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RE: Porsche 718 Cayman S: Review

RE: Porsche 718 Cayman S: Review

Monday 11th July 2016

Porsche 718 Cayman S: Review

Furore over the Boxster going turbo has just about calmed; time to re-ignite it with the 718 Cayman!



With the 718 Boxster having taken the grenade for Porsche swapping cylinders for turbos, will the 718 Cayman be in for a slightly easier ride? From hot hatches to supercar icons, it's safe to say we know the script when another normally aspirated heroes trades 'soul' for forced induction.


On the off-chance you missed the whole fuss about Porsche's new generation of flat-four turbos we've looked at the technology, driven the 718Boxster S and then wrung our hands over what some of the new tech does to the driving experience. Details of what this means for the718 Cayman have already been revealed, including confirmation its position in the range has been swapped with the Boxster and it now costs nearly two grand less than the equivalent open top 718, like for like.

So a base 718 Cayman now has a 300hp 2.0-litre with 280lb ft of torque (the same as the previous GTS) and starts at £39,878 - fundamentally it's a Carrera engine with a couple of cylinders removed and a single turbo. The S we have here is bored out to a 2.5-litre, gets a fancier variable vane turbo and has 350hp and 310lb ft at a starting price of £48,834. After a vigorous work-out on the configurator the car you see here is closer to £70K, a number many will consider challenging when divided by four cylinders.


Spoiler alert
We wouldn't want to spoil your fun discussing the rights and wrongs of the many and various numbers surrounding this car. So let's instead attempt an objective appraisal of what you get for your money. And if Porsche has conjured up a driving experience good enough to match it.

To do that we need a good bit of road. North Yorkshire's B1257 is exactly that. Its twists, turns, crests and gradients could, in many ways, be likened to a point-to-point Nordschleife and its according popularity with both bikers and the local constabulary's camera vans is well-known. In a car its lack of width, short sightlines and roller coaster gradient changes test chassis, engine flexibility and forward planning - along a road like this bigger and more powerful cars feel over-endowed in performance and limited in road space. You need something small, agile and with instant punch to exploit opportunities as they come. Something pretty much like a Cayman, in other words.


As we know from the 718 Boxster S, the four-cylinder motor doesn't do itself any favours with first impressions. The idle is coarse, there's a low-rev vibration through the bulkhead the six never suffered from and the Beetle-like vibe really doesn't feel like it belongs in a car whose price is a PDK gearbox away from starting with a seven. On the flat dual carriageway that leads to the moors the engine noise fades to a drone, drowned by tyre roar from inch and a half wider tyres wrapped around 20-inch Carrera Sport rims. Chunky in look and £1,566 price, they're among a selection of new wheels introduced for the 718.

The six-speed manual shifter in the centre console is a welcome sight and, given the obvious extra flexibility, means you can leave it in sixth and lean on the torque where the seven-speed PDK would needlessly hunt around the ratios. As such it's a relaxed cruiser, the cabin familiar but fresher with the smarter PCM interface a big step up, even if you pay an additional £1,052 for the nav module.


Big spender
With its Lava Orange paint, fixed-back carbon seats, sports exhaust, ceramic brakes, Porsche Torque Vectoring, smaller GT steering wheel and the aforementioned manual gearbox, our man from Porsche says this particular car is intended to showcase the more focused end of the possible 718 spectrum. It's also got the most extreme of the three suspension options, these going from passively damped to 10mm lower PASM switchable and, in this case, 20mm lower PASM Sport.

As the roads filter down to single carriageway and the ascent into the moors begins there's incentive to twiddle the Manettino-style mode dial on the steering wheel, this being Porsche's sole concession to the fashion for button festooned wheels these days. In the usual Porsche style you can also mix-and-match the settings via the buttons around the shifter, the Individual mode permitting you a hot key for your favoured combination.


For these kind of roads everything up to 11 with the dampers in standard and PSM fully off to disable the auto rev-matching (see previous ranthere) seems the ideal, this giving maximum noise and the more assertive throttle response but keeping a little comfort in the chassis to take the edge off the bumps. Body control is such motivation to stiffen the dampers rarely goes beyond idle curiosity.

