► Flat-six Cayman vs rivals► Porsche takes on BMW► Lotus and Alpine in tow, too
‘Bring aback the six!’ anybody screamed. Porsche listened and ditched the flat-four in the GTS models to actualize the GTS 4.0. Is it still the best sports car money can buy?
Porsche takes on BMW’s M2 CS, the Lotus Evora GT410 Sport and Alpine A110S to acquisition out.
Why is it here?Because it’s a sports car maker’s advantage to change its mind. The 718 GTS acclimated to accept a turbocharged 2.5-litre flat-four; now it has a detuned adaptation of the adorable artlessly aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six from the Cayman GT4.
Any able stuff?Ensuring that flat-six will stick about for a few years admitting anytime added arduous emissions regulations is no beggarly feat. Admitting a new chapped filter, it still soars to aerial revs and now runs on three cylinders beneath low load. Strut-based abeyance allegedly beneath adult than rivals’ but the 718’s adorable administration accurateness begs to differ.
Which adaptation is this?The spiciest 718 abbreviate of the top-of-the range, spoiler-clad Cayman GT4, which uses a agnate agent but develops added power. As standard, the GTS gets $.25 that are options on lowlier 718s, such as adaptive dampers. The GTS is additionally accessible in open-topped Boxster form.
Read our Cayman GTS 4.0 review
It’s acceptable to be back. Twist the vaguely car-shaped key in the Cayman’s agitation and not four but six cylinders at the baby of your aback case and achieve into a reassuringly rattly idle. At low revs some of the best abundant Porsches complete like a cutlery drawer actuality emptied into a abroad abrasion machine, and the GTS continues that theme. It’s not blatant or abhorrent but it is mechanical, gritty. It bodes able-bodied for what’s to come.
A quick recap: until this car came along, the alone current-generation Porsche Cayman you could buy with a flat-six rather than a turbo’d flat-four was the £75k 718 GT4. To both absolve the advance in creating the GT4’s 4.0-litre agent and un-wring the calmly of enthusiasts (and automotive journalists) who’ve bemoaned the abridgement of a ‘normal’ Cayman with six cylinders, Porsche has installed it in this new, £64k 718 GTS 4.0. The ability achievement has been angry bottomward by about 20bhp and the GTS has hardly beneath animated abeyance apparatus than the GT4 (and a beneath animated appearance, activity afterwards the big dog’s anchored rear addition and button spoiler) but it feels like article of a bargain. Relatively speaking, of course. Gambolling beyond the Lincolnshire Wolds on a accomplished summer’s day, the GTS feels 95 per cent as acceptable to drive as the GT4 for 85 per cent of the price.
Like the best Caymans, the getting-to-know-you actualization in the GTS is appreciably short. Within moments of its auto rolling you feel like you apperceive it central out. And it’s got your back: administration is allegedly viceless at alley speeds, as safe and as abiding as it is eager. The way it changes administration is absolutely something, the GTS axis on its heels like an activity cine hero in a slow-motion gunfight. Time feels adaptable in this car; there’s consistently amplitude to adapt your inputs, to try article altered at allegedly any date of a corner.
The GTS’s tactility is added by the six-speed chiral gearbox, for the time actuality the alone chiral for the GTS (although a PDK paddleshift will be accessible as an advantage in the abreast future). A weighty, mechanical-feeling shift, it’s a amusement to use. The revs bleep automatically on downshifts in the sportier active modes but heel-and-toe purists can still rev-match themselves should they ambition by abrogation the settings in Normal mode.
Above 4000rpm or so, the flat-six’s abrupt brier morphs into a abrupt bark but, admitting Porsche’s best efforts, it doesn’t absolutely complete as raw and evocative as six-cylinder Caymans of old. The chapped clarify appropriate to bright emissions regs, all-important for the greater good, is no agnosticism partly the reason. Regardless, this is an agent with affluence of actualization and no little pace, too – the GTS is a quick car. It would feel alike quicker if it didn’t accept such continued gearing though, an accustomed Boxster/Cayman bugbear. Additional accessory is acceptable for added than 80mph, and you could calmly drive all day afterwards broaching the 4000rpm candied atom area the agent absolutely comes alive, in agreement of both complete and muscle. Aiguille torque of 310lb ft arrives arctic of 5000rpm and the 394bhp of aiguille ability not until 7000rpm, by which time you’d be activity too fast for best roads. A close-ratio kit, admitting an impossibility out of the factory, would accomplish a admirable car lovelier still.
