In the ‘718’ guise, the Cayman’s classic mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout remains but has been further developed with the addition of a more powerful flat four engine that claims to have re-invented the car for a new era. Add in sleeker looks that really offer up that ‘want one’ factor and you’re looking at an obvious choice in its segment, a supercar in all but price tag.
The four-cylinder 2. 0-litre and 2. 5-litre turbocharged engines of the 718 Cayman are a very different proposition to the flat-six normally aspirated motors previously used. Some will mourn the change in engine noise, though the latest units have their own distinctive character when revved hard – and they’re certainly more powerful than before. The entry-level model comes with 300bhp, good enough to see off 0-62mph in as little as 4. 7 seconds if you go for the PDK seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and use the optional Launch Control system. Pick that gearbox and mate it to the 2. 5-litre motor found in the Cayman S variant and that sprint can be completed in just 4. 2 seconds. Top speeds see the standard 718 Cayman hit up to 168mph, while this S version maxes out at 177mph. Even so, you can also expect to see strong efficiency returns, especially with that optional PDK auto ‘box fitted. Expect combined economy of up to 40. 9mpg for the smaller capacity model, along with 158g/km carbon dioxide emissions - or 38. 7mpg and 167g/km for the S version.
As well as being quicker than its predecessor in a straight line, the 718 model also benefits from quicker-feeling steering, thicker anti-roll bars and a more focused suspension set-up. It all means that the Cayman remains the best handling car in its class, with even greater reserves of balance and cornering control. You can embellish that further with optional ‘Porsche Active Suspension Management’ adaptive damping and ‘Porsche Torque Vectoring’ that maximises traction through the bends. You’re probably also going to want the optional ‘Sport Chrono Package’ with its selectable driving modes that alter the way the engine, steering, suspension and PDK gearbox react. Pick the PDK gearbox and the ‘Sport Chrono’ pack comes with ‘Launch Control’ for Grand Prix getaways, plus a ‘SPORT Response’ button that aids quick overtaking by putting the engine and transmission into their most alert calibrations for 20 seconds.
Does it look like a 911? The uninitiated might think so but visually at least, the Cayman is these days no longer a lesser, rather clumsy copy of that car. Instead, it is a different, slightly smaller more agile-looking coupe that in this ‘982’ series form, shares only its bonnet, boot and windscreen with the previous ‘981’ generation Cayman that Porsche launched back in 2012.
The headlamps, which are larger than before, get more prominence on the wings and feature four LED daytime running lights that sit at the corners of the main Bi-Xenon lamp units. Also rather pretty are the slender lights that sit above much larger air intakes that are there for extra cooling and represent perhaps the most prominent visual expression of this model’s new turbo engine concept.
As for the cabin. You’ll want to know what’s different – and at first glance, as with the outside, the answer seems to be not a whole lot. Look a little closer though and again, the changes become more apparent. The entire upper part of the dashboard has been re-designed for example, hence the elegance of the elevated air vents. But you’re more likely to notice the installation of the new central ‘PCM’ ‘Porsche Communication Management’ screen that dominates the centre stack.
As for luggage space, well the mid-mounting of the Cayman’s flat-six engine has always been a big plus in this regard. Okay, so your service technician might not immediately agree, but you will value the utility of having two boot options, a 150-litre area at the front which can easily accommodate two or three squashy bags, with a further 184-litres of shallower but wider storage at the back.
If Porsche had launched the Cayman with four cylinders from the very beginning, no one would have anything but praise to shower upon this car. The power you have is surely more important than the cylinder count – and the improved 718 Cayman is significantly faster than any of its predecessors. Beyond that though, we’ve tried to show why a flat-four format better suits the car in terms of its responsible development, market positioning and even historical context. There’s a price to pay for that of course and, like the Cayman’s other admirers, we miss in the ‘982’ series car the sonorous howl under full throttle that so characterised previous versions.
Still, if you can afford the Porsche’s premium, you’d like a fixed-top model and you’re shopping in this part of the sportscar segment, we think you’ll absolutely want a 718 Cayman, the best car of its kind that money can buy. There’s nothing else that needs to be said.