Porsche 718 Cayman review - Engines, performance and drive
Porsche offers a mix of four- and six-cylinder engines, helping ensure the 718 Cayman is a great car to drive in all its guises
In a world where increasingly stringent emissions regulations mean that big manufacturers look every which way to lower CO2 and NOx outputs, Porsche saw fit to ditch the Cayman’s naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine in favour of a more frugal flat-four-cylinder turbo. However, it has now since reintroduced a 4.0-litre, six-cylinder unit in the GTS version.
The four-cylinder engine comes in 2.0-litre form for the Cayman and Cayman T, while the S version has a larger capacity 2.5-litre unit. Enthusiasts will moan about the muted noise, but if you can put this to the back of your mind, the 718 Cayman, T and S variants are sweeter and more playful than ever before.
Keep the turbo spooled and the Cayman pulls keenly to the red line, making light work of tight overtaking manoeuvres. The entry-level car will do 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds (4.7s with the sport chrono package fitted), while the 718 Cayman T offers no more speed or acceleration, but instead adds Porsche’s Torque Vectoring with a limited-slip differential, active suspension management, a lowered ride height and customisable driving modes via the Sport Chrono system.
The Cayman S dispatches the 0-62mph sprint in 4.9 seconds (4.2 seconds with the sport chrono package). We’d recommend the six-speed manual if you want a purer connection to the car, although the lightning-fast PDK auto is an excellent performer, too. The GTS manages 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, while its tweaked chassis and added kit means it's even sharper to drive.
All models get super-sharp steering, and thanks to the fact Porsche engineers have fitted the engine behind the rear seats, balance is exemplary. You’ll have to push really hard (and deactivate the electronic control systems) to lose traction thanks to grippy wide-section rear tyres – but that doesn’t detract from the car’s playful nature. The Cayman remains totally flat through longer corners, while the torquey engine will slingshot you out of tighter bends.
Car group tests
- BMW M2 CS vs Porsche 718 Cayman GTS vs Alpine A110 S
- Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 vs Renault Megane R.S. Trophy-R
- New Porsche Cayman GT4 PDK 2021 review
- New Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 2020 review
- New Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 2019 review
- New Porsche 718 Cayman T 2019 review
Used car tests
Amazingly, however, all this power and performance doesn’t translate to a lumpy or bumpy ride. The Cayman handles with finesse and isn’t upset by Britain’s rough and rutted roads. If you spec the larger 19 or 20-inch wheels you might find tyre roar is an issue, but with the optional adaptive dampers the Cayman remains unflustered.
GTS cars cost a lot more than the four-cylinder models, but come with added kit that makes them even better to drive. The premium is around £10,000 over the Cayman S, but for that you get (as well as two extra cylinders) Porsche’s Sport Chrono Package, adaptive (PASM) dampers and a limited-slip differential. The gear shift is just as precise, while the standard-fit sports exhaust adds a bit of spice.
Porsche offers a choice of three engines in the current-generation Cayman. The standard Cayman and and Cayman T both make 296bhp and 380Nm of torque, from a 2.0-litre flat-four unit. The S retains the same amount of cylinders, but offers a larger-capacity 2.5-litre engine delivering an extra 50bhp, with a torque figure of 420Nm.
The GTS model returns to familiar flat-six territory, with a 4.0-litre powerplant managing 394bhp, while the GT4 puts out 414bhp from the same engine. Both versions have an equal torque figure at 420Nm.
Our biggest complaint is the four-cylinder noise. While many buyers will revel in the Cayman’s accessible performance at lower revs, the downsized engines and added turbocharger mean you don’t enjoy the same aural thrills as when driving a six-cylinder model. It’s a minor bugbear, however, when you consider how fast and rewarding the 718 is to drive. If noise were an issue, we’d recommend trying the open-top Boxster, which actually suits the turbo slightly better. Its sound certainly didn’t seem as confined and disruptive in the cabin on our various test drives of the roadster.
In this review
- 1Porsche 718 Cayman reviewThe entry-level Porsche coupe is no poor-man's choice, as it's arguably more exploitable than the firm's faster models
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingPorsche offers a mix of four- and six-cylinder engines, helping ensure the 718 Cayman is a great car to drive in all its guises
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe benefit of a turbocharger is better fuel economy and lower emissions – although you still have the full-fat, six-cylinder option
- 4Interior, design and technologyLike all Porsches, the 718 Cayman is beautifully built – but be careful with the options list as kit is stingy and costs can spiral
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Porsche 718 Cayman is a two-seat sports car, and as a result doesn’t benefit from particularly practical packaging
- 6Reliability and SafetyPorsche tends to fare well when it comes to reliability and safety, but those high star ratings don’t come cheap