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Porsche’s updated Cayman better than ever

22.09.2016

The day when Porsche fully embraced downsizing had to eventually come. But I see this development more as a necessary evolution than a step backwards.

When the 911 became a turbo-only model earlier this year, enthusiasts were up in arms. But all of that seems to have subsided, people are over it which should make the introduction of four-cylinder Boxster and Cayman variants a bit easier shouldn’t it? I was privileged to travel to Stuttgart, the home of Porsche, to sample the newly named 718 Cayman and Cayman S in the Black Forest to find out firsthand.

Four-cylinder you say?

I was in the same boat that you are probably in after reading that the Cayman and Boxster are now only available as four-cylinder models. But all of that changed when I not only saw the figures for each car, but actually heard and drove both variants for myself. Manufacturers are doing incredible things with four-cylinder motors these days and if recent Porsche models are anything to go by, I have no idea why I ever doubted how excellent it would be.

Tell us about the engines

Now the ‘base’ model is the non-S Cayman, which features a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol motor good for 220 kW / 380 Nm. The range-topping Cayman S gets a larger 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine which produces 257 kW / 420 Nm.

The Cayman equipped with the superb seven-speed PDK gearbox goes from 0-100 km/h in a claimed 4.7 seconds, while the S version, also fitted with the PDK, will do the same sprint in just 4.4 seconds.

Both vehicles are available with six-speed manual gearboxes which adds 0.2 seconds to the sprint times. There is a mode called Dynamic Boost which is activated via a steering wheel-mounted button. This gives the car a 20 second boost in power which further reduces the time required to achieve impressive speed and acceleration times.

There is something quite unique about these new Porsche four-pots in that they are flat-four motors, meaning that they produce and incredibly unique soundtrack. On start-up, both models emit a rather audible bark, while at idle a familiar horizontally-opposed thrum burbles from the exhausts. When chasing the redline past 7 000 r/min, the sound is definitely Porsche, but perhaps not in the way you may think, it certainly takes some getting used to.

Efficiency

The other benefit of utilising smaller capacity engines is of course emissions and fuel consumption. The new models are more powerful, produce more usable torque and use less fuel. Porsche claims that the regular 718 Cayman with the PDK gearbox will consume 6.9-litres /100 km while the S is claimed at 7.3-litres /100 km, however I cannot comment as there were mountain roads and too much fun to be had for me to chase good fuel consumption figures.

Changes apart from the engine

There has been a significant nomenclature change to the Cayman and Boxster names, as both inherit the iconic 50s 718 badge which signifies their place within the Porsche line-up. Keen observers will also note the extensive treatment given to the front and rear lights.

Inside has also been tidied up with the drive modes relocated to the steering wheel and the removal of several buttons which rounds off a far less cluttered, more user friendly cockpit.

What’s it like to drive?

In a word, sublime, only I wouldn’t want my experiences with these vehicles to be summed up by one word. We tackled some seriously tight and twisty mountain roads, with sections where two cars would battle to fit abreast. But despite the foreign roads, the fact that I was sitting on the wrong side of the car and diving on the wrong side of the road, I couldn’t stop smiling.

The front-end of the car feels so well connected to your steering inputs that it’s borderline telepathic, and then there’s the mechanical grip and the forgiving ride over the bumps. The vehicles that we drove did have the PASM adaptive sports suspension though which helps a lot on uneven surfaces. The car just feels so alive, so connected and most importantly, so on your side as you drive. It prods, urges you to push harder until you find your personal limit, which is very likely not nearing that of the cars.

Verdict

The sound that the new four-cylinder engines make in the Porsche 718 range, may take some getting used to, but that is perhaps the only negative thing I would have to say. The new 718 Cayman is faster, more efficient, more compliant, more fun to drive and overall a better package than the car it replaces. If this is downsizing, I think I might be happier than what I had anticipated all those years ago

Pricing

718 Cayman PDK: R854 000

718 Cayman S PDK: R934 000

Article written by Sean Nurse
22.09.2016
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