It has new badging, a turbo engine and lower pricing, but is it still great?
PART of me is dreading turning the key. We all savoured the magnificent sound of the previous-generation Cayman’s flat-six engines that ingested fresh air straight from the atmosphere, and this is the first time I will hear its new four-cylinder, turbopetrol replacement. Much has been said about its aural shortcomings. The engine fires with a mechanical noise that is neither melodic nor aggressive, and my trepidation increases – has the Cayman lost some of its soul?
A quick discussion with Porsche personnel before I commenced my drive confirmed that they miss the six cylinder, too: “Unfortunately, in a world with more pressure on efficiency, engine down- sizing had to happen.” They add an important caveat, though: “This is the best Cayman yet,” were their final words.
Keen to put this last statement to the test, I aim the 718 Cayman at some country lanes outside Munich and, with the steering wheel’s rotary driving-mode dial set to sport plus (on vehicles with the optional Chrono Package), drop the hammer.
Turns out they are right. The Cayman revels in being pushed hard, with turn-in as crisp as ever and the balance at the limit impeccable. Even in sport plus, the suspension is still supple and the chassis offers exceptional grip, easily dealing with the 90 N.m of additional torque the turbo four delivers over the previ- ous engine. There is a vague hint of lag, though, and more vibration comes through the car at certain engine speeds. As my familiarity with the new car grows and I establish some driving rhythm, the smile returns to my face. A later drive in the Boxster S fitted with the more powerful 2,5-litre version only broadens that grin.
With the Boxster now closer to the Cayman than ever, offering the same power and torque figures yet now priced higher than its tin-top brother, the Cayman holds even more appeal for the driving enthusiast ... even if they can now hear music over the audio system a little more clearly. By a significant margin, both the Boxster and the Cayman remain the dynamic-handling benchmarks in their categories.