 Cayman buyers that aren’t looking to step into GT4 territory, Porsche has created the GTS 4.0. While it’s motivated by a slightly detuned version of the 718 GT4’s 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six, it’s more accurate to think of it as an upgraded Cayman S rather than a downgraded GT4, as the GTS 4.0 shows a greater emphasis on real-world use. The result is a masterful balance between performance and drivability, and one of the most well-rounded sports cars that you can buy today at any price.

2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0

Like GTS models of the past, the Cayman GTS 4.0 combines key performance hardware, comfort, and convenience features, and subtle aesthetic tweaks versus a Cayman S. Its hunkered-down stance comes by way of the standard Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adaptive damper system, which is dialed in to provide more sport-oriented handling and lowers the car 20mm versus a standard Cayman. Along with reworked front and rear fascias, tinted taillights, and black accents from stem to stern, the black exhaust tips outfitted on the GTS 4.0 denote the presence of Porsche’s sport exhaust, an active system that offers volume control by way of a button on the center console (or by selecting either the Sport or Sport+ drive modes).

Without an aggressive aero package like the GT4, the GTS 4.0’s overall look merely hints at its performance potential rather than shouting it from the hilltops. That theme continues inside, where Porsche’s adjustable sport seats are fitted as standard, dark gray Alcantara abounds, and black trim elements are offset by either Carmine Red or Chalk accents depending on which equipment package has been chosen.

2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0

Material quality and fit and finish are expectedly top-notch, but the Porsche Communication Management infotainment system remains a notable weak point in the Cayman’s cabin. Although it’s reasonably responsive to inputs and includes all of the core functionality you’d expect from a modern system, the seven-inch touchscreen display looks dated compared to the 10.9-inch system used in the 992-generation 911, and it doesn’t support some features that are quickly becoming commonplace in mainstream vehicles, like wireless Apple CarPlay. I’d also recommend sticking with the base audio if you don’t care about music, or springing for the Burmester system if you do – the optional mid-level Bose surround-sound system in this tester isn’t worth the $990 price of admission.

Fortunately, the infotainment system is one of the very few faults to be found in the Cayman GTS 4.0. The car is effortless to pilot around town – the clutch is light with a clear engagement point, the adjustable sport seats are comfy, and in Normal drive mode, the suspension is actually pretty compliant. I should have been begging for mercy after a 300-mile round trip to the Thermal Club and back from central LA, but in its most sedate settings, the Cayman GTS 4.0 doesn’t beat you up for spending a few hours behind the wheel.

2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0

Still, it should come as little surprise that where GTS 4.0 really stuns is out in the canyons. Coming off of a week with a 992 Carrera S, I missed the mid-range pull of the boosted 911, but the Cayman scored big points for its additional revs, emotive flat-six soundtrack, better gearbox, and outright poise at the limit. It also doesn’t “shrink around you” because it’s already the right size for a sports car, and every input is precisely translated to the road thanks to its impeccable balance. The Cayman GTS 4.0 feels like a honed instrument of performance, whereas the Carrera S is a unique performance experience unto itself.

Contrary to some speculation, though, the GTS 4.0 doesn’t amount to a “GT4 Touring,” as back to back stints in the GTS and a 981-generation GT4 verified. While the GTS 4.0 makes a bit more power, it’s geared less aggressively, the suspension tuning is softer, and the Pirelli Pzeros offer noticeably less grip than the GT4’s wide Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s do. The optional carbon buckets are also well worth the added expense and compromise in comfort in a GT4, but they wouldn’t make much sense in the GTS 4.0 given how the rest of the car is set up.

2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0

That speaks to the larger mission of the GTS. While I have no doubt that it’s an absolute weapon on a road course, it’s tuned to be far easier to live with on the street than the GT4 is, and ultimately the pendulum has to swing one way or the other. Considering where Caymans typically rack up their mileage, the tuning of the GTS 4.0 yields a car that most folks would be more willing to hop into on a daily basis, and that’s probably worth more than a few tenths at your next track day.

[Images © 2021 Bradley Iger/TTAC]

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26 Comments on “2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 Review – A Sports Car For All Occasions...”

  • avatar

    This is my “when I finally get the raise I deserve” car. Right here. Maybe not optioned up to $110,000, but a Cayman with a 6-cyl and proper manual transmission is going in the garage. I’ve loved the Cayman even more than most 911s for being more of an attainable track and sports car, and this model seals the deal. Not everyone wants a track special to just beat the snot out of them in normal driving.

    Not sure where Bradley took possession of said fine automobile, but given the pictures, head up 15 North to 70 East to 64 East and drop it off up front!!!

  • avatar

    “4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six cylinder engine (394hp @ 7,000 RPM, 309 lb-ft @ 5,000-6,500 RPM)”

    This, but priced like a C8 Corvette would be awesome.

  • avatar

    If I were going to get a toy like this that were tuned for enjoyable street driving rather than the track, I’d want it with a soft top. But other than the top choice, in my opinion this is the most desirable car Porsche makes.

