Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0 versus 911 Carrera in test

A dream that never comes true, even though you might be able to fulfill it somehow – is that actually a lie? Or can you replace one dream with another? Do you have to hold on to a dream even if it changes? Heavens to Betsy, don’t you have anything better on your mind than a jumble of thoughts when someone hands you two Porsche keys in the morning? How about running to the underground parking garage and figuring out which one you want to drive first? 911 Carrera or Cayman GTS 4.0?

The 911: The guys who flattened their noses on the side window of the first 911 in 1963 are standing next to their grandchildren today when they flatten their noses on the current 992. Since the days of the economic miracle, a Beetle, Golf, and perhaps soon an ID.3 have been the promise of prosperity for society as a whole. The 911 is the dream of prosperity – over the continuity of almost six decades and the change of eight generations. At least until this morning. Because that’s when the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 rolls into the underground garage behind the basic 911, the Carrera with 385 hp.

The Cayman’s naturally aspirated four-liter engine is based on the 911’s three-liter turbo and, with 400 hp at 7,000 rpm, is 15 hp better off than the 911.

The seven-eighteen-four seems to be a Porsche like the 911 in its best, most foolhardy days. That’s because it is: As it did with the GT4, Porsche clears the four-cylinder turbo boxer out of the mid-cab and leverages that in there: Boxer. Six-cylinder. Four-liter. Naturally aspirated. It’s actually the Carrera engine-and by that we don’t mean now (at least not only) that it’s the engine the 992 Carrera should have in the rear per se. But rather that the four-liter naturally aspirated engine is based on the 911’s three-liter turbo. In the GTS 4.0, the short-stroke engine produces 20 hp less than in the GT4. But with 400 hp, there’s still plenty of power available – at 7,000 rpm. Beyond that? The direct-injection engine keeps revving up to 7,800 rpm. It controls the camshafts and intake system variably and can shut down one cylinder bank for greater efficiency if you want to take it easy.

Not that it would come to that. The cockpit is furnished in a sparse, noble style, and in the test car they have installed bucket seats costing over 5,000 euros. The sports suspension with adaptive damping lowers the body by 20 mm. It is, as Porsche would have us understand, tuned for a more sociable ride-that is, in relation to the hard, stiff set-up of the GT4. The steering with the steering gear from the 911 Turbo has a variable ratio.

And then there’s the six-speed transmission. Although Porsche also offers the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (PDK) for the GTS 4.0 for 3,173 euros, it comes to us as – how proud that sounds – a manual car. The transmission originates from a cooperation with Audi and was already coupled with the engines of the first Cayman. The fact that it has been further developed since then, but not replaced by a newer one, is due to the fact that the effort is not worth it. Firstly, because around 90 percent of customers order the PDK. And secondly because the other ten percent, whom we warmly congratulate, get a manual transmission that could hardly be better anyway. Which is another reason to say: What sports car, if not this Porsche, could challenge the sports car of sports cars, i.e. the 911?

Still dreaming for perfection?

Porsche 911 Carrera ams 2620

911 Carrera Sport Chrono: 385 hp, 450 Nm, 1,527 kg, 0 to 100 km/h in 3.7 s, Vmax 293 km/h, slalom 69.8 km/h, from 105,991 euros.

Oh dear, you might be thinking, how many times in the last few decades has a sports car come out of some bush, and each time it was immediately said, heijeijei, but now it’s getting tight for the 911? And haven’t they at Porsche always known exactly what to do and what not to do in order to protect the superiority of the 911 against both foreign and home-grown rivals? Yes, that’s true, but do you know what the Carrera has become over the last few decades as a result of this: the perfect sports car. Which doesn’t have to be an advantage for a car that is bought not out of reason, but enthusiasm.

And it’s not just its drive for perfection that has grown to lavish proportions, but also the 911 itself. Length multiplied by width results in a footprint of 8.37 m². This means that it needs exactly one square meter more space than the last air-cooled 911, the 993. True, at 7.89 square meters, the Cayman also needs its space. But noticeably less.

And it’s possible that the 911 has now exceeded the dimensions that make it such a frivolous sports car. Even in city traffic, its stature seems a bit chubby. The fact that it doesn’t seem so agile now is also due to the powertrain. The Carrera has only reached very mild speeds, and yet the dual-clutch transmission has already offered up its entire repertoire, allowing the three-liter biturbo to ogle at low revs in eighth gear. The fact that the sixth gear is enough for the top speed shows how long the transmission is. But, of course, all that is just the calm before the storm that blows in with the boost pressure.

Through dream and time

Porsche 911 Carrera ams 2620

The 718 has little to offer for comfort needs. The variance of the dampers lies between hard and very hard. In contrast, the Carrera with mixed tires (20/21 inches) and its wider, adaptively damped set-up maintains a long-distance tolerance.

The turbos are built and positioned as mirror images, so they rotate in opposite directions. Compared to the 65 hp and 80 Nm more powerful Carrera S, the turbine wheels are smaller, but here too the intercooler is now located in the grille of the rear lid, and the electronically controlled wastegate takes care of faster and more precise boost pressure control. It only takes a blink of an eye for the turbos to boost the engine and for the transmission to sort the appropriate gear. The roar of the six-cylinder engine swells, but remains muffled by the turbocharger and particulate filter. This concentrates the power of acceleration more discreetly. And it doesn’t lose traction even when the transmission seamlessly shifts into the next gear. Despite less power, the Carrera accelerates faster than the Cayman. Meanwhile, the only thing to do at the steering wheel is to set the right direction for the vehemently increasing speed. Fast highway trips succeed with a sovereignty that approaches limousine-like naturalness. Since the 992 also has an extensive assistance department, something previously unthinkable for an 911 can happen: You also drive it on the side.