Feel the flow
The rest of the package is predictably encouraging for that all-important flow. The Cayman's size and natural agility are all perfectly suited to roads where a 911 now feels too broad to truly hustle. There's confidence inspiring weight to the electrically assisted steering wheel and a predictable and faithful response to corners fast and slow. For all the promises of 10 per cent faster reaction and 911 Turbo suspension parts to improve front-end bite it feels a little 'safe' on turn-in though, the front axle lagging just a tad behind your line of sight as you look through the corners and plot the path of least resistance. There's also little sense of the PTV-enhanced limited-slip diff doing much to help rotate the car into the corners; such is the inherent balance of the Cayman's mid-engined layout and grip on tap it doesn't have much work to do on a dry road.


But what about the engine? If noise and neck-hair prickling top end are 'style' in terms of power delivery a road like this at least lets you focus on the substance of flexibility and throttle response. And while the flat-four definitely feels turbocharged its reactions to both part and full throttle demands are genuinely impressive - this thanks to some clever boost management. Where a blind crest has you off the gas momentarily the engine is always ready for you when you get back on it, the surge when you need to overtake much like that in the normally-aspirated six. Just from 1,900rpm, rather than 4,000rpm. With the traditionally long Porsche gearing that simply gives you more options to enjoy what, by any stretch, is a seriously rapid car.


Mood board
Is this dumbing down the planning and engagement you get from keeping a peakier, normally aspirated engine on the boil along a road like this? Perhaps a little. But don't think you'll fall into the habit of simply riding the higher gears and short-shifting before the real action as a consequence. Because this flat-four has low-end grunt and muscular mid-range never before found on a Boxster or Cayman. AND proper high-rev excitement too. OK, it's not quite the crescendo of the flat-six. But it's not like they've put a binary Golf R motor in the thing. And it's way more revvy and exotic than the engines used in rivals like the Alfa Romeo 4C or various Lotus options available at this price. Only the pending TT RS threatens in the powerplant charisma stakes.


With some revs there's a harder edge to the sound too, complete with the inevitable pops and bangs when you roll out of the throttle. Whatever your take on such theatre it sounds a lot better from the outside too, though that does mean bystanders get more value from the £1,328 invested in the sports exhaust than the driver.

Driven along the same road on the same day would a manual six-cylinder Cayman GTS have put a bigger smile on your face? That remains the question hanging over the 718, at least for those of us who've always coveted the Cayman as the purest purist's sports car at this price point. As with anything it's give with one hand, take with the other. On a clear run with sufficient denial to enjoy the upper reaches of the flat-six's power delivery the previous car would probably still prickle the palms just a little more. In the real world of exploiting on-demand punch to clear traffic, enjoying the significantly increased poke and simply having more options for enjoying the Cayman's sorted dynamics, it's certainly a trade worth considering before you damn the whole concept.

And if you're still not convinced there are plenty of six-cylinder Caymans in the classifieds...


PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN S
Engine
: 2,497cc, 4-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive (7-speed dual clutch auto)
Power (hp): 350@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 310@1,900-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.6sec (4.4sec/4.2sec with launch control)
Top speed: 177mph
Weight: 1,430kg (1,460kg, both unladen EC with driver)
MPG: 34.9 (38.7)
CO2: 184g/km (167g/km)
Price: £48,834, £50,756 with PDK (£67,656 as tested with £1,595 for Lava Orange paint, £1,344 for LED headlights including Porsche PDLS Plus, £599 for ParkAssist front and rear, £1,133 for Sports suspension with PASM, £890 for Porsche vectoring including mechanically locking rear differential, £4,977 for PCCB, £1,125 for Sport Chrono Package including mode switch, £1,328 for Sports exhaust system, £1,566 for 20-inch Carrera Sport wheels, £186 for GT sport steering wheel, £2,226 for Sports Bucket seats, £1,052 for Navigation module for PCM and £801 for Connect Plus)
Figures in brackets for PDK, where different

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

Sam All

Original Poster:

3,101 posts

26 months

Sunday 10th July 2016
quotequote all
The old Cayman is now a classic. That is not to say the new one is not another desirable Porsche, esp with new customers.

MrBarry123

4,402 posts

46 months

Sunday 10th July 2016
quotequote all
I'm sure it's a fantastic thing to drive however...