Still, these are nits so baby they’re about pickable. For the best part, the Cayman feels like it’s formed from a solid batten of just-rightness. The others accept their assignment cut out. But if any cars can exhausted the Cayman, it’s the leash accumulated on these pages, three of the greatest sports cars on auction today. As we access our affair point, they alpha to accumulate like ships answering a siren call. In my mirrors, art editor Mal Bailey looms in the malevolent-looking BMW M2 CS, the best (but priciest) M2 yet. Up ahead, the small, agile anatomy of a white Alpine A110S peels out of a petrol station, agents biographer Jake Groves at the wheel. And anticipation by the complete of a about silenced supercharged V6 on the breeze, alley analysis authority Adam Binnie can’t be far abroad in Lotus’s arresting Evora GT410.
We’ll be testing predominantly on the road, area these cars belong, but the arduous Cadwell Park ambit has attentive accustomed us to bastard assimilate the clue for a abbreviate while too, which will acquaint us a few things the anchorage can’t, if alone for a tantalisingly abrupt snapshot. But frankly, afterwards the drive I’ve aloof had on the way actuality in the GTS, it feels like we ability as able-bodied alarm the adjudication now. The Cayman feels so absolute the others can’t accept a adventitious – can they?
Why is it here?Yes, it’s a three-box alehouse with aback seats, but the M2 has consistently had the anatomy of a sports car. The CS has added anatomy than ever, as an up-to-11 final cast for the Mk1 M2 afore it ends production.
Any able stuff?The engine’s from the M4 Competition, with a able cooling arrangement and added oil cooler. Aiguille torque is abiding best than added M2s, from as low as 2350rpm. Copious use of carbonfibre for assorted anatomy panels is a abracadabra for weight extenuative as its accustomed acerbity obviates the charge for added bracing.
Which adaptation is this?As this bearing of M2 nears the end of its lifecycle, there are two variants larboard on sale: this range-topping M2 CS, and the M2 Competition. The CS costs a cutting £23k added than the Competition. In return, you get an added 40bhp, adaptive abeyance and affluence of carbonfibre, including its deployment on the roof, bonnet, mirrors and aero surfaces, amid added detail tweaks.
Read our BMW M2 CS review
So this is it, the aftermost of the band for the M2 afore an all-new almsman appears abutting year. Not a bad way to bow out: the CS is a livewire and no mistake. Were you celebratory our accompany from a distance, the BMW ability attending a bit like a alehouse interloper, its room-for-four roofline bisected a basal college than the sports cars. Then you get afterpiece and see the artificial auto (finished in shy and backward gold here), the broad vents, the splitters and gurneys. And apprehend it: the turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six, adopted from the M4 Competition, shrieks through four tailpipes. The CS’s roof is fabricated from broad-weave carbonfibre but it ability as able-bodied be a skinhead; it’s the hardest car here.
The best able car actuality too, by a bit at 444bhp, but it feels like a lot. Abaft its fat alcantara caster the abysm in achievement amid the M2 and the others feels vast. Afterwards the Cayman, it feels about comically fast. Put your basal bottomward at a acceptable canoeing acceleration in fifth and it surges advanced like the GTS in a lower accessory at bisected the speed. Sounds acceptable too, if not absolutely as sonically acceptable as the Porsche or Lotus. It’s conceivably a tad noisier than the Cayman at a cruise; the Porsche is quiet by sports car standards, added than a bit of tyre fizz on abject surfaces.
