Porsche 718 Cayman gets more from less
The 2017 Porsche Cayman has new, more powerful and efficient lighter “boxer” twin turbo four-cylinder engines, but with all the agility and poise the Cayman is known for.
THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Handling and response delight, as does the very reasonable fuel consumption.
- What’s Worst: Cargo space is marginal, but that’s about it.
- What’s Interesting: As noted in the companion 718 Boxster review, the engines are smaller and more fuel-efficient, yet performance matches or exceeds the outgoing six-cylinder models.
With the new 718 Cayman coupe and 718 Boxster roadster, Porsche is going back to its roots.
In the 1950s-60s, it was a time when the brand burst into prominence with the Model 718 two-seaters that ran like clockwork, winning almost everything before them.
So some two decades after the Boxster and Cayman were introduced, Porsche decided it was time for a second generation but with the entire DNA from its roots.
Like the Boxster there are two models – the 718 Cayman and 718 Cayman S differentiated primarily by displacement.
Previously, the Cayman and the Boxster both used “boxer” six-cylinder engines, but the new 718 models are now powered by flat four-cylinders which are smaller and lighter, but power is up by 35 hp and fuel consumption is 13 per cent less.
The base engine in the 718 Cayman is a 2.0-litre with 300 hp (280 lb/ft), while the 718 Cayman S gets a 2.5-litre unit producing 350 hp (309 lb/ft).
Buyers have a choice between a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional PDK dual clutch seven-speed automatic.
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Adding the optional Sport Chrono Package and PDK to the 2.0-litre engine sees it accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, 0.8 seconds quicker than the previous model, while the Cayman S does it in 4.2 seconds, 0.6 seconds faster.
Top speed in the 718 Cayman is 275 km/h (170 mph) and 285 km/h (177 mph) in the 718 Cayman S.
One of the reasons for the increase in power is variable turbine geometry, Porsche being the only manufacturer to use this technology.
For the 718, Porsche re-tuned the chassis to increased responsiveness to steering input. The springs and stabilizer bars are firmer, while the steering is 10 per cent more direct.
The brakes are larger at 330 mm front and 299 mm rear plus the track is 0.5-in wider at the rear.
Optionally available are the Sport Chrono Package and the Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) electronically-controlled rear limited slip differential allow the sporting character of the 718 Cayman to be further custom-tailored to suit individual preferences.
Another option worth consideration by any potential buyers is Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with a 10 mm lower ride height. Additionally, in the S model, PASM sport suspension combined with a 20 mm lower ride height is available for the first time.
While the Cayman looks the same as the outgoing model, it is slightly wider with more aggressive nose and two large and functional air ducts below the standard Bi-Xenon headlights with integrated LED running lights with LED headlights optional.
Inside, detail changes have been made such as a new “918 Spyder” steering wheel, while the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system is standard. Mobile phone preparation, audio interfaces and the 150-watt Sound Package Plus are standard.
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But the thing to have on any Porsche, as I have said in the past, is the Sport Chrono Package, but now with an Individual mode added to the three existing modes – Normal, Sport and Sport Plus.
They have been moved from the centre console to a stalk on the lower right of the steering wheel with the modes driver selectable by a rotary dial.
Adding to the fun on PDK-equipped examples is a Sport Response button in the middle of the Mode dial. Press down and it’s like a form of “push to pass” — giving the driver maximum power for 20 seconds.
But what the 718 Cayman is really all about is the pleasure of driving.
At the press introduction of the 718 Boxster and Cayman in Austin, I drove a stock Boxster in the morning and, finally, a Cayman S in the afternoon with Sport Chrono.
The 2.0-litre is more than adequate but the 2.5-litre with the Sport Chrono was something else again.
Earlier this year I drove a “lightweight” 2016 Cayman GT4 with 3.8-litre twin scroll flat six-cylinder with slightly more power at 385 hp, but the identical 309 lb/ft of torque.
The GTS did not have the Sport Chrono, but it had 800 mm more displacement.
While the Cayman S did not have the raw response, it certainly felt as swift, but the noise was nowhere near as loud on the inside as the stripped GT4.
Launch, handling, adroit lane changes were accomplished as if the car and I were one – a trait I have noticed on all Porsche sportscars I’ve driven.
Because I was primarily on freeways, I didn’t get a chance to use the Sport button and, frankly, I didn’t need it.
And that is beauty of a car like the 718 Cayman and Cayman S.
You can drive to the grocery store or around the track and it will always leave you with a smile on your face.
Porsche 718 Cayman/Cayman S 2017
BODY STYLE: Premium performance coupe
DRIVE METHOD: Mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: 2.0-litre twin turbo direct injection “boxer” four-cylinder (300 hp, 280 lb/ft); 2.5-litre twin turbo direct injection “boxer” four-cylinder (350 hp, 309 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) 2.0-litre manual, 11.5/8.3/9.8/100 km city/highway/combined, PDK, 10.5/8.0/9.4/100 km; 2.5-litre manual, 12.1/9.0/10.7L/ 100 km, PDK, 11.0/8.4/9.9L/100 km
CARGO: 150 litres in front bin; 275 litres rear bin.
TOW RATING: NA
PRICE: 718 Cayman manual/PDK, $61,500/$66,160; 718 Cayman S manual/PDK, $75,600/$79,260