- Available for £35,000
- 2.0- or 2.5-litre turbo flat four, or 4.0-litre NA flat six
- Superb mix of handling, quality and performance
- Six-pots sound better than fours but are a lot more expensive
- 2019-on Cayman T could be the best all-round model
- Not much goes wrong, so extended warranties are affordable
If you lived in a horrid world in which you could only have one car to do everything - handle, go, and not cost the earth to run - what would be your choice? For more than a few, the answer to that question might well be the 982-model Porsche 718 Cayman that arrived on the scene in the autumn of 2016. It wasn't for everyone, mind.
A certain amount of customer adjustment had been required in mid-2016 when the 718 Boxster premiered the new 982s, owing to the replacement of the 'usual' Porsche flat-six engine by a new, smaller capacity (2.0 litre) turbocharged flat-four producing 300hp. There were no complaints about the efficiency of the new motor, or about its ability to move the Boxster/Cayman up the road at a fierce rate, which it did thanks to its 66lb ft of extra torque relative to the 2012-16 981. Most of the muttering was about the four-cylinder engine's ability to inspire. That argument was well aired at the time, so we won't rehash it now.
Although the new-for-2016 982 Cayman that we're looking at here didn't seem massively different to the 981 from a distance, it was comprehensively altered with a revised front and rear look and just about every body part bar the bootlid, bonnet and front screen being replaced. There was new, harder-sprung suspension, with a stiffer rear subframe and extra 'helper' springs at the rear to reduce lift under power. The back tyres were half an inch wider than before, and the steering gearing (nicked from the 911 Turbo) was 10 per cent quicker. Despite the PDK-gearboxed car being around 30kg heavier than the manual it was 0.2 seconds quicker through the 0-62mph run and 10g/km cleaner on CO2 emissions.
The S version that came out in September 2016 had a 2,497cc VTG (Variable Turbine Geometry) version of the turbo flat-four generating 350hp at 6,500rpm and 310lb ft between 1,900 and 4,500rpm. That gave it a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds and a combined economy figure of 34.9mpg. An S with the PDK box and the Sport Plus package had a launch control facility and was quicker to 62mph than the preceding 981 Cayman GT4, which was no slouch. The S was about 20kg heavier than the basic Cayman, but it had beefed-up braking with four-piston calipers and chunkier discs from the 911 Carrera.
Introduced for the 2018 model year, the 2.5 GTS was the top of the 982 range at the time. Uprating its VTG turbo gave it 15hp more than the S and 35hp more than the old 981 GTS. It weighed 1,450kg in manual form and 1,480kg with the PDK box.
2019 was a big year for the 718 that started with the debut of the Cayman T. This didn't change the mechanical specs of the basic car, but it did offer a more focused chassis. It had Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) which included a mechanical limited-slip diff, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with a 20mm drop in ride height, active drivetrain mounts, 20-inch wheels, and Sport Chrono giving a customisable driving mode and an intermediate stability control setting. The ride height drop was a biggie in every sense because, although you could specify T's sport chassis with PASM on the base Cayman, the height reduction in that case would only be 10mm (as it was on the S).
Inside the T you got a rather spiffy GT3-lite Alcantara steering wheel, fabric door pulls, 718 embroidered electronic sports seats and the no-cost choice of an infotainment system or a dash storage compartment. At just over £51,000 the T was only £700 or so less expensive than the more powerful S but you'd have to spend money on your S to get it up to the T's full chassis spec.
In early 2019 the 2.5 GTS was eclipsed in power by the GTS 4.0, which marked a return to the normally aspirated flat-six engine. Producing 400hp at 7,000rpm (revving to 7,800rpm) and 310lb ft at 5,000-6,500rpm, the manual GTS 4.0 weighed 1,405kg, while the PDK was 1,435kg. It did the 0-62 in 4.5 seconds or 4.0 with the PDK and went on to a top speed of 182mph (179mph with PDK).