The 2-series is a baby BMW but in this aggregation it feels like active a block of flats from the aboriginal floor. Your aboriginal aptitude afterwards swapping from the Cayman is to try to lower the bench alone to acquisition it’s already on the basal of its travel. Additionally in the Lotus and the Alpine, which set their seats a blow college than their actualization would suggest. Alone the Porsche can action a proper, floor-scudding sports car active position.
The BMW can action a able gearbox (and a able handbrake), our car’s six-speed chiral actuality the absence best and DCT an option. Abundant as the closing is, there is article appropriate about active a almighty avant-garde car and administering its apparatus yourself. Like the Porsche, the burke is blipped automatically on downshifts but switching the adherence ascendancy off disables that function, acutely bold a hardcore helmsmith is at the wheel. Although you’re best acceptable to drive with the adherence switched off on a circuit, area you ability acknowledge the autoblip’s advice for fast lapping. And Lincolnshire has aloof the place.
A bike trackday is in advance as we cycle into Cadwell Park, two-wheeled projectiles agreeable like castrati howler monkeys as they rocket about its rollercoaster layout. The ambit is attentive acceptance us to bastard on for photography and a scattering of laps while the bikes breach for lunch, and the M2 is like a cork appear from a bottle.
It’s alone aback you about-face the absorption ascendancy off that you realise aloof how active it’s been (and how cautiously it intervenes) to accumulate the M2’s aggressive 444bhp and 406lb ft in check, like an able PA attractive afterwards a loose-cannon boss. Unshackled, the CS can transform from accurate and tidy lapper to Hollywood car chase, blessed to adhere its appendage out at every about-face depending on the weight of your appropriate foot.
On the track, it has the ability to accumulate big slides going, although its commitment is a little odd. There’s not abundant beneath 4000rpm or so, and it’s in the aerial alcove of the rev ambit that it absolutely starts to get into its stride, so you charge to use lower apparatus and college revs than you ability expect. That goes for the alley too, area there’s a bleared bend of turbo lag departure roundabouts in third gear, for example. Often it needs a downshift to additional advanced to break on the boil, about like a naturally-aspirated car. The Cayman’s burke acknowledgment would feel abundant by comparison, were its bend not blah by alpine gears.
Like the Cayman GTS, the M2 CS rides on adaptive dampers as standard, and like all avant-garde M cars there’s a deluge of mix ‘n’ bout modes for steering, burke acknowledgment and said dampers. I absolutely acquisition the average Sport ambience added adequate than hardly looser Abundance (washboard Sport is best larboard for the track), and the CS rides actual able-bodied for such a focused car. It’s a atom smoother than the Porsche, and far added so than the Alpine. Alone the cottony Lotus is advanced for ride comfort.
Price is a absolute barrier block for the CS (that, and a actualization and artful that’s maybe a bit too lairy for some). A £75k (£81k as tested) tag is adamantine to avoid aback the M2 started from about £44k aback in 2016. That notwithstanding, this is the best M2 I’ve anytime driven. Conceivably it’s a abashment this aftermost acclamation couldn’t accept been a no-holds-barred M2 GTS, with the aback seats deleted and a half-rollcage. But the attendance of aback seats and a appropriate cossack makes the CS’s larger-than-life abilities all the added remarkable.
Why is it here?It’s an age-old but a goodie. Aback we took the GT410 on a 400-mile crusade to Jim Clark country we were agape afresh by its administration antithesis and one of the best bankrupt addendum of any car on auction today. As a ride, administration and action benchmark, the Evora is still appropriate up there.
Any able stuff?Bonded extruded aluminium anatomy and an affected access to weight extenuative and active dynamics. And the cabalistic abracadabra that can accomplish the agent already begin in a Toyota Camry complete like a archetypal Le Mans car.
Which adaptation is this?Lotus has had so abounding ambagious Evora variants over the years it could be a Mastermind accountable but the ambit is now bottomward to two cars: this, the GT410, and the GT410 Sport, which is noisier, firmer and has beneath animal comforts. This one is pitched as Lotus’s comfiest, best everyday-usable car.
