Automotive Evolution

Those of you who follow me, probably know that I left my last car related post, “Balance or Brawn?“, with an open ended conclusion.

“Is there a solution here to my comparison, a “perfect performance car”?

…Stay tuned…”

The Mazda Miata RF and the Dodge Charger Hellcat

After a ton of thought, analysis, soul searching, second guessing myself, and other forms of self-inflicted mental torture, I have reached a conclusion to that story. I have chosen to have both, but perhaps not in the way that you might think.

I sold both my cars — the Miata RF Grand Touring and my Dodge Charger Hellcat.

Wait, what?!

“You gave up a perfectly good, practical 4 seater for a two seater that doesn’t even have a V8?”, said a good friend.

Yes, I did, and here is why.

I used those proceeds to buy a …

…2019 Porsche Cayman GTS.

My 2019 Porsche Cayman GTS

I guess you could say that I’ve had an evolution in my car thinking. The Miata taught me that a proper sports car needs to be small, light and nimble. In fact, after having the Miata for awhile, I just wasn’t driving the Hellcat much. But, the Miata was missing that electrifying acceleration.

The Hellcat definitely had that! Yet after the balance and poise of the Miata, I wanted power I could use; power that was balanced with the car. The Hellcat overpowers itself. Too much throttle too quickly, and all hell breaks loose.

So, I had started researching again, and I kept coming across the Porsche 718’s. Car and Driver and Motor Trend have both given the Cayman and Boxster top rated reviews for their handling, balance and overall driveability.

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Porsche 718 Cayman GTS profile. Those are large side air intakes for the mid-engine flat four.

The 718’s are Porsche’s mid engine cars. The Cayman is the two-door coupe, and the Boxster is the two-door roadster. The engine is just behind the seats, but in front of the rear wheels. The Cayman is about 18 inches longer than the Miata, but still quite compact at less than 180 inches. It weighs a little over 3000 pounds; very light compared to the Charger that was almost 4500 pounds.

I had extensively researched the new Corvette C8 as it is brutally powerful and a mid-engine as well. But it is big and it’s rather heavy. Plus, there were none to even try out. So I ruled it out. After more research, I happened upon a 2019 Cayman GTS that was marked down substantially to make room for the 2020 models. I took a test drive, and that was it.

Cayman GTS Front 1 wp
3/4 front view of the Cayman GTS. the car is really wide and low – only 51 inches tall, 2 inches more than the Miata. The front features the radiator and intercoolers for the turbo.

Garage space at my house was maxed out, and I was having trouble using both cars enough to justify the costs. So, I made the pragmatic decision if owning a Porsche is ever pragmatic.

The Cayman GTS really is a blend of the Miata and Hellcat. It has a 2.5 liter flat four boxer engine pumping out 365 horsepower (about 1/2 of the Hellcat) with 316 pound feet of torque.

According to Car and Driver, the Cayman GTS can hit 60 mph in about 3.4 seconds, the same as the Hellcat. It feels faster than the Hellcat, at least to 90 mph. The Cayman GTS has Porsche’s PDK double-clutch 7 speed auto, made by ZF, the same company that produces the 8 speed triple-clutch auto in the Hellcat. In both cars, the shifts are lightening fast and brutal when in sport modes.

Like the Charger, the Cayman has wonderfully supportive seats with numerous adjustments. The technology is comparable in both cars with really good navigation and entertainment systems.

This shows the drive modes selector on the lower right steering wheel, the G force gauge and some of the center console.

The GTS is near the top performance line in the 718’s. The racing heritage is evident throughout the car, but it is also comfortable with a decent amount of storage. The Cayman has a rear hatch with a storage area comparable to the Miata’s trunk and another front trunk (a frunk?) that’s another 150 liters (about 5.3 cubic feet). Porsche scored wins at Le Mans in 2017 with the new 718 4 cylinder models. And like the Miata, the Cayman is quite fuel efficient, getting 30+ mpg (miles per gallon) on the highway so far.