More flat-six fun was to come later that year (2019) with the arrival of the 420hp/310lb ft GT4 which revved to 8,000rpm, ran to 189mph and did the 0-62 in 4.4 seconds (188mph and 3.9 PDK). It had side air intakes with sideblades and embossed GT4 logos, a fixed rear wing, adaptive GT sports suspension with GT brakes, and the usual welter of options including a heavily stitched cabin with the GT sports steering wheel, bigly bolstered, and shockingly named Sports seats Plus, door pull loops and the like. Those door pull loops might look cool, but some owners will quietly tell you that they're not that brilliant in practice.
The 718 Cayman that we're looking at here remains part of the Porsche range in 2022. It's currently priced from £46,540 for the manual and £48,540 for the PDK. Last we heard there could be a wait of 12 months or more between Cayman ordering and delivery in the UK. Some have been pleasantly surprised to get their cars in six months, but the way things are in the industry at the moment you shouldn't rely on 718 waiting times to shorten any time soon.
There's likely to be even more frustration in store if you want the latest one, the GT4 RS. Joining the range at the end of last year (2021), this is the most powerful Cayman ever and the first one to get the normally 911-exclusive RS treatment. The GT3-sourced 4.0-litre six of the PDK-only RS revs to 9,000rpm and generates 500hp at 8,400rpm. Allied to the usual RS weight-saving techniques and aero bits these stats make it good (it is said) for a 196mph top end, a 0-62 time of 3.4sec, a 0-100 of 7.1sec, and a Ring time 23 seconds shorter than the GT4's, which is borderline incredible. Expected to arrive on UK roads sometime in spring, the GT4 RS will be priced from £108,000 (hmm, right) with a Weissach package car to come.
Luckily, you can get yourself into a 718 Cayman for less than a third of that. Here's what you should know if you're pondering such a move. Without giving too much away, we would fully endorse that move. Well, nearly fully. Read on.
SPECIFICATION | PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN (2016-on)
Engine: 1,988cc flat four 16v turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@2,150-4,500rpm
0-62mph (secs): 5.1 (T man), 4.9 (T PDK), 4.7 (PDK + Sport Chrono)
Top speed (mph): 171
Weight (kg): 1,335 (man), 1,365 (PDK)
MPG (official combined): 40.9 (PDK), 34.9 (S)
CO2 (g/km): 158 (PDK)
Wheels (in): 8 x 18 (f), 9.5 x 18 (r)
Tyres: 235/45 (f), 265/45 (r)
On sale: 2016 - on
Price new: £48,834 (718 Cayman S, 2016)
Price now: from £35,000
ENGINE & GEARBOX
As noted earlier, the grafting on of a turbocharger more than compensated for the 718's switch to four-cylinder power. Planting the throttle in the midrange of the old six-pot car could be an exercise in waiting for something to happen, but the turbo's characteristics put a stop to all that, especially in the S, where booting the manual in top gear from 60mph would get you to 80mph more than a second sooner than the same process in the identically torque-endowed 981 GT4. 718 thrust was relatively miserly below 1,500rpm, but became meaningful from 2,500rpm and majestic from 3,000rpm, with next to no lag. Porsche diehards who wanted assistance in forgetting that the 718 was two cylinders short of a full picnic could buy the optional sports exhaust. It produced more noise, but whether it was the sort of noise you wanted more of was a different question
Some owners reported a slight misfire that went away when the car was turned off and on again. This could often be traced to battery condition which is very important on modern performance cars like this. You could get a useful early warning on that by reconfiguring the dash display to give you a voltage readout
It was a win-win on transmissions as the choice was between an excellent six-speed manual or an even more excellent seven-speed PDK dual-clutch auto. The 718's manual clutch didn't feel particularly unburstable in heavy use on either the Boxster or the Cayman but the long gearing and wide spread of torque from the turbo engine meant that average fuel consumption figures in the low 30s were easily attainable even with enthusiastic driving.
718 servicing was built around a one/two-year 10,000/20,000-mile schedule depending on the type of service. An intermediate service - oil and filter change and visual inspection - typically costs about £350 at a good independent. You'd need at least £150 more than that for an OPC. The interleaving 'maintenance' service - a more detailed check with more filters changed - comes in at around £450-£500 at an independent and getting on for £650 at the OPC. Brake fluid, spark plugs, and the aux polybelt/PDK transmission fluids are meant to be changed every two, four and six years respectively.
