Fans may grumble about the switch to four cylinders, but there’s still lots to love in the Porsche Cayman S
Shortly after I brought the Porsche Cayman S home and posted a photo of it on Instagram, “miamiblue718” started following me, and then “supercarbrad” put his little red heart on my post.
With its Miami Blue paint job ladled over a classic sports-car body, the Cayman S cheered everyone up. Even people riding by my house on bicycles gave a nod of approval.
The Porsche Cayman S is also called the 718. It’s a notch below the storied 911. Could we call it an entry-level Porsche? Probably not. The Cayman S starts at $76,800, the 911 at $104,000.
I think the Cayman S is better looking than the 911, with lines nearing perfection for a sports car. Realists also say it is the better balanced car to drive because the engine is placed in the middle, not behind the rear wheels.
The Cayman S that I tested for a week was $94,445, almost $20,000 more than the base price. It’s pretty typical that some sort of Porsche trance comes over you when you’re at the sales desk and you start saying yes to the options. You tick the special Miami Blue paint option for $3,000, the sports seats at $2,600, the PDK transmission for $3,500 and, before you know it, dreams of home ownership are surrendered to a 1,165-kilogram piece of metal.
But it’s such a sweet surrender. The Cayman S is a blast to drive. It’s astounding that 350 horsepower can produce such seismic fun. Our own Golf R has 300 horsepower and costs $50,000 less. In the Cayman S, it’s about power-to-weight ratio and 309 lb./ft. of torque tightly wound and always ready to hurl the car forward.
While most of the new 2017 design features, such as body panels and exhaust system, are considered an improvement, the switch from a six-cylinder engine to a four-cylinder has made many fans wistful and some even weepy.
Yes, the four-cylinder is more fuel efficient, and still cranks out explosive acceleration, but gone is the stirring sound of the sixcylinder, a sound that appeals to the closet
caveman in us all. Now the turbocharged four-cylinder greets us with a gruff grumble, and every so often descends into a sound like a Subaru. That’s just not right.
Porsche, however, is changing with the times, and developing engines that produce a lot of power in a smaller package and meet ever tighter emission standards. The evidence is zero to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds. No worries about getting the ice cream home before it melts.
So what else is sublime about the Cayman S? Well, the seats are perfect, snug and supportive. Visibility is surprisingly good, and the cabin is just a marvel of crisp craftsmanship. Porsche instrument gauges are works of art, simple and visible in every kind of light.
You can get the Cayman S as a manual, but my tester was the popular seven-speed PDK transmission. Paddle shifters on the steering column allow the driver to slap through the gears or leave it in auto and let the Cayman think for itself.
With the push of a button or two, the Cayman can be tuned for a more track-like experience. By default the Cayman is in going-to-church mode. Revs are low, the car is in fourth gear before it crosses an intersection, and auto start/stop turns the engine off at traffic lights. It’s sleepy time in Porscheville.
But go for Sport settings and you can wind up the revs to red line, listen to a more manly exhaust note and enjoy an edgy performance. Steering is flawless, precise without being twitchy, and the brakes have the best feel in the business.
On top of all the driving bliss, the Cayman has a trunk fore and aft ¬ because of that mid-engine ¬ with plenty of room for stowables.
So the Cayman S is a compelling bundle of joy with great performance, a bit of practicality and sensational looks. It’s enough to make you forget that once in a while it sounds like a Subaru.