The new 718 Cayman S has more power, more torque, steers great, breaks well and the interiors are lovely too. It’s everything a newer model of an iconic sports car should be. But it isn’t.
Let’s start by looking at the facts first. The new Cayman, like the Boxster, has a new engine. Porsche has replaced the naturally aspirated flat six with a four-cylinder turbo. The 2.5-litre engine in the Cayman S delivers 345bhp and 310lb ft of torque, which is clearly more than the old 3.4-litre engine that offered 321bhp and 273lb ft. That means it has better acceleration, the manual S does 0-100kph in 4.6 secs, whereas the old one took 5.0 secs. The smaller turbocharged engines are also claimed to be more efficient.
It would seem it offers even better driving dynamics than the old Cayman. The 718 uses the same steering rack in the 911 Turbo, which translates to a perfectly weighted setup. This mid-engined, rear-wheel drive coupe has huge levels of grip that gives courage even to the not-so-skilled drivers to drive closer to the edge.
So what’s the problem? Well, the main complaint that many petrol heads have been shouting over is that the sound and feel of the four-cylinder turbocharged engine just isn’t as good as the 3.4 naturally aspirated flat six. While the new 718 Cayman S isn’t exactly quiet nor has any significant lag, but it still doesn’t match up to the driving experience of the sonorous, wailing, responsive or tuneful flat six. You can listen to the engine here ( which to the thrill-seeking drivers and fans of the old Cayman sounds, cheap):
That is the debate. The 718 Cayman S drives like a sports car, looks like one, it’s fast enough, but it just doesn’t have the soul of one. While I understand the global shift towards more environment conscious automotive experiences without compromising on speed, a sports car is not supposed to be about practicality or being easy to drive, that’s not why one buys these types of cars.
To sum it up, the 2017 Cayman S is a brilliant car, just not mind-blowing, and that’s what it needed to be.
(All information from Porsche 718 microsite, http://www.topgear.com/car-reviews/718-cayman-s-2016/first-drive , http://www.caranddriver.com/porsche/718-cayman )