The rear of the new 718 Boxster S is awful, the 718 Cayman S similarly so by the looks of it. I saw one [a Boxster 718 S] a few weeks' ago and the rear looks horribly cluttered now that the word "Porsche" is part of the spoiler. Also, the new tail lights are a travesty compared with the previous version's.

The front of both look okay however there's no way I'd consider the new cars over the previous versions.

edo

16,440 posts

190 months

Sunday 10th July 2016
quotequote all
Can't wait for mine to arrive. Ordered last week.

edo

16,440 posts

190 months

Sunday 10th July 2016
quotequote all
MrBarry123 said:
I'm sure it's a fantastic thing to drive however...

The rear of the new 718 Boxster S is awful, the 718 Cayman S similarly so by the looks of it. I saw one [a Boxster 718 S] a few weeks' ago and the rear looks horribly cluttered now that the word "Porsche" is part of the spoiler. Also, the new tail lights are a travesty compared with the previous version's.

The front of both look okay however there's no way I'd consider the new cars over the previous versions.
Agree too much text I have deleted all of the 718 cayman text.

edo

16,440 posts

190 months

Sunday 10th July 2016
quotequote all
PS. PH editors may want to check your copy.. Base car is a carrera engine withOUT a couple of cylinders....
Advertisement

MrBarry123

4,402 posts

46 months

Sunday 10th July 2016
quotequote all
edo said:
Agree too much text I have deleted all of the 718 cayman text.
Just need the lights sorted then and you'll have a great looking car! biggrin

cmoose

40,221 posts

154 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
MrBarry123 said:
The rear of the new 718 Boxster S is awful, the 718 Cayman S similarly so by the looks of it. I saw one [a Boxster 718 S] a few weeks' ago and the rear looks horribly cluttered now that the word "Porsche" is part of the spoiler. Also, the new tail lights are a travesty compared with the previous version's.
The badging is silly. But that aside I like the new rear and think there is significantly more Porsche DNA in it than the 981 rear, which wasn't bad looking, but aspects like the rear lights had little to connect them to previous Porsches and the angular overall graphic had a generic modern car air / Asian market vibe.

Generally the car looks a little more rounded, which for me is how Porsche's should be. The 981 is a good looker. But the sharp edges and geometric lights front and rear are rather modish and more in keeping with other brands.

But it's a bit academic with that bloody engine!

PunterCam

624 posts

120 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
I didn't need to read this. I knew exactly what it'd be, because cars have become that dull and predictable! Maybe I'm just becoming jaded, but I don't think so.

It'll drive magnificently, but then so did the old one. So did the original. So has every Porsche since the late 80s. But that engine.. I don't care how fast it is - I really don't. Because now we're into the world of turbos, it's marketing dictating the power outputs, not engineers. This engine could, very easily, have another 100hp. It wouldn't affect emissions, economy, reliability, but it would affect Porsches ability to sell you that 450bhp Cayman in 2025.

Coupled with a power delivery that is NEVER sporty, and a sound which is ordinary (I don't mind turbo 4s, I've owned a few myself), and more importantly a feel which isn't exotic... I could never ever have one.

This is a terrible move from Porsche. A small capacity 6 cylinder turbo (2.0l) would've all but matched the figures of this new car. I dunno.. These are the last few years of the petrol powered car, and we're being served up this st.. It's a joke, and we shouldn't praise it.

cmoose

40,221 posts

154 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
PunterCam said:
I didn't need to read this. I knew exactly what it'd be, because cars have become that dull and predictable! Maybe I'm just becoming jaded, but I don't think so.

It'll drive magnificently, but then so did the old one. So did the original. So has every Porsche since the late 80s. But that engine.. I don't care how fast it is - I really don't. Because now we're into the world of turbos, it's marketing dictating the power outputs, not engineers. This engine could, very easily, have another 100hp. It wouldn't affect emissions, economy, reliability, but it would affect Porsches ability to sell you that 450bhp Cayman in 2025.

Coupled with a power delivery that is NEVER sporty, and a sound which is ordinary (I don't mind turbo 4s, I've owned a few myself), and more importantly a feel which isn't exotic... I could never ever have one.

This is a terrible move from Porsche. A small capacity 6 cylinder turbo (2.0l) would've all but matched the figures of this new car. I dunno.. These are the last few years of the petrol powered car, and we're being served up this st.. It's a joke, and we shouldn't praise it.
Correctomundo. Well, except for a few details.