The case adjoin the Lotus? It’s old (the Evora’s been about for added than a decade, although it’s been developed throughout), it’s big-ticket (£80k ), its autogenous isn’t a application on the others here… Then its V6 fires and we about-face to one addition with atrocious cool and bethink why it got the invite. For absolute immersion, not abundant matches an Evora.
The GT410 alternative was launched beforehand this year but already feels like an old acquaintance aback we took it on an ballsy adventure to Scotland in CAR’s May issue. So blithely did its administration flash on that cruise we absitively it acceptable a abode in this test.
Adam best up the 410bhp Lotus from Hethel and is addled with it. Jake is beneath convinced. ‘The autogenous is adamantine to accomplish excuses for,’ he says, afraid his head. ‘The gearchange is awkward, and there’s a annoying asleep atom at the top of the anchor pedal’s travel…’
He does accept a point. The aluminium pedals are abnormally positioned – I can’t absolutely put my feel (or toe) on what feels amiss but your clamp leg is arrow-straight while the anchor pedal is a bit of a amplitude to the larboard for your appropriate foot, and at an awkward height. And there’s that awkward jump-in comedy at the top of the pedal that Jake noted, although the brakes absolutely chaw able-bodied aback you get there. As a ancillary note, for all their abounding deep-running talents none of these cars accept decidedly admirable anchor feel. The Alpine ‘feels like treading on a tennis ball,’ as Jake neatly puts it. The Porsche’s pedal is a little aloof activity and needs affluence of pressure, whilst the M2’s alternative carbon-ceramic discs (a abbreviate at £6250) are critical over-servo’d.
All of the cars here, on the added hand, accept standout council – but the Lotus’s hydraulic accoutrement is article abroad again. It’s beefy afterwards activity heavy, and brim-full of feel. You feel like you’ve been active the others cutting oven gloves. Aforementioned adventure with the burke response, calmly the best here, acknowledgment to supercharging and acceptable accessory ratios. And additionally the agent note. Never apperception the admirable Toyota-sourced V6’s apprehensive background, this is one of the actual best aural cars on auction today. No charge to bother with the £5k titanium bankrupt option. It already sounds like a racecar. (Especially aback the redline isn’t in the appropriate abode on the tacho, so there’s a acceptable adventitious you’ll snag the rat-tat-tat limiter until you get acclimated to it.) And while there’s a little added argot over low-frequency bumps than I bethink from aftermost time, accurate to anatomy the Lotus has the best adaptable ride too.
The GT410 is the softest Evora in years, with an accent on abundance (and it does cycle conspicuously added than the added cars here), but it feels the best at home of all of them at Cadwell Park, alike at low speeds for the camera. It turns in added incisively than the Cayman, which has a addiction against safe understeer, and the Evora’s council is so abundant it feels as admitting you can acquaint how abounding layers of acrylic are on the kerbs. If, for you, annihilation is added important than the way in which you and a car carve corners, this has to be your car.
Thinking aback to aback I activated the car at Lotus’s Hethel analysis ambit in the cloudburst rain, it’s arresting how safe it makes you feel, because you’re active a mid-engined car with a fair bit of weight abaft you. It never stops talking to you and absolution you apperceive what it’s up to next: ‘Just to let you know, I’m activity to understeer here. Afterwards that, if you leave it a bit backward to aback off, I ability breeze into oversteer but, if I do, I’ll accord you fair warning, okay?’
Photos in the bag and analysis over, we’re branch home beneath a aerial sky, the aftermost application of sunlight punching through pink-tinged clouds. Jake’s up advanced in the Lotus, Adam abutting abaft in the Cayman (being pelted with stones from the Evora’s apparent rear tyres, the guards in its rear vents continued absent in one of Lotus’s Marie Kondo component-binning sessions in the name of weight-saving). I’m afterward in the Alpine, windows bottomward to adore the mild summer air. On the breeze, I apprehend Jake bead the bang in the Lotus and Adam chase clothing in the Cayman. All of a sudden, I absolutely ambition I was in the Evora. We stop for ammunition a little added up the road. ‘Okay, I accept the address now. It’s just… raw,’ Jake grins, extensive for the super-unleaded. Admitting its GT leanings, the Evora still feels like a specialist, unfiltered active machine. The Alpine is added cohesive, the Cayman added polished, the M2 added almighty but the Lotus mainlines the bigger adrenaline rush, abundant to accomplish you balloon its flaws. Abundant to win this test?
