Porsche 718 Cayman coupe
Price £39,878 - £48,834
- Incredibly quick and enjoyable to drive
- Greatly improved running costs
- Beautiful interior
- Minimal standard equipment
- Options are numerous and expensive
- New engine has lost some of the Porsche magic
At a glance
"The Porsche 718 Cayman is a joy to drive, a pleasure to sit in and great to look at. It’s just a shame the engines are more economical than they are characterful."
The Porsche 718 Cayman is a two-seater sports car with few direct competitors. If you’re in the market for this kind of car, you may want to look at the BMW Z4, Audi TT or Nissan 370Z, but while these three cars are about £10,000 less expensive, none is as exciting to drive as the 718 Cayman.
Speaking of price, the old Cayman was more expensive than its convertible Boxster sister model, but the new 718 Cayman is actually a couple of thousand pounds cheaper than the 718 Boxster stablemate, making it the most affordable car in Porsche’s range. You’ll still need about £40,000 if you want one – and significantly more once you’ve added a few choice options – but given the performance on offer, the 718 Cayman looks like a relative bargain, particularly when you consider that the Porsche 911 is about £35,000 more.
The 718 Cayman is offered in two guises, the standard version and the S model. The regular 718 Cayman has a 296bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which is powerful enough to get the car from 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds, or 4.9 seconds if you spend a couple of thousand pounds on the seven-speed automatic gearbox. Choosing the 718 Cayman S costs an extra £9,000 or so, and for that you get a 345bhp 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which sees the 0-62mph time drop to 4.6 seconds – or 4.2 seconds for cars fitted with the automatic gearbox and ‘launch control’. That’s actually faster than the Porsche 911.
Depending on which engine and gearbox you choose, the 718 Cayman can return as much as 40.9mpg and cost as little as £185 a year in road tax. True, the 718 Cayman will cost you more to run than a supermini, but it’s almost hard to square the speed on offer with the claimed economy figures – although spirited driving will bring fuel consumption down to levels more in keeping with a sports car.
There’s a price to be paid for that impressive efficiency, though, and it comes behind the wheel rather than at the pumps. The 718’s engines are smaller than they used to be, and unlike the old Cayman’s engines, develop their power with the aid of turbocharging. This brings two unwelcome changes: firstly, the engines aren’t as smooth as they used to be, with a (very slight) hesitation noticeable before the power-producing turbo comes to life.
The second hardship is more obvious: it concerns how the 718 Cayman sounds. This is, after all, a car aimed at driving enthusiasts, who tend to care about the noise a car makes when it’s accelerating; in this regard, the 718 Cayman disappoints. It’s by no means unpleasant or unduly noisy, but the car it replaces had a distinctly characterful and almost tuneful engine, which is notable in its absence from the new 718 Cayman.
That’s just about the only bad news, though. In almost every other regard, you can have more fun in a 718 Cayman than almost any other car at this price. There’s an enormous amount of grip, so corners can be taken at a grin-inducing speed, while despite the necessary stiffness the suspension must have in order to achieve this, bumps in the road are impressively smoothed out; the 718 Cayman’s overall driving experience is both thrilling and comfortable.
The 718 Cayman is unlikely to be put through Euro NCAP’s safety tests – it’s too much of a niche model for this to happen – but Porsche takes safety seriously and is renowned for its excellent brakes. Other safety features include airbags that inflate in two stages depending on the seriousness of any collision. Reliability should also be good, with Porsche owners rating the brand seventh out of 32 manufacturers, with a second-place result for build quality.
It seems almost alchemy that a car as fast as the Porsche 718 Cayman offers the economy it does
Engines aside, almost every aspect of the Porsche 718 Cayman is special
If you’re happy only being able to carry one passenger, the Porsche 718 Cayman is spacious and beautifully built inside
For a two-seater sports car, the Porsche 718 Cayman is pretty practical
The thorough engineering of the Porsche 718 Cayman means it should be a safe and reliable car