Porsche 718 Cayman review
Don’t write the Cayman off as a ‘cut-price 911’ – the ‘thinking person’s 911’ may be more apt. It’s simply superb to drive and has a high-quality interior, although its engine does lack charm.
What's not so good
Porsche 718 Cayman: what would you like to read next?
The Porsche 718 Cayman sits below the firm’s iconic 911 on the pricelists, but if you think the Cayman is a hugely inferior car because it’s cheaper, well, you’re wrong.
If you’re a Porsche 911, having a Cayman alongside you in the range must be like having your little brother come along and suddenly beat you at football, or on the PlayStation, or in a wrestling match. Yup, the Cayman could stake a claim as one of the best cars Porsche currently builds. It’s every bit as fantastic to drive as its more expensive sibling, and has a similarly impressive interior, and while its four-cylinder engine doesn’t put as big a smile on your face as the 911’s six-cylinder one does, there are flat-six motors making a reappearance in the Cayman. It’s almost as if Porsche has realised the error of its ways.
Still, even the entry-level 2.0-litre Cayman has 300hp and can get you from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds. The faster S model gets a 2.5-litre engine with 350hp, enough to get you from 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds and onto a top speed of 177mph. There’s also a T model with the same power as the entry-level car, but has numerous performance options added, while the six-cylinder GTS 4.0 gets 400hp and the GT4 has 420hp.
The flat-four engines sound pretty ordinary. And while they’re more fuel efficient than the engines in alternative sports cars, in the real world it doesn’t actually save you much fuel over the Cayman’s six-cylinder units.
But it’s the way the Cayman handles in corners that really stands out. Its combination of an engine located just behind your head and rear-wheel drive gives it huge levels of grip. Couple this with confidence-inspiring steering and brilliant brakes and you have a car that’ll put a huge smile on your face.
I love everything about the Cayman except the four-cylinder engines. It’s quicker than before and every bit as good to drive, but the six-cylinder Caymans just sound better. End of.
Other sports cars – the Lotus Exige, for example – can do that too, but they can’t match the Cayman’s ease of use every day. With the (expensive) optional adjustable dampers fitted (they’re standard on the GTS and GT4 models), the Cayman soaks up bumps surprisingly well – even with huge 20-inch alloy wheels fitted – and the even pricier PDK automatic gearbox is worth buying if you often drive in slow city traffic.
Thanks to the Cayman’s front and rear boots, you don’t even need to compromise too much on practicality. The Porsche Cayman has a total luggage capacity of 422 litres – more than a VW Golf – although the boots’ shapes restricts you to carrying soft bags or carry-on cases rather than full suitcases. You only get two seats, of course, but the driver’s seat and steering wheel have a wide range of adjustment so you shouldn’t have any difficulty getting comfortable.
Interior quality is top notch and you can choose from all manner of leather upholstery and trim pieces. That said, even a light dabble in the options list can have the cost of your Cayman soaring. Fortunately, sat-nav is standard. It works via a 7-inch screen and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you can mirror your smartphone’s media and navigation apps to the car’s built-in screen.
In fact, from the inside the Cayman could be mistaken for a sporty executive saloon rather than a track-ready racer, and that’s exactly what makes it a great car. It’s easy to drive on a variety of roads and perfectly at home on the daily commute, but take it to a track day and your friends will need something pretty quick to keep up.
There’s plenty of space for two occupants, but not a huge amount of space for their odds and ends.
As far as sports cars go, the Cayman is pretty practical.
There are only two seats, of course, but there’s a decent amount of headroom and legroom around them, and the seat and steering wheel both offer loads of adjustment.
Anyone will be able to get comfortable, and when they do they’ll be in no doubt that they’re in a proper sports machine, because the driving position is ‘just so’. Perfect.
You’ll need to pack fairly light in a Cayman, at least as far as in-cabin detritus is concerned, because there isn’t an overabundance of storage spots.
The door pockets will only be able to take the very smallest of bottles, or perhaps a carton, but you do have the alternative of putting them in the pretty large glovebox.
There’s a small box by your elbow on the centre console and then a lidded cubby between the seats that you can story your mobile phone in. There are also USB sockets in this cubby and in the glovebox.
But that, as they say, is your lot.
The Porsche Cayman has not one but two boots, with one at the front and one at the back. The one at the front has 150 litres of space, and is basically big enough for three carry-on cases (just).
Under the tailgate lies another boot that offers 272 litres of space (albeit split into two sections). For example, the rear section can only cope with one carry-on case.
Beware, you won’t want too much stuff in the front section because it’ll shoot forward in the event of an emergency stop. Not ideal.
There are few cars that go, handle and stop as well as the Cayman. If you can, go for a six-cylinder car, because the four-cylinder ones sound rubbish.
The entry-level flat-four cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged Cayman has 300hp and can get you from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds.
There’s then a faster S model that has a turbocharged 2.5-litre flat-four engine with 350hp, which is enough to get you from 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds and onto a top speed of 177mph. There’s also a T model with the same power as the entry-level car, and therefore the same performance,.
True performance aficionados will be drawn to the naturally aspirated six-cylinder 4.0-litre engine in the GTS 4.0, which develops both 400hp and the sort of noise that’ll get the hair up on the back of your neck. It can cover the 0-62mph dash in 4.5 seconds and carry on to 182mph.
Finally, the Cayman GT4 has the same 4.0-litre flat-six motor, but tuned to 420hp, which means 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 189mph.
As for economy, the 2.0-litre turbo models can do an average of 30.4mpg, while the six-cylinder GTS model averages 27.0mpg.
The Cayman really is the sort of car to make you get up early and go for a blast. It really is that good.
The engine located just behind your head and rear-wheel drive give it huge levels of grip, while the steering gives you a detailed synopsis of how well the road surfaces have done their job, and how much grip the front tyres have.
If you drive mostly in town, we can understand why you’d choose the semi-automatic PDK transmission, but if you use your Cayman the way Porsche intended the manual is the way to go. It’s a beautiful, quick shift that’ll have you swapping cogs just for the joy of it. There’s even a system that can blip the throttle for you on downshifts, which will make you feel like even more a of a hero.
Finally, there are the brakes, which stop you even quicker than a solid surface. Basically, it’ll put a huge smile on your face.
Now, other sports cars – the Lotus Exige, for example – can do that too, but the Cayman has them licked for everyday ease of use. The (expensive) optional adjustable dampers soak up bumps surprisingly well – even with huge 20-inch alloy wheels fitted. They’re well worth it.
Beautiful to look at with a superb driving position, but the infotainment is a long way from cutting edge.