Porsche could have put the 3.8-litre 355hp M97 in the orginal Cayman, it's the same bloody engine as the 3.4-litre they did fit in all but a few details and it wouldn't have cost muhch if any more.

They didn't for the same reason that they aren't now doing the 100hp+ version of this new engine you rightly identify. In that sense, nothing has changed. Porsche has managed its product portfolio carefully since forever.

The 2.0-litre F6T isn't that great an idea. It would sound better, but it would have the same sh*tty / non-sporty power delivery and response as the F4T.

But generally I agree. New cars are dull and predictable and despite all the bleating on PH about 'wait and see', it was perfectly obvious what this new lump would be like the moment the spec was announced. It's simply bad news and being done for all the wrong reasons. It's a pity it's not being called out more consistently, but I suppose the ship has sailed.

Having said all that, it's fast, the ECU chucks a load of unburnt fuel down to pipes so it crackles and pops for Britain, the PSE option will sound thoroughly vulgar and the punters will love it. Resistance is futile.


Edited by cmoose on Monday 11th July 03:34

Timbola

1,066 posts

65 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
A good write up from Dan.

edo said:
Agree too much text I have deleted all of the 718 cayman text.
Yep I put my order down for an S a few weeks ago, and have specced all but the 718 to be removed.

Edited by Timbola on Monday 11th July 06:06

stuckmojo

1,703 posts

113 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
Nope. This doesn't really excite me.

Not sure it's the turbo/4. I'd love an M2, or a 997 Turbo.

But this and the Boxster? Not at all.

A mate had the previous Cayman GTS. What an amazing car that was. The noise and rev crescendo was something epic.

Reg Local

2,255 posts

133 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
I had a drive in a 718 Boxter S on Saturday courtesy of Porshe Bolton. I prefer to reserve judgement on these things until I've actually tried them myself.

Having driven a few Boxters and Boxter Ss over the years, I was genuinely interested in whether the 4 cylinder engine was a backward step or not. The previous 6 cylinder models certainly had a character of their own, but they had to be worked reasonably hard to extract maximum performance. That's not a complaint - I've always liked using revs and as Dan pointed out, having a car in the right gear at the right times for all road situations is a key driving skill.

Firstly, rather than sounding worse, the engine just sounded different. I quite liked the new engine note and although it wasn't as musical as a six, it had a purposeful sound at start-up and a slightly harsh, but aggressive note when revved.

On driving it, however, the benefits of the new engine were immediately obvious. The power was so much more accessible from low revs, which, of course, makes the car feel quicker, but in reality, it is quicker and I was actually hugely impressed with the cars performance.

Handling-wise, the lighter weight of the engine probably makes a difference, but it's been a while since I last drove a Boxter, so I can't make a direct comparison. It certainly inspired confidence and steered with a lovely, creamy accuracy which I don't remember from the last model.

Overall, I thought the 718 was definitely a step forward, and all the doom mongers should actually try one before dismissing it out of hand.

As an aside, I also tried a new 911 turbo on the same day. Setting aside the ridiculous, humungous and downright hilarious power (still smiling this morning!), I actually thought that the 718 was a better all-round road car - by which I mean you could exploit much more of the available performance much more often on the road with less dread of immediate fiery death or prison.

I now have a plan to get into a 718 Cayman within the next 3 years.

I just need to break the news to Mrs Local...

Dan Trent

1,807 posts

93 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
edo said:
PS. PH editors may want to check your copy.. Base car is a carrera engine withOUT a couple of cylinders....
Ahem. Correct cylinder count reinstated!

Thanks!

Dan

edo

16,440 posts

190 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
Reg Local said:
I had a drive in a 718 Boxter S on Saturday courtesy of Porshe Bolton. I prefer to reserve judgement on these things until I've actually tried them myself.

Having driven a few Boxters and Boxter Ss over the years, I was genuinely interested in whether the 4 cylinder engine was a backward step or not. The previous 6 cylinder models certainly had a character of their own, but they had to be worked reasonably hard to extract maximum performance. That's not a complaint - I've always liked using revs and as Dan pointed out, having a car in the right gear at the right times for all road situations is a key driving skill.

Firstly, rather than sounding worse, the engine just sounded different. I quite liked the new engine note and although it wasn't as musical as a six, it had a purposeful sound at start-up and a slightly harsh, but aggressive note when revved.

