Re : Porsche Cayman S (987) vs. 718 Cayman T

Re : Porsche Cayman S (987) vs. 718 Cayman T

Sunday 29th December 2019

Porsche 718 Cayman T vs. Cayman S (987)

What's in a letter? Time to find out...



While pitching old against new is fun, it doesn't really reflect the reality of how people buy cars. Getting into a 2009 987.1 Cayman S was a financial stretch I had to think long and hard about making. A brand new car costing more than twice as much wasn't on the list of alternatives, however nice it looks in Miami Blue. Similarly, I doubt many people poised to sign an order form for a factory-fresh 718 are also considering a two-generation old 68,000-miler entering its second decade.

So this isn't a comparison with tea and medals for the winner, and a steel toe-capped hoofing for the loser. Rather a look at how the Cayman has changed over the years, and how it has stayed the same. Like parking different generations of Mazda MX-5 together, one of the first things that strikes about the pairing of 987 and 718 is how similar the proportions are - on Porsche's figures the current car is just 38mm longer and both share an identical 1,425kg EU kerb weight.

Of course, picking a 718 Cayman S would have made the comparison more obvious, but the only press car Porsche could offer had a PDK transmission. Given the 987's manual gearbox is one of my favourite features we chose to go for a Cayman T instead, this getting the smaller 2.0-litre flat-four turbo but also more dynamic focus than the base car - and coming with the standard six-speed manual fitted to the one you see here. This means the first surprise is that the newer car actually has less power than the older one: 300hp playing 315hp. So I'd better go gently if Sam Sheehan in the T is going to have a chance to keep up...



Fat chance. One of the day's abiding lessons is that turbocharged torque beats naturally-aspirated finesse at least 80 per cent of the time. On paper both cars are incredibly close, the 987 posting a 5.2-second 0-62mph time and a 171mph top speed, the 718 a tenth quicker in the acceleration benchmark but with a 1mph lower vMax. Yet in the real world - as approximated by the roads around Lambourn in West Berkshire - the T feels much faster pretty much everywhere. That's because its peak 280lb ft of torque is flowing by 2,150rpm while the S's 273lb ft doesn't arrive until 4,750rpm. The practical upshot being that when the 718 takes off it usually takes one or two down-changes in the 987 to get to a similar level of acceleration. Only at the fullest fang do they hang together.

Swap from objective to subjective criteria, and the situation reverses. Plenty has already been said about the four-cylinder 718's relative lack of aural appeal, so I'm not going to dwell on it here, not least as I own one of the dogs in this scrap. In the T's defence it does sound pretty good for a turbocharged four-pot, with a slightly uneven idle reminiscent of an air-cooled Beetle and a muscular rasp when worked hard. It's just that the flat-six sounds better - less shouty at lower revs, but with a beautiful mechanical zing as it gets toward its top end. I'm hopelessly biased, obviously - but Sheehan is in full agreement, admitting to short-shifting in the 718 so he could better listen to my car at full thrash when I was leading.

The turbo engine also has noticeable lag below 3,000rpm, more obvious in direct contrast to the immediacy of the 987's throttle response. This isn't the old-fashioned nothing>all delay - the first wodge of torque arrives almost instantly, but then it takes a couple of seconds for full boost to arrive. But even in Sport Plus mode and with every setting in its firmest and loudest, the 718 doesn't have the finesse of the 987.



Nor does it really need it, though. Before this gets too one-sided I have to acknowledge the most obvious difference between the pair - mechanical grip. A day on cold, greasy roads was a reminder that I will need to budget for a set of replacement tyres soon. My Cayman's P-Zeroes are still legal, but much closer to the end of their lives than the start. Yet I was still close to shocked by how much more adhesion the 718 generated from its own Pirellis, which are an inch bigger but the same width front and rear. Turn-in is keener and traction far better, despite all the extra torque. Several corners that required a big lift in the 987, or an admonishing flash from the stability control light, were taken flat and without drama in the T.

The other revelation was how much Porsche has tweaked the Cayman's character over the years. Like the closely related 997 911, the original 987 never felt very aggressive, and especially not - as in my car - without the options of PASM switchable dampers or a Sport mode. Steering feels relatively low geared compared to the 718, and the wheel itself is both bigger and completely devoid of buttons beyond pushing the face to sound the horn. The 718's gear shifter is firmer, too, and has its planes more tightly stacked together. In its default Normal mode the 718 T does a half-decent impression of its predecessor, although with a plusher ride on its adaptive dampers, but Sport and Sport Plus turn it progressively louder and angrier.

While I prefer the steering of the 987, but I can understand why Porsche has changed it. Put simply, the world moved on and buyers now expect different things. The helm of my Cayman S is chatty all the time, faithfully reporting front axle grip and slip angles, but also weighting up when cambers change and tugging when the wheels find even small bumps. There's still some of that in the 718, indeed more than in pretty much anything else with an electric rack, but a fair amount is clearly being filtered out as unneccessary gossip. The T also has far faster responses, scything its way toward apexes with much less turning effort.