Looking into the car from the rear hatch, showing the cargo shelf and the oil and coolant filler caps.

So is the Cayman as fun to drive as the Miata?

At a quick stop in the west desert of northern Utah looking toward the Stansbury Mountains with Deseret Peak looming ahead.

The 718 Cayman GTS is simply unbelievable to drive! Cornering is effortless, and the grip is incredible. The car really is almost one with you. You can feel that racing pedigree in every gear change, and through every corner. Each system on the car is nearly perfectly coordinated with every other system to achieve superb balance and control.

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The Cayman GTS with the rear wing extended. It automatically extends at speeds above 75 mph (121 kph), or it can be manually extended.

The 718 is at another level above the Miata’s already stunning balance and control. Mashing the accelerator pedal produces astonishing straight line acceleration, pushing your head back against the seat. But where the Hellcat is fishtailing, trying to find the straight line, the Cayman is under superb control right off the line.

The GTS model comes standard with Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV). When the car is driven aggressively into a turn, the computer system applies slight breaking to the inside rear wheel, thus generating more turning momentum as the outside rear wheel is spinning faster than the inside rear wheel.

Cayman GTS profile wp
Here is a profile shot. This is a serious road car with substantial brakes and very large air intakes for that turbocharged Porsche boxer engine.

The GTS also comes standard with PASM – Porsche Active Suspension Management. The ride height is lowered versus the base Cayman, and the suspension system is electronically controlled similarly to the Hellcat. The springs are shorter and stiffer, and the anti-sway bars are stiffer as well. In “normal” mode the ride is sporty, but comfortable. In “sport mode” the ride tightens up as does the already incredible handling. This car’s race breeding shines through in almost all aspects of its design and features.

The Cayman GTS also features the “Sport Chrono Package” which among other things includes four driving modes – Normal, Sport, Sport+, and Individual (in which you can program different features of the various drive modes). It also features a “launch control” as well as a “sport response” mode that primes the engine for maximum response and boost for 20 seconds.

This view shows the engine torque gauge in the right cluster and another shot of the drive mode selector with the sport response button on the lower right wheel.

A 718 Cayman S (with a 350 hp 2.5 liter engine) was considerably faster around Car and Driver’s Lightening Laps at Virginia International Raceway than a 797 hp Hellcat Redeye Challenger. So much for nearly 800 horses.

Do I miss the Charger? Yes, I loved it. I will always have a special place for the Mopar Muscle Cars. The comfort, the ride and the sheer brutality of power is just unmatched.

Rear Wheel-brake wp
Here is the large driver’s side engine air intake just behind the door. Notice the large rear brakes — racing heritage.

But now I enter a new chapter in my car saga, one with a high performance, lightweight sports car. The Cayman GTS is fast and loud like a muscle car, but also balanced, nimble and an overall superb road car. It is addictive to drive. You just want to be in it; it’s that good. I have always thought that one pays for the logo on cars like Porsches. But no; you are paying for the race proven engineering that makes these cars so thoroughly enchanting to drive.

Front wheel-brake wp
Here is a close-up of the front wheel and brakes. Porsche makes their own brakes. these are large, 4 piston units with drilled and vented rotors.

Thank you Mazda Miata for helping me realize what a true sports car should be. (And yes, I really miss the Miata. The beauty of simplicity cannot be forgotten.)

Rear detail wp
Here is the rear detail with the extendable wing and the dual exhaust. The black accents are part of the GTS package.

I hope you have enjoyed the thoughts and insight into my automotive evolution. I am still a little anguished over selling the Hellcat, but practicality had to reign — I wanted some of my shop space back. It just makes more sense all around to go back to one toy.

And here is Porsche crest featuring the galloping horse of Stuttgart. My wife says it looks like an Arabian, and she should know.

This has all been kept this under wraps now for about 6 weeks. It has taken time to come to grips with my decision as well as still processing that I own a Porsche. I would have never imagined that only a few months ago.

Well, thank you very much for stopping by and visiting by blog. Drop me a note and let me know what you think. And, stay well everyone!

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