The standard warranty was three years. Unlike certain other Porsches of the past that you may have read about or even owned, there should be no automatic urge to get an extended warranty on a 718 as the reliability record so far has been very good. If, however, you are naturally suspicious about the longevity and potential replacement costs of things like the PCM comms unit or the PDK control module (for example) you might think differently. Two years' worth of Porsche Approved Warranty for a 718 would come in at about £1,400.
If your car was under a Porsche warranty, either new or official extended, the car had to be maintained by an Official Porsche Centre (OPC). Outside of warranty you could save a lot of money by taking it to an independent, ideally one with ex-OPC personnel and the best PIWIS diagnostic equipment to deliver information not just on fault codes but also on any naughty over-revving that might have taken place in previous lives.
GT4s built between the end of January 2021 and the beginning of March 2021 were recalled by Porsche to sort out a batch of non-spec conrods that could crack under hard use, causing bottom-end noise, stalling, power loss and potential oil leakage from damaged engine blocks. Engines that had already been run were exchanged in their entirety for new engines. Those that hadn't been run were given new conrods and (in the US at least) a shiny new 10-year engine warranty.
Water pumps and thermostats have been known to fail. A malfunctioning water pump could cause a coolant leak to a vacuum hose, potentially gumming up one or more vacuum valves and causing them to fail intermittently in cold weather. Overheating could also be caused by a leaky transmission cooler solenoid.
The Cayman has become something of a byword for handling excellence, and the 718/982 has gone on from there to become a byword for excellent Caymans. Precision, adjustability, balance, it's all there in brain-scrambling quantities. Anyone bemoaning the lack of feel in electric power steering systems needs to have a go in one.
Regular 982 Caymans had 18-inch wheels. 19- and 20-inch alternatives were available. Smaller wheels were somewhat less susceptible to kerb damage. The 20s were a £1,566 option, and for these larger rims it was worth at least considering the fitment of the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) system to the build sheet of your new standard or S model to keep the ride civilised. Some said that 19s offered the best compromise between ride comfort and handling sharpness.
Experts - or magazine road testers at least - suggested that the best Cayman chassis had the adaptive sports suspension (PASM) and the limited slip rear diff that came with Porsche Torque Vectoring. The 2019-on Cayman T gave you all that stuff and more and proved monumentally fast on the right road. The selection of roads that fell into the 'right' category widened considerably in most 718s but especially in that car. All 982s had PSM (Porsche Stability Management) which was the company's combined traction and differential braking system.
A full set of replacement conventional steel brake discs would cost the thick end of £1,500. You needed to budget for that outlay every 20-25,000 miles. PCCB carbon ceramic brakes were an option. They are obviously a lot more expensive at £3,800 each (and that price is from 2017, so almost certainly more than that now) but then again, they should last at least four times as long as iron and you'll also save a lot of money on the wheel cleaning fluids needed to get off the brake dust that 718s are famous for accumulating with normal discs.
Tyres should be 'Porsche approved' and marked with the appropriate N rating. If they're not, your warranty is invalidated in some countries.
Eye-popping colours like Miami or Shark Blue, Lava Orange or Python Green cost £1,595 extra but they are very effective if you're into creating a splash. Bumpers that don't appear to be quite the same colour as the body may well have been repainted by a selling dealer to cover up stone chips, which is fine if the job has been done well, but it could perhaps be indicative of a previous life spent at speed.
The Cayman's total boot capacity was 422 litres, which was actually more than a Golf's, but it was in two compartments front and rear, so if you were transporting something large you had to saw it in half first. In early 2019 there was a recall on over 14,000 982 Caymans and Boxsters to fix a luggage compartment bracket that could puncture the fuel tank if you were unlucky enough to experience a particular type of collision. Some trackdaying owners have found that water can get into the boot when the tow hook is installed.
The Cayman might not have had the open-air appeal of the Boxster, but it made up for that with better cabin refinement and, of course, better security. As with the Boxster, there was never a feeling of being cramped in a Cayman. The only thing that could feel a little tight after buying one new might be your belt if you didn't manage to stop yourself going down the box-ticking road.