On static attributes, it isn't even close. I have to apologise to Sheehan for the persistent trim rattle that comes from the back of my car. The fit and finish of the 718 is far higher, and the cabin is also noticeably more spacious; it's a novelty to find I don't need to have both the seat base and back adjusted to their fullest extent for an optimal seating position. My car's PCM 3 infotainment system was decent-ish 10 years ago - I know a bloke with an earlier Cayman who is bitterly jealous of my ability to make Bluetooth phone calls - but it feels like it's running Windows 7 compared with the slick interface of the Cayman T.

In one key area my car's cabin is better though. Whoever originally ordered it ticked the box for proper climate control; whoever optioned this Cayman T to Β£57,904 didn't and therefore it still just has cold\hot and fan speed controls. There isn't a loser here. But for the likelihood of legal letters and writs from Porsche GB I'd be delighted to take the Cayman T home; it doesn't sound as good or steer quite as well, but it's quicker, much more advanced and looks great. It's also probably about as much performance car as you're ever likely to be able to properly exploit in modern Britain, certainly in the winter.

But nor are there any regrets to be leaving Berkshire in the older, leggier car.


SPECIFICATION - PORSCHE CAYMAN S (987.2)
Engine:
3,436cc, flat-six
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear wheel drive
Power (hp): 315@7,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 273@4,750rpm
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 171mph
Weight: 1,425kg [EU]
MPG: 28.8 [EUDC]
CO2: 230g/km
Price: Β£44,108 (2009), c.Β£21,000 (2019)

Search for a 987 Cayman here

SPECIFICATION - PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN T
Engine:
1,988cc flat-four turbo
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@2,150-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 5.1 seconds
Top speed: 170mph
Weight: 1,425kg [EU]
MPG: 32.5 [WLTP]
CO2: 186 g/km
Price: Β£51,145 (as standard; Β£57,904 as tested comprising Miami Blue paint Β£1,658; black leather interior with 718 T interior package Β£1,242; 64-litre fuel tank Β£84; dimming mirrors/rain sensor Β£345; cruise control Β£228; ParkAssist front and rear Β£623; Interior Package 718 T Β£1,809; ISOFIX for passenger seat Β£126; 'Sports-look' pedals and footrest Β£126; leather interior package Β£518; Porsche Communication Management with phone prep and Sound Package Plus Β£0)

Search for a 718 Cayman here





















IMAGES | Stan Papior

Author
Discussion

thebestlittlecivicintheworld

Original Poster:

55 posts

2 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
Ahh the 718, it’ll be really fun watching the used values of these things in a few years time. Just like the 4 cylinder F-Type.

Horrendous.

samoht

1,099 posts

95 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all

Thanks for this, it's interesting to compare different generations and not that often done. Not surprised that forced induction horses are more effective in the real world than nat-asp ones, definitely my experience too, though of course normal aspiration has its own benefits.

The opening paragraph says "2009 987.1 Cayman S" but the spec table says 987.2 and the text refers to the older car making 315hp which I believe is the 987.2 DFI engine - which one is being compared here?

Never mind budgeting for new tyres, IMHO you should've whacked on a brand new set of premium rubber and expensed it to PH Towers in order to make this comparison apples to apples :-) As it is it's hard to know how much is tyres and how much chassis. Next time... I'd also be really interested to hear how the 981 compares, since in many ways that would seem the sweet spot, the much more attractive later body with the earlier flat-six engine.

godotwait

24 posts

141 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
My thoughts exactly Samoht. The 981 is the model I would be comparing with the brand new cars.

A1VDY

1,224 posts

76 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
I personally think its a good comparison with the earlier 987 to the latest 718.
Imho the 987 is the better looking both body and interior and of course has the classic F6.
I can see 987 values rising while the 718's plumetting..

sidesauce

1,124 posts

167 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
A1VDY said:
I personally think its a good comparison with the earlier 987 to the latest 718.
Imho the 987 is the better looking both body and interior and of course has the classic F6.
I can see 987 values rising while the 718's plumetting..
If the rumoured 718/6 (so something beneath the GT4) model comes out, maybe not...

Lexington59

141 posts

14 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
Having actually just traded my 987 for a 718 in the real world I can say wow, what an improvement. Meanwhile in Internet forum PH land we hear the usual nonsense about values crashing and “sound” which are as far removed from reality as they can be being spouted by the usual keyboard warriors living in their parents’ basements... laugh

Truckosaurus

7,282 posts

233 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
Indeed. The 718 makes a decent enough noise (despite the modern fashion for exhaust pops even pottering around town) especially for those of us who think that "it sounds like a Subaru" is not the insult it is meant to be.

I'm sure there will be plenty of affordable tuning options so you can hot-rod a 718 up to power levels the 6-cyl cars can only dream of.

