November 15, 2018

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The greatest pleasure to be found in Porsche’s 982-chassis 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman exists between the edge of grip and the edge of control. It’s a place of pure joy thanks to the sweetest stability-control system in existence—one that lets you look over the edge without actually jumping, but which also never punishes you for doing so. These are machines we’ve appreciated for years now, approving enough of Porsche’s least costly sports car in either its roadster or coupe forms (or both) to award them 19 10Best Cars awards—including a 2018 honor. The newest version of the cars, the GTS, makes the experience even more enlightening.

The GTS designation isn’t new, having first appeared on the 904 Carrera GTS in 1963. The modern formula for GTS models is to add the performance features available elsewhere as options and package them with a modest bump in power for an all-in price better than it would cost to piece everything together. And that’s exactly what the Boxster and Cayman GTS models accomplish once again, their starting prices of $82,950 and $80,850 representing a value over comparably equipped S models.

The standard Porsche Active Suspension Management lowers the car 0.4 inch relative to a base model fitted with the passive suspension. PASM constantly adjusts the damping rate over two overlapping ranges depending on the selected driving mode. It can also be decoupled from the selected mode via a button on the center console. The optional PASM Sport suspension lowers the GTS a further 0.4 inch. Ride quality is firm even in the softer setting, jostling occupants when the road turns rough. But control is sublime, and the trade-off is both worthwhile and among the best in the industry. Sport Plus was our preferred driving mode at the track, but on the road we regularly dialed the suspension back to its softer setting to allow better compliance. The anti-roll bars in the GTS are stiffened about 10 percent relative to the S, and body roll is never disruptive or, honestly, even noticeable.

Steering, as ever, is quick enough to direct the GTS prudently while speaking a language we understand. The S models’ variable-ratio rack is shared here as well. Both the Boxster and the Cayman have always lacked the pitch/dive dance that many mid-engine cars exhibit under heavy braking or acceleration, and that remains the case in the GTS. As a result, the steering weight and feedback are consistent, giving the driver a trustworthy place to go about the business of driving hard.

Only a direct back-to-back drive or instrumented tests—which we will perform as soon as GTS models are available—will definitively reveal the effect of the power increase. Weight is a wash between the two body styles, with equipment differences affecting the total more than your choice between a coupe or a convertible (Porsche quotes the same weight for both). Expect a 3100-to-3200-pound car. Porsche says both models are good for a 3.9-second run to 60 mph when equipped with the PDK and 4.4 seconds with the manual. But we’ve already measured a 3.6-second pass in a Boxster S equipped with the PDK and a 4.3-second run with the manual.

Subjectively, the GTS is not obviously quicker than an S model. In fact, Porsche claims only a 2.0-second-quicker lap time around the Nürburgring for the GTS—7:40 versus 7:42. But, like the S model, the GTS will produce pure stoke when it goes on sale early next spring. Finding its rhythm on a track or a deserted road is a pinnacle experience among any of today’s sports cars. These Porsches are cars that talk, cars that listen, and cars that dance confidently across the edge of grip and back—top or no top.

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