My week with the 911-rivalling Porsche Cayman GTS – part 2

Much of my week with the Porsche Cayman GTS is now behind me and it’s fair to say I’ve been putting in as many miles as possible, even taking a day’s holiday to get behind the wheel of Zuffenhausen’s 981 range-topper.

It’s the perfect car for the narrow, twisting country lanes that run throughout Dorset like arteries, and it certainly put a huge smile on my face when sprinting along the Studland Coast Road.

At the tail-end of last year, I claimed that the Porsche 991 marked a bigger revolution for the 911 platform than the Porsche 996, even though the latter heralded in the water-cooled era.

Josh has been putting plenty of miles on the Cayman GTS, exploring the coastal roads that Total 911 calls home.
Starting with a ferry ride, Josh has been putting plenty of miles on the Cayman GTS, exploring the coastal roads that Total 911 calls home.

Much of my argument was based on the driving dynamics of Porsche’s latest neunelfer; it is generally agreed upon in the Total 911 office that the 991 chassis doesn’t handle anything like a traditional Porsche 911 (just read Lee’s Turbo S head-to-head in the current issue to find out).

However, after nearly 400 miles of blasting around the most challenging roads in my local area, I’d like to put on the record that I’m changing my mind slightly about that bold statement.

Show the Cayman GTS a corner and, in true Porsche fashion, the car comes alive. It is so eager to get its nose to the apex thanks to the ideal weight distribution benefitted to it through the mid-engined layout.

The Cayman GTS's front axle hangs on for dear life, a world away even from the Porsche 991.
The Cayman GTS’s front axle hangs on for dear life, a world away even from the Porsche 991.

The front end just wants to grip, clinging to the tarmac (even in damp conditions) like a limpet. The electric steering system may dampen some of the feel but, with so much confidence in the adhesive powers of the 235/35/ZR20 Pirellis it doesn’t actually matter.

Instead, without the full mass of a flat six engine over the rear axle, the Cayman GTS wants to pivot around its nose, allowing you to balance the car on the throttle in a traditional sports car manner.

Get on the loud pedal and the tail happily starts swinging out, tucking the front end towards the apex and sharpening your line. To say the Cayman GTS likes oversteer, even at normal road speeds, would be an understatement. It absolutely loves it.

Porsche's proper mid-engined sports car shows that the 991 still handles like a classic 911 (albeit it polished to the extreme).
Porsche’s proper mid-engined sports car shows that the 991 still handles like a classic 911 (albeit it polished to the extreme).

By comparison, it highlights how, despite the extra wheelbase and efforts to shift the engine’s mass forward, the Porsche 991 still retains the need for that classic 911 driving style.

It may be so much more accomplished in its overall level of grip but, the 991 chassis still predominantly wants to understeer on corner entry, making you lift off the throttle mid-corner to tuck the nose in (a completely contradictory driving style to the Cayman).

Therefore, for those who bemoan the 991’s lack of real Porsche 911 character, I’ve found the ultimate cure: jump in the seat of a Cayman GTS for a bit and come to realise what true mid-engined dynamics really feel like for the Porsche 991 is still a true neunelfer.

Make sure you check out the first part of Josh’s Porsche Cayman GTS diary to find out why Total 911 are testing Zuffenhausen’s mid-engined wonder.

Driving a Porsche Cayman GTS is the perfect cure for those who say the 991 isn't a true 911.
Driving a Porsche Cayman GTS is the perfect cure for those who say the 991 isn’t a true 911.

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