Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Car review: Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster GTS 4.0 – exciting drives for troubled times

Despite strife in the motoring industry, Porsche still has a big year ahead in the UAE

The world has moved at a rapid pace since the launch of Porsche’s 718 GTS 4.0 Cayman and Boxster in Portugal back in February.

The care-free nature of a two-seat sports car like the Cayman and its convertible sibling, the Boxster, seemed like the perfect tonic to welcome in a new year of optimism. Yet a few weeks later Covid-19 put the globe on hold and suddenly these types of cars seemed a frivolous extravagance.

An industry in turmoil

Over night, the automotive industry hit the skids as the world went into lockdown from mid-March and it’s only now that we’re seeing some of the results, with the French government promising a 5 billion Euro (Dh20.2bn) bailout for Renault, while McLaren has laid off more than 25 per cent of its workforce.

There are budding shoots of optimism both at a regional level in the UAE and globally

The automotive industry has endured arguably the bleakest period in its 135 years in the space of three painful months.

However, there are budding shoots of optimism both at a regional level in the UAE and globally, as factory workers have gone back to work to start making cars again and regional distributors and dealers have adapted to the ‘new normal’ with enforced social distancing and sanitising measure in their showrooms. There has also been a major leap into the world of selling cars online.

A big year ahead for Porsche

Porsche, in particular, still has a big year ahead with the local release of the 718 GTS 4.0 Cayman and Boxster still on track for May, and the launch of its first all-electric car, the Taycan, scheduled before the end of 2020.

The former is a fun 400 horsepower, 4.0-litre, naturally-aspirated, flat six-cylinder engine that’s available only – for the time being at least – with an old-school, six-speed manual transmission.

The manual box is glorious, with its auto blip on the down change in Sport Mode, while the mega-quick PDK eight-speed automatic will be introduced later.

On track, the Cayman puts up a good fight with the bigger 911 Carrera S. Courtesy Porsche
On track, the Cayman puts up a good fight with the bigger 911 Carrera S. Courtesy Porsche

Point-to-point and especially on track, the PDK transmission has proved itself to be quicker than the manual in every Porsche. But the smiles can’t match the satisfaction of cog-swapping yourself through some tight and twisty canyon roads, accompanied by a glorious, distinctively Porsche sound that spins to 7,800 revolutions per minute.

The engine and exhaust are taken from the Cayman GT4, which also gives it a defining look at the rear with pipes mounted either side.

Other visual clues include 20-inch alloy wheels in satin-gloss black, black badging, dark inserts for the front fog lights and tinted taillights, while the Porsche Active Suspension Management system lowers it by 20 millimetres.

Also standard are other performance components such as Porsche Stability Management, with a separately selectable PSM Sport mode, the Sport Chrono package, including the upgraded Track App, active drivetrain mounts and torque vectoring with a mechanical limited slip diff.

Cayman and Boxster on and off the track

On track, the Cayman puts up a good fight with the bigger 911 Carrera S. This is no great surprise when you realise the Cayman is good for 295 kilometres per hour and gets to 100kmh in 4.5 seconds. It falls away on the straights when the 911 stretches its legs, but then can catch up and hound it through the tighter stuff. The mid-engine placement in the Cayman and Boxster, as opposed to the rear overhanging position of the 911, gives the little one a weight balance benefit.

Away from the track, the Boxster is a joy to punt along windy roads, while the benefit of having a fabric roof as opposed to a metal unit includes minimal weight, as well as offers maximum exposure to the elements with its windscreen sitting further forward.

The Cayman does 295 kilometres per hour and gets to 100kmh in 4.5 seconds. Courtesy Porsche
The Cayman does 295 kilometres per hour and gets to 100kmh in 4.5 seconds. Courtesy Porsche

The interior is dominated by dark Alcantara leather with power adjustable seats as standard, or there’s the option of the lightweight carbon-fibre sports buckets that are manually adjustable and provide a very snug fit that are best left for the track day specialists rather than daily driving.

An optional GTS interior package adds a highlight colour to offset the all-black look, with the choice of red or grey for the rev counter, seat belts, decorative seams, including an embroidered GTS emblem in the headrests, as well as the Porsche script on the floor mats. The trim elements and the centre console are made of carbon.

The 718 Cayman and Boxster GTS 4.0 duo provide maximum fun for the driver, plus a passenger, and in today’s world of social distancing, taking the car for a solo drive into the desert or through the mountains, away from crowded places and people is now, more than ever, one of life’s greatest pleasures.

The Cayman is priced at Dh321,200 and it’s Dh333,500 for the Boxster. Deliveries are expected imminently.

Updated: May 30, 2020 08:33 AM

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