  • avatar

    For those of you who don’t care about all of the “tech” features in the newest Porsches, and are tired of the same old bland jelly bean styling, consider the Lotus Evora GT. That’s what I bought. About the same price as the top level Caymans, and will outperform the GTS 4.0, all while turning heads and having a reliable Toyota powertrain.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d kind of like a Lotus at some point for the reasons you cited. So often what buries you in a car as it ages is the power train, so if you can keep that reliable and only have to worry about your suspension/wearables etc. it makes for a good long term ownership experience IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s a great point. The Evora GT looks super cool, and is absolutely a star performer by any measure. I looked very closely at an Evora GT before I ordered a 718 GT4, but decided on the Porsche because of the Lotus’ high depreciation and thin dealer / support network.

      My intended use for this car is driving to, from, and at track days (often long distances), and I loved the Lotus’ uniqueness but ultimately decided on the more commonplace GT4. If I wanted two mid-engine manual-shift sports cars, I’d add the Lotus :)

    • 0 avatar

      The numbers don’t really support a claim that the Lotus will outperform a GTS 4.0.

      • 0 avatar

        “The numbers” show the Evora GT has more HP, more torque and about the same curb weight. I don’t know of anyone who has done a direct head to head comparison, but it’s hard to deny that the Lotus handles as well or better than most cars in this segment, without the “trickery” of electronically adjustable dampers etc. From my understanding, the Cayman GT4 is a closer match to the Lotus Evora GT, at usually a substantial premium in price.

  • avatar

    My brother has the previous generation 718 as a track car with the PDK. It’s handling is telepathic in nature… you think and the car goes exactly where intended. While its an amazing track car it doesn’t feel “street fast” like a V8 (obviously) however the shifts are snap your fingers quick and cockpit is setup very well. Just forget about doing any service to the engine given its hidden inside the car. One look at that, along with Porsche’s hourly service rate sent me to buy a C7. My brother beats on his constantly often running back to back track session with his wife and the car doesn’t complain one bit. He cracked an exhaust pipe and the dealer covered under warranty. These things are clearly engineered to be run hard.

    • 0 avatar

      He cracked the exhaust while racing and the dealer covered it? Wow.

      • 0 avatar

        Yep. Might be because he is a repeat buyer (4th P-car) or because they just looked the other way. However since the exhaust is part of the emission control system they might have been required to warranty it.

        My C7 is covered for track duty by GM, there is an entire section of the owner’s manual on track prep.

  • avatar

    Bradley, I know you mentioned the gearing is different but does the GTS 4.0 suffer from the same super-tall second gear?

    • 0 avatar

      Its not noticeable. It drives very well in urban areas in 3rd and on the track its basically 2-3 rinse and repeat.

    • 0 avatar
      Bradley Iger

      It’s actually 3rd that’s taller in the GTS 4.0 vs the GT4. It should pull more or less as hard as a 981 GT4 from the same speed, but it doesn’t.

      I didn’t notice 2nd being extremely short in either car, to be honest. But I also think the gearing in the 981 GT4 is fine, and I know that’s not a popular opinion.

  • avatar

    Every time I drive a Porsche, I don’t get it…I mean, it’s good and all, essentially a go kart for grownups…you sit on the floor, the steering is in front, the engine in back…I’ve driven GT3, GT4, the last aircooled…but I still don’t get the way it commands too much money, or how Porsche’s price sheet is telephone numbers. Clearly I’m missing something.

    • 0 avatar

      “essentially a go kart for grownups…you sit on the floor”
      Check out the 904 side-by-side with a vintage 911:

      The 911 looks like a CUV next to it.

      You’re paying for better materials and workmanship that aren’t cheap. For example, I like Simon Pearce glassware. Each piece handmade by a craftsman in Vermont. Very, very expensive. They handmade pieces aren’t even as perfect as something from Walmart, but each piece is individual and made by someone that you can actually watch on the shop floor making each piece. In the automotive world, we have half a million dollar+ supercars and multibillion hypercars. Looking at those, the 911/718’s are relatively cheap for what you are getting.

  • avatar

    “I’ve driven GT3, GT4, the last aircooled…but I still don’t get the way it”

    Says no one that’s driven a GT3 in anger ever. What, did you drive it around on the street? It’s a stupid street car AND it doesn’t even attract girls, but it’s a monster on the track.

    • 0 avatar

      “…but it’s a monster on the track.”

      …..says noone that’s driven a real, dedicated, track car in anger ever….. :)

      An Atom (or a gutted and repurposed 911…), a 3/4 ton truck and a trailer is about the price of a GT3. While maintenance, and wear and tear, on the Atom vs the GT3 (due to more track appropriate weight and equipment), will save you enough in the course of even a modest schedule, to upgrade your basic trailer to one with living quarters. Much better way to spend ones money, if track use is why the car is bought.

      The GT3 is fantastic, but more because it does feel mechanical and “tracky”, even as a street car. It’s much more engaging to blitz through a few empty corners, than less direct cars are. And can, of course, be driven on track. Just keep the cost of any mishap in mind: It costs a fortune to repair, AND any reported mishap wipes out the vaunted “residual” GT3 owners all seem to fall over themselves obsessing over. Once-crashed (by a nobody, not Steve McQueen), don’t auction well…

  • avatar

    @Bradley, Great pictures! Thank you (makes me look forward to my next big road trip, which is delayed – again – lol).

  • avatar

    I finally got mine last week after a 5 month wait. I couldn’t love it more. It is a total blast!

  • avatar

    This car is pure sex, gives me a big old chubby.

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