COR­NER CARVER

It has new badg­ing, a turbo en­gine and lower pricing, but is it still great?

Car (South Africa) - - DRIVE - PORSCHE 718 CAY­MAN PDK PRICE: ETA:

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.

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