Various seat choices were on offer, including powered, heavily bolstered, and expensive 18-way seats with adjustable under-thigh support and some very nice carbon buckets, but the less bolstered standard two-way seats have proved more than adequate for most. The driving position with either seat (and with or without the £186 GT steering wheel) was top-notch, combining the lowness you wanted with a very acceptable view out. If you had that GT wheel plus the £1,125 SportChrono package you'd also get Porsche's take on Ferrari's manettino switch, the 911-sourced drive mode dial.
The 982's main interior mods compared to the 981 were a new infotainment system controlled by a PCM touchscreen, and new locations for the air vents. The new touchscreen, which responded to hand proximity, was a lot nicer to use than the old button-heavy system but initially at least you had to pay extra for modules if you wanted even basic-sounding things like Apple CarPlay, sat-nav or a smartphone interface, which seemed a bit mean. Some PCMs have been replaced under warranty and 'losing' Bluetooth connection is not uncommon. It's usually easily recodable by the OPC. The temperature control toggle on the centre console doesn't take kindly to having liquids dripped on it. That can be an expensive repair if you let your OPC do it.
Everything in the cabin should feel strong and well-built, because that's what it was like out of the factory and that's generally how Porsche cabins stay. In terms of rattliness, our own Mike Duff (who drove his own 987 Cayman S back-to-back with a 981 Cayman T) will tell you that the later car was a lot quieter. There have been some instances of misreading fuel indicators.
There was a Clubsport package for the GT4 comprising a black steel roll cage bolted to the bodywork behind the front seats, a six-point racing harness, and a fire extinguisher with mounting bracket. Isofix child seat attachment points weren't fitted to all cars.
The most obvious rivals to the 718 were the Alpine A110 and the BMW M2 Competition. Both of which were fine cars, but you really had to want one of those in preference to the Cayman because, irrespective of model, these small Porsches were - and still are - great cars. There are no duffers in the range. The only real disappointment is the engine noise, but if you can't get comfy with the idea of a four-pot Porsche the choice of a six is there now.
Unfortunately for potential buyers, used values reflect the respect in which these 718s are held. £35,000 is the rock-bottom entry price for high mileage cars - and by 'high' we mean around 40,000 miles. S models with the same sort of mileage start at around £40k. PDK cars greatly outnumber the manuals, but that's down to the brilliance of the dual-clutch box rather than any problem with the manual, perceived or actual.
There is an absolute raft of 718s to choose from in the £40-£50k bracket, at the top end of which you will find 2020-vintage 2.0s with fewer than 10k miles. 2019-on Cayman 2.0 Ts with the sharper chassis can be picked up for under £50k but they're usually on the wrong/high side of that number. (Watch out btw for earlier Caymans advertised as 'T's when all that means in this case is dealer-speak for 'turbocharged'. If it's an actual T it will say so on the tailgate and the sill plates.)
2.5 GTS prices start at around £53k for sub-40,000-mile cars. As an aside, we did find a front-end repaired Cat S GTS for £46k. The vendor of that one reckoned it would have been a £59k car without the accident, and that is indeed the sort of money you'll need for a 5-10k mile 2.5 GTS. Moving up into the 4.0 six-cylinder cars - a much greater percentage of which are available with manual gearboxes, as it launched without the PDK - will take you into £70k-and-counting territory for a GTS. You won't find many 4.0 GT4s for under £87k and prices for these go up to £110k.
The most affordable 718s on PH Classifieds start from £37,000. This very unpretentious first-year 2.0 manual with 31,000 miles and the sat-nav module gives you £5 change from that. For another £5k you could be in S land with this 47,000-mile but lavishly equipped 2016 PDK with Sport Chrono, sat-nav, Bose sound, and the awkwardly named adaptive 18-way Sports seats Plus
Most of us like a cuppa, some with milk and some without. Here's one without, a black T with the PDK auto and just 6,000 miles. Looks the part, as does the price at just under £53k. GTS fans might well be attracted by this 2018, 5,000-mile PDK model in Carmine Red, yours for £58,980. Got to have a six? If so, you've also got to have large pockets. The cheapest 4.0 718 on PH Classifieds at the time of writing was this 3,000-mile 4.0 GTS in Gentian Blue with the carbon seats at £76,995.
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