If we’re referring to the response to the new 718 Cayman S as being negative, that’s a huge understatement. To be honest with you I can’t think of a recent car that caused such a stir with Porsche fans and that made me want to find out if there’s really substance behind the reason that purists got so upset with Porsche over this new 718.
The 718 Cayman S has a 2.5l 4 cylinder engine capable of producing 350hp and 420Nm of torque. The car I’m driving today is equipped with Porsche’s PDK transmission and it also has the Sport Chrono pack. Which means that it can go from 0 to 100km/h in just 4.2 seconds and it’s capable to reaching 285km/h. Hugely impressive stuff.
A bit of history
Anticipating the wave of negative reactions they were going to get, Porsche decided to add three numbers to the Cayman name. Not any random numbers but 718. A shoutout to a motorsport legend. For those of you who are not familiar with Porsche’s history, the old 718 was a racing car produced by the Stuttgart brand between 1957 and 1962.
It was a 570kg two seater that won the Le Mans race two times in its class, it also won the famous Targa Florio rally and two European Hill Climbing championships. And even though both cars share the same name the only other similarity between them is that both have a four cylinder engine.
This is the reason why Porsche upset its loyal fans. Moving away from a naturally aspirated 3.4l six cylinder engine to a 2l four cylinder unit will have its downsides. The most notable one is the noise.
And even though this is the first Porsche I’ve ever driven, it’s clear to me why the fans got upset. The 718 Cayman S doesn’t sound bad per se but it doesn’t come close to what a six cylinder sounds like, not even in Sports+ mode. And the problem is that the engine doesn’t scream anymore even though you can rev it out until 7500rpm. It just sort of barks like an angry bear and that’s it. There’s no top end noise to it.
The PDK transmission is fabulous. It’s really fast in manual mode and also very usable when you leave it in sport automatic. It keeps the power unit at high rpm most of the time and that allows the car to avoid the engine’s pretty pronounced turbo lag. Up until in reaches 3000 rpm the engine’s response is not what you would expect from a 350hp sports coupe, but once you’re above that figure the car takes off.
The Stuttgart engineers really nailed the steering on this thing. It’s perfectly weighted, it’s very direct and very precise. You just point the car wherever you want it to go and it goes without even a of understeer.
And if you want, you can even floor it mid corner. It doesn’t lean at all but the tail does come into play but in such a controller manner that even a monkey like me can drift it. I can only imagine what a proper driver can do with this car.
The suspension is sublime. Somehow it’s very comfortable and refined on the road but on a track it keeps the car composed through corners without being too firm in the process. Impressive!
And talking about impressive stuff, I really have to mention the brakes as well. After 50kms of track time, they show no signs of fading and they basically stop the car on a dime. And frankly, after spending the day with this car on a track, it’ll be really hard to give this car back to Porsche.
Interior & Practicality
It’s just like a mini 911 on the inside on the new 718 Cayman S. Premium materials everywhere, excellent ergonomics and two fabulous seats that allow you to sit very low in the car. Just what you would expect from Porsche.
But my favourite thing about the interior is the steering wheel. It’s thick enough, it’s the right size and it also features the mode selector switch, just like the one you’d find in a 918.
Technology is also up to par in the new Cayman and the ‘piece de resistance’ is the new infotainment system. It has really good graphics, great colours and it can be operated via a touch screen.
And even though this is a two seater car, it’s actually quite practical. Because it’s mid engined, it basically has two boots. A 125l one in the front and a 275l one in the back. Combined you get a bigger storage area then the one you’d find in a Volkswagen Golf or a Ford Focus.
So now I have to answer the big one. Is there really substance behind the reason why Porsche fans got so upset when the new 718 Cayman S was launched? The answer is quite simple actually. Yes, there is and I totally agree with them on this one.
If I would be the owner on an old Cayman right now I would hesitate to upgrade to this new one. The 718 doesn’t feel as special as the model is replaces and it’s not a refined either after loosing two cylinders.
But if I we’re to judge this car without looking backwards I have to admit that I love everything about it. It’s fast, agile and very powerful. It has a fantastic chassis and by the press of a button it can transform into a comfortable cruiser that you can use everyday.
It’s pretty much the perfect sports car in my book.
Pictures by Andrei Bucsa