The Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman GTS are quite possibly the best sports cars you can buy

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 11, 2018

      

The new 718 Boxster GTS

ST. HELENA, Calif. –– If you’re old enough to remember when punk rock first exploded on the music scene in the 1970s, you no doubt remember how radical it sounded. Yet it wasn’t. It’s simplicity, rawness and rudeness was little more than an acknowledgement of rock’s roots, which had become buried under the aural sludge of corporate rock. It’s an analogy that applies to Porsche. The rear-engine 911, now available in a new "stripped" 911T trim, has grown fat and happy after seven decades on the market. Yes, it’s iconic, like Paul McCartney or Brian Wilson, but you know what to expect.

In contrast, the mid-engine 718 Boxster convertible and Cayman coupe are Porsche’s punk rockers. They are the distilled essence of Porsche, its quintessence rendered in metal and muscle, particularly in its new GTS trim.

Visually, the GTS sports a Sport Design black front fascia with tinted front and rear lights, a black lower rear fascia, centrally mounted black exhaust tips and matte black 20-inch wheels.

But it’s the performance upgrades that matter more: torque vectoring, a mechanical rear-differential lock, the Sport Chrono Package, and Porsche Active Suspension Management. The later reduces ride height by 0.39 inches compared to the standard suspension. Yes, you can get these on S models, but it will cost you more. And the GTS’ 2.5 liter flat-four cylinder engine's has an additional 15 horsepower compared to the 718 S models and up to 35 horsepower more than the previous naturally aspirated Boxster and Cayman GTS.

That makes the GTS good for 365 horsepower through its six-speed manual transmission, although a seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual-clutch transmission is optional. And before you scoff at the notion of paying an additional $3,730 for the PDK, understand that it does have its advantages. Specifically, it has 317 pound-feet of torque versus the manual’s 309, and an extra mile per gallon in fuel economy ratings. Most important, the PDK is faster, with a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds. Order the manual and that same run takes 4.4 seconds. Track hounds take note.

What you quickly discover, just as in other Boxster Cayman models, is that the 718 GTS models make the perfect dance partner –– but even more so. With two seats, two trunks (one front, one rear), Alcantara trim, and an engine placed over your shoulder, the 718 Boxster/Cayman GTS is not just ideally balanced, it’s one sweet sports car.

Everything on this car is ideal for tearing up your favorite twisties. The tires grip with authority, the steering is quick and precise, body lean is nonexistent. A knob on the steering wheel adjusts the vehicle’s driving mode from Normal to Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual. As you’d expect, the ride is very firm, and even the Normal mode delivers a firm ride over rough road surfaces. But what makes the 718 GTS so compelling is not just its clear communication as to what’s going on, but also its ability to make you a better driver not only through its many electronic systems, but also through the PDK, which always seems to anticipate what you’re about to do. Clearly, clairvoyance has a name, and it’s PDK. Best of all, it allows the driver to concentrate on driving technique, something that rarely happens with a manual – just ask race car legend Hurley Haywood.

Even if you don’t you don’t, you’ll find the 718 Boxster GTS or the 718 Cayman GTS to be your ultimate weekend warrior, a delightful plaything that strikes the perfect chord in your automotive hit parade.

For the money, they are among the finest sports cars you can buy.

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Base prices: $79,800-$81,900

Engine: Turbocharged 2.5-liter flat four-cylinder

Horsepower: 365

Torque: 309 pound-feet (manual); 317 pound-feet (PDK)

EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 19/25 (manual); 20/26 (PDK)

Fuel type: Premium

Wheelbase: 97.4 inches

Length: 172.9 inches

Combined cargo capacity: 9.7 cubic feet (Boxster); 15 cubic feet (Cayman)

Curb weight: 3,032-3,098 pounds

Top speed: 180 mph