In the Cayman, there’s no sidelining, only being in the middle of things, from the moment you get into the bucket seats and strap yourself in front of the mid-engine. A particulate filter also muffles its sound – well, it tries. But there’s still a lot of sound power left over the entire speed range. Even in the less exposed of the two positions, the flap exhaust never has to be accused of being squeamish about it.

When starting up, the engine needs revs and then snaps to life. Nevertheless, even as a GTS, the 718 still has almost all of the Cayman’s everyday talents – two surprisingly spacious and easy-to-use cargo compartments, excellent forward visibility and prudent rear parking sensors. In addition, its operation is not without its own peculiarities. But its system is easier to use than the 911’s with its central touchscreen and partially hidden digital instruments. But there’s still plenty to do in the GTS 4.0, which you have to wrestle with through the city and keep it happy with the right gear.

Porsche 911 Carrera ams 2620

The 911’s steering is millimeter-precise, never hectic, feedback-strong, never intrusive – you always trust it, just like the whole car.

The 718 has little to offer in the way of comfort. The variance of the dampers lies between hard and very hard, and the 20-inch wheels roll harshly. In contrast, the Carrera with its mixed tires (20/21 inches) and its wider, adaptively damped set-up has a long-distance feel. City driving, we advise, is best understood as an opportunity to reassure oneself of one’s intrepidity and to increase one’s anticipation of country roads through a bit of hardship. Because out there, where the roads snake along steep mountain sides, curve around meadows, forests and hamlets, or meander along tangled river courses, that’s where the 718 GTS unfolds its magic.

That’s where the 911 unfolds its authority. And it creates a distance between you and it that will always remain – there’s never any reason for roughhousing. Only with the best of the very best does the nine-eleven get on the same level. And that’s precisely its great strength: you can never get bored with even a normal Carrera. You can use its brilliance, even come close to it, but hardly surpass it. Like now on the closed-off handling track (trying to push such limits on a country road would prove nothing other than your own folly): Lap after lap, the 911 goes faster because it remains so enormously safe, neutral and calm even at committed speeds.

In addition, it has brilliant traction, has shed all the load change peculiarities and already has all the torque power at an unagitated 2,000 rpm. Its steering: millimeter-precise, never hectic, feedback-strong, never intrusive – you always trust it, just like the whole car. You can drive two or three dozen laps, getting faster in each one. Until you reach a limit, which is almost certainly yours and not the car’s. You sense that more and more is coming. You sense that there’s always more you could do with the Carrera. So the more powerful S and Turbo models actually only create an opportunity to drive faster without having to be better at it yourself.

Wesen des Wesentlichen

Porsche 718 Cayman ams 2620

718 Cayman GTS 4.0: 400 hp, 420 Nm, 1,406 kg, 0 to 100 km/h in 4.4 s, Vmax 293 km/h, slalom 70.4 km/h, from 80,703 euros.

The Cayman GTS 4.0 is more agile, even more jittery, more exhilarated, and also more erratic in straight-line driving. In curves, which the 911 negotiates with almost shakable neutrality, it balances on a narrower ridge, sometimes into late understeer, then immediately back into oversteer when accelerating or changing load. For a mid-engine car, it’s surprisingly unresponsive for a long time; you can almost steer it with your big toe. The steering is even sharper, reacts more directly, and responds more intensively. The Cayman GTS 4.0 is extremely agile, thrillingly dynamic and faster in the driving dynamics tests, but it demands more commitment and skill.

In return, there’s always more going on in the Cayman-even at tolerable highway speeds, everything feels more intense: the speed, the handling, your talent. The fact that it is closer to its driver, more tangible for him, is also due to this grandiose transmission: short, precise, with closely staggered gears, it demands precisely that degree of shifting force that makes precision mechanics tangible. The PDK in the Carrera may shift perfectly, especially in Sport mode, according to a strategy that decides on the basis of dozens of parameters. In the Cayman, you decide. Everything. That’s not always better, more efficient, faster – but it’s probably the essence of a real sports car.

Since they know what they’re doing in Zuffenhausen, in the end it’s the same as always: The 911 wins despite the even more outrageous price with more brute brakes (both have optional ceramic brakes), comprehensive safety/assistance features, more comfort, and the rear space for two small passengers/large luggage. By our dreamy imaginations, this makes it the perfect sports car for every day. And the Cayman GTS 4.0? Is the sports car for the perfect day.


The Boxster – let the sunshine in!

The Cayman – the engine makes enough wind!


1st Porsche 911 Carrera
427 points

Faster, safer, more confident: Yes, the 911 also wins with more comfort and assistance, but above all because it is the more modern sports car and simply a dream car for all times.

2nd Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0
408 points

In contrast, it’s a dream car for stellar moments and great special moments. Outstanding handling, epic drive – all too intense to just drive it on the side.

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