On driving it, however, the benefits of the new engine were immediately obvious. The power was so much more accessible from low revs, which, of course, makes the car feel quicker, but in reality, it is quicker and I was actually hugely impressed with the cars performance.

Handling-wise, the lighter weight of the engine probably makes a difference, but it's been a while since I last drove a Boxter, so I can't make a direct comparison. It certainly inspired confidence and steered with a lovely, creamy accuracy which I don't remember from the last model.

Overall, I thought the 718 was definitely a step forward, and all the doom mongers should actually try one before dismissing it out of hand.

As an aside, I also tried a new 911 turbo on the same day. Setting aside the ridiculous, humungous and downright hilarious power (still smiling this morning!), I actually thought that the 718 was a better all-round road car - by which I mean you could exploit much more of the available performance much more often on the road with less dread of immediate fiery death.
My thoughts pretty much exactly.

kambites

53,083 posts

146 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
Reg Local said:
As an aside, I also tried a new 911 turbo on the same day. Setting aside the ridiculous, humungous and downright hilarious power (still smiling this morning!), I actually thought that the 718 was a better all-round road car - by which I mean you could exploit much more of the available performance much more often on the road with less dread of immediate fiery death or prison.
The Boxster/Cayman has always been a better car to drive than the base model 911, IMO.

Sounds like Porsche have done a predictably good job with the new car but it's definitely not for me. I found the old car too easy to drive quickly and too numb and it sounds like this is a step further in that direction. I'm sure it's an upgrade for most people though, so from that point of view it sounds like Porsche have achieved their aim. It deserves to sell well (as it undoubtedly will).

Edited by kambites on Monday 11th July 07:56

ORD

10,366 posts

52 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
It's like putting ketchup on a fillet steak. More 'flavour' (power) but utterly gross and depressing.

Dale487

479 posts

48 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
The only car in the class that I can think of which I might consider instead would be the BMW M2 - but that is very closely related to a £20k hatch & the M3/4 engine sounds like it's got flatulence to me.

The TT RS may have a better engine but I can't think of anything that is better in the Cayman's class - more so if you want a convertible as there is no M2 cabriolet (thank god).

smilo996

1,347 posts

95 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
Calling it the 718 is like calling the F-Type an XK120.

Dan reviews a Porsche, any Porsche, it brilliant!

Team PJ Porschar will love it but does it have four seats.

Reg Local

2,255 posts

133 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
kambites said:
The Boxster/Cayman has always been a better car to drive than the base model 911, IMO.

Sounds like Porsche have done a predictably good job with the new car but it's definitely not for me. I found the old car too easy to drive quickly and too numb and it sounds like this is a step further in that direction. I'm sure it's an upgrade for most people though, so from that point of view it sounds like Porsche have achieved their aim. It deserves to sell well (as it undoubtedly will).

Edited by kambites on Monday 11th July 07:56
Numb? There were plenty of descriptive terms which sprang to mind whilst driving it and "numb" certainly wasn't one of them. In my opinion it was an extremely lively and responsive sports car. Of course it's not for everyone, but driver involvement and response are first class for a car of this type.

It's not an Elise or a Caterham in terms of response, of course, but it is also a car that's designed to be used every day, rather than just on high days and holidays.

ORD said:
It's like putting ketchup on a fillet steak. More 'flavour' (power) but utterly gross and depressing.
I wasn't depressed driving it either. Doom, doom, gloom and more doom. I'd be interested to see what you thought after driving one (and apologies if you already have and it genuinely left you depressed).

kambites

53,083 posts

146 months

Monday 11th July 2016
quotequote all
Dale487 said:
The only car in the class that I can think of which I might consider instead would be the BMW M2 - but that is very closely related to a £20k hatch & the M3/4 engine sounds like it's got flatulence to me.

The TT RS may have a better engine but I can't think of anything that is better in the Cayman's class - more so if you want a convertible as there is no M2 cabriolet (thank god).
I suppose it depends on what you consider to be its "class". The Cayman seems to sit somewhere between the Evora and Exige in most ways so I'd have thought one or the other would be a competitor for most people (assuming they realise either exists). People often cite the F-type as a competitor to the Cayman/Boxster and that's had very good reviews.