Ignition

2017 PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN I

Story and Photograph­y by Lee Bailie $74,270 AS TESTED

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could summarize the 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman by saying that it resides at the intersecti­on of price and performanc­e, and be done with it. But there's much more to it than that.

Known simply as the Boxster and Cayman prior to 2017, 718 was added to both cars as a means of honouring the race car of the same name that competed in several forms of motorsport­s, including Le Mans and Formula One, from 1957-1962.

The 2017 model year also marks the debut of the fourthgene­ration, which sees a more streamline­d lineup for both cars. In Canada, this means two models (base and S) powered by two turbocharg­ed flat fours that replace three naturally aspirated flat-sixes of the previous gen.

In the case of the base 718 Cayman ($61,500 base MSRP), it comes with a 2.0L turbocharg­ed flat four-cylinder engine that's mid-mounted and drives the rear wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmissi­on.

Its 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque isn't overwhelmi­ng in 2017, until you drill further down in the spec sheet and realize that it has a 5.1 second 0-100 km/h time and a top track speed of 275 km/h. Fast indeed.

My tester was optioned out with more than $11,000 in extra equipment, but it is important to note that the 718 Cayman does come equipped with a great deal of standard content.

In addition to the core mechanical­s mentioned previously, the 718 Cayman also comes with 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero summer tires, Bi-xenon HID headlights, LED DRLS and tail lights, leather seats, Bluetooth and an eight speaker, 150-watt Bose audio system among other features.

On the road, the 718 Cayman is simply a pleasure to drive, especially when you're able to shift the gears yourself. The clutch has a light and smooth engagement feel, and it works seamlessly with the short throw shifter. Combined with a 2.0L turbo four's 7,200 rpm redline, extracting the available performanc­e out of the car is both fun and drama-free. And doing so makes for a pleasing automotive soundtrack.

Selectable drive modes, variable shock damping and adjustable ride height (all via console-mounted buttons), allow the ride and performanc­e character of the 718 Cayman to be fine-tuned for both track and street applicatio­ns. I should note, however, that the latter two are available via the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management System ($2,050).

On the inside, the 718 Cayman's interior suits its serious sports performanc­e machine ethic. It's not the most dazzling interior I've been in, but that really isn't the reason to own a Porsche, in my view. That said, everything works fine, and I am pleased to see that just about every adjustable feature is governed by a hard key, switch or knob of some sort.

From a pricing standpoint, the 718 Cayman is one of the most affordable cars Porsche sells. But it is designed, engineered and built around the same basic principles as its pricier siblings.

In that regard, it's the best of both worlds – as much a sports car as they are, but within the reach of many.

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