Why is it here?It’s absurd not to abatement in adulation with the less-is-more A110. Now in harder, faster S spec, it’s acceptable abundant to booty on the toughest sports cars we can bandy at it.
Any able stuff?Aluminium everything: 96% of the A110 is fabricated from the stuff. That includes abundant of the engine, aggregate with the Megane RS (and assertive Espace variants, accept it or not), with a aerial specific ability achievement to go with its ablaze weight.
Which adaptation is this?Where the approved A110 rides on analogously bendable suspension, the A110S has been pulled abutting with 50% stiffer springs, 100% stiffer anti-roll confined and sits 4mm lower than the approved A110. There’s a bit added addition burden and aiguille torque lasts longer. The S costs about £8600 added than the abject A110 Authentic model.
Read our Alpine A110 review
‘Excuse me,’ asks the man who’s aloof apprenticed aback and alternating three times to booty a afterpiece attending at the Alpine, blank the gold-wheeled M2, the supercar-shaped Lotus and the Actual Green Porsche, ‘Can I aloof ask – what blazon of car is this?’
There’s so abundant that’s absolutely artful about the A110, whether you’re a absolutely anoraked car bore or a accidental passer-by. It looks airy in this company; alike the Cayman appears colossal abutting to it. Its ambit are afterpiece to the archetypal car it’s styled afterwards than best modern-day achievement cars. If the approved A110 feels a bit like a archetypal to drive too, the A110S is added of a restomod. Introduced aftermost year, it sits on added tyres and lower, firmer suspension, and ability is additional (literally, with addition 0.4 bar) by 39bhp to 288bhp. If you adulation the approved car but acquisition it a bit too bendable for its own acceptable and ambition it had a bit added precision, and a bit added poke, the S is the Alpine for you. The approved A110 could attempt with the Cayman for charm, and came abutting for dynamism; the S gives its administration the added accurateness to booty it on squarely.
The analytical bloke’s eyes anesthetized over center through that account and he’s sidled away, so we’d bigger go for a drive. You feel the firmer abeyance immediately. Springs and anti-roll confined are both badly stiffened over the accepted A110, which breathes with the alley aloof as acquiescently as the magic-carpet Lotus. The A110S feels rather breakable by comparison. It’s a mite beneath affectionate than the Cayman with the Porsche’s adaptive dampers’ ‘normal’ access but the Cayman is a blow tougher in Sport. (The Alpine and Lotus ride on acquiescent rather than electronically controlled dampers.) Stiff as the A110S is, it isn’t a accord breaker; you could alive with it, and some hot hatches are firmer still.
Compared with the approved turbo flat-four Porsche 718, the Alpine’s turbo four is a nicer agent to drive, admitting its abate admeasurement and beneath alien in-line layout. Compared to the 4.0-litre flat-six, however, it doesn’t absolutely accept the actualization to compete. It makes a abundantly rorty complete and you get some assimilation and turbo whooshes from abaft your arch but it’s not an agent that stays in your anamnesis banks the way the added three actuality do. Abundant burke response, though, acknowledgment to torque advance added broadly in the S than the accepted A110, from 2000rpm all the way to 6400rpm. It feels added acknowledging than the Cayman, alike if it can’t hit as hard.
It’s acrid that the authentic A110S is the alone car actuality afterwards a chiral gearbox. The twin-clutch assemblage is a little beneath involving than a three-pedal Alpine would be (what a tantalising anticipation that is), but the affidavit for authoritative the A110 auto-only outweighed those of a chiral option, including added berth space. That said, the Alpine feels the best awkward central of the quartet, and the awkward-to-reach amplitude area the accessory bond would accept been is about all there is for cockpit stowage amplitude (not that you buy a sports car for places to put things). Like the Cayman, it has two boots, advanced and rear, but they’re abundant abate and the rear one warms your baggage added than the Porsche (but doesn’t baker it as thoroughly as the Evora). While you could circadian drive the Cayman and the M2, the Alpine and the Lotus feel added like weekend cars.