HighwayStar

2,644 posts

93 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
Lexington59 said:
Having actually just traded my 987 for a 718 in the real world I can say wow, what an improvement. Meanwhile in Internet forum PH land we hear the usual nonsense about values crashing and “sound” which are as far removed from reality as they can be being spouted by the usual keyboard warriors living in their parents’ basements... laugh
Don't presume all that are not keen on the 718 are keyboard warriors who haven't driven one, can't afford one or simply have no idea what they're talking about... That is not the case. I've had 3 as loaners when my 981 CS has been for service and warranty work. One I had for a long weekend, another for a week. Long enough for me to decide for my reality I didn't like them. It didn't work for me, so for me I can't be wrong. Clearly from your post, wow... you love the 718, I can't tell you you're wrong or it's not good for X,Y& Z reasons... you're happy, I'm happy. It's all good.

SidewaysSi

6,292 posts

183 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
A 987 with £5k ish of kit thrown at it would destroy the new car to drive.

GTEYE

1,479 posts

159 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
SidewaysSi said:
A 987 with £5k ish of kit thrown at it would destroy the new car to drive.
Nonsense. But the more accurate comparison would be 718 S to 987 S.

yonex

16,208 posts

117 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
More to the point a 4 cylinder Cayster might actually prove half reliable. I amazed they sell and still have a following given their terrible reliability.

famfarrow

268 posts

103 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
Lexington59 said:
Having actually just traded my 987 for a 718 in the real world I can say wow, what an improvement. Meanwhile in Internet forum PH land we hear the usual nonsense about values crashing and “sound” which are as far removed from reality as they can be being spouted by the usual keyboard warriors living in their parents’ basements... laugh
And you're not sensitive about this one bit.

Ultrafunkula

716 posts

54 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
samoht said:
The opening paragraph says "2009 987.1 Cayman S" but the spec table says 987.2 and the text refers to the older car making 315hp which I believe is the 987.2 DFI engine - which one is being compared here?
The car in the pictures is definitely a 987.2 S, not a 987.1, in terms of the comparison with the 718 T I can't imagine it matters much though.

A1VDY

1,224 posts

76 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
sidesauce said:
A1VDY said:
I personally think its a good comparison with the earlier 987 to the latest 718.
Imho the 987 is the better looking both body and interior and of course has the classic F6.
I can see 987 values rising while the 718's plumetting..
If the rumoured 718/6 (so something beneath the GT4) model comes out, maybe not...

The small engined 718 will fall to bargain basement prices in a few years imho but a 718/6 will likely keep used prices high..if its ever produced..

Plate spinner

13,919 posts

149 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
Lexington59 said:
Having actually just traded my 987 for a 718 in the real world I can say wow, what an improvement. Meanwhile in Internet forum PH land we hear the usual nonsense about values crashing and “sound” which are as far removed from reality as they can be being spouted by the usual keyboard warriors living in their parents’ basements... laugh
Ooh you’re defensive aren’t you hun hehe

Think what you you like chap, used values are dictated by the majority not the minority.

Enjoy your car if you like it, but know that the 4cyl cars not currently loved and that means values will slide. Bargains to be had for those that want them, irrelevant to those that only want the F6 cars.

Hope you’re still feeling smug when you trade in smile

GrandAndrew

717 posts

99 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
I would imagine that you'd kind of like to own both, I'm sure the 718 is much better for 95% of driving, the day to day stuff. Dare I even say if you were to own both (or at least something older and rawer) that a PDK 718 might be even preferable? But older cars offer a more visceral experience when you really push on and give you a more pleasurable experience when driving for fun, so for that 5% of the time it will always win and often that smaller percentage lives longer in the memory than the larger.

Richard-G

1,367 posts

124 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
yonex said:
More to the point a 4 cylinder Cayster might actually prove half reliable. I amazed they sell and still have a following given their terrible reliability.
Ive just picked up a 718 GTS and its got interior rattles all over it! Very disappointed. Especially when as a lotus fanboy im always told that the porkers are better screwed together! Never had a rattle from my evora 400.

Apart from that though, good car!

CABC

2,901 posts

50 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
Plate spinner said:
Think what you you like chap, used values are dictated by the majority not the minority.
majority aren't always 'right'.
i'm no fan fan of a 4 banger turbo Porsche. i prefer having to stretch a flat 6 beyond 5k revs, but actually i'm in a minority within the overall driving population. most new owners will be used to lazy turbo torque. values will stabilise in time though the first gen will suffer, like water cooled 996s.

GTiWILL

241 posts

27 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
Richard-G said:
Ive just picked up a 718 GTS and its got interior rattles all over it! Very disappointed. Especially when as a lotus fanboy im always told that the porkers are better screwed together! Never had a rattle from my evora 400.

Apart from that though, good car!
Well there isn’t anything in an Evora to rattle is there? biggrin

I’m joking of course and envious if I’m honest!

nickfrog

10,826 posts

166 months

Friday 27th December 2019
quotequote all
Plate spinner said:
Ooh you’re defensive aren’t you hun hehe

Think what you you like chap, used values are dictated by the majority not the minority.

Enjoy your car if you like it, but know that the 4cyl cars not currently loved and that means values will slide. Bargains to be had for those that want them, irrelevant to those that only want the F6 cars.

Hope you’re still feeling smug when you trade in smile
You seem quite defensive.