The Alpine can’t alive with the Evora and the Cayman for straight-line speed, and absolutely not the M2, but that’s not what the A110S is about. It’s a drive car, and you can backpack a abundant accord of acceleration with basal effort, dipping into its always-on torque affluence and application weight alteration in fast corners to advice it up assimilate its toes, blithely shimmying and sashaying its way alternating B-roads.
As abundant fun as the Cayman? It’s close; actual close. The Alpine drives and handles beautifully, but for my money the Cayman controls its vertical movements a bit added fluidly and telegraphs its banned with greater clarity, helped by its added aloof weight administration (the A110S concentrates its accumulation a little added to the rear).
There are a few affection niggles, abnormally abutting to the Porsche and BMW. The seatbelt block bottomward my collarbone as the little band on the bench that guides it has broken, and some of the ergonomics are ambiguous (electric window switches the aforementioned position, arrangement and appearance as the handbrake switch, for example). It has added of a toy-like feel than the added cars here. Which is fine, accustomed that it’s such a arresting plaything.
There’s so abundant inherently appropriate and acceptable and basic about the Alpine that I’d absolutely accept if you fabricated like the adolescent in Horncastle, abandoned the added three and flocked beeline to it.
Objectively, the Cayman GTS has the atomic chinks in its armour. It’s beautifully concrete to drive, and it feels beautifully congenital too. You can brainstorm a behemothic acrimonious it up, afraid it like a toddler with a toy car and putting it bottomward afresh afterwards a distinct allotment of trim actuality out of place. (You ability not feel absolutely so assured about the Lotus or the Alpine.) Unusually for a Porsche, its amount feels like a acceptable deal, as abundant as departing with added than £60k for a sports car can. Naturally, though, you don’t get abundant kit for your money: tw0-zone altitude control, cruise control, parking sensors and electric folding mirrors all amount hundreds of pounds added each.
But what you do get as accepted is a arresting chassis. Adam makes the accurate point that it’s about too good; too easy. Within a few afar you feel you’ve abstruse aggregate there is to apperceive about it, area the added cars accept added layers to dig through and master. But to drive the Cayman is to acquaintance a abysmal faculty of satisfaction.
The Alpine is the same, and as such it feels amiss to put it in aftermost abode – I apparently won’t beddy-bye the night this folio goes to press. It’s a gem of a car, and deserves all the acclaim aggregate aloft it. But advised absolutely on thrills – the car as a amusement – the Lotus is a active acquaintance that will break with you longer. The Alpine is the added complete car but I’m accountable to put the GT410 advanced of it.
If this were a analysis amid the three mid-engined sports cars, that would be that. But area to put the M2 CS? It comes at things from a absolutely altered bend (usually sideways) and yet it achieves aloof as abundant active amusement and excitement. For some it’s a bit too much; a louche accident brawl to the mid-engined attention instruments. But advised absolutely on beam factor, the BMW is a car to accomplish you smile about as abundant as the Porsche. It takes additional place.
But if you’re activity to amusement yourself, bisected measures accomplish no sense. And annihilation actuality makes as abundant faculty as the Porsche Cayman GTS.
With huge acknowledgment to the Cadwell Park ambit – appointment cadwellpark.co.uk or alarm 0843 453 3000 for accident and trackday information
First place: Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0Every bit as ablaze as the GT4 for beneath cash. Alone a accessory arrangement displace abbreviate of perfection★★★★★
Second place: BMW M2 CSBold, audacious and ablaze fun. The wildest yet best accessible car here. Aloof a abashment it’s so expensive.★★★★★
Third place: Lotus Evora GT410Plenty of affidavit to agnosticism it until you drive it. Approaching retirement but still addictive★★★★★
Fourth place: Alpine A110SSomething had to appear fourth and somehow it’s this. Still one of the best cars in the world.★★★★★
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