By Bob Nagy
Completely redesigned and adding a “718” prefix to its name, the most affordable member of the Porsche family lineup rolls into 2017 with an even stronger total performance pedigree. Boasting a pair of new horizontally opposed turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, the new-gen 718 Cayman and hotter 718 Cayman S are even quicker and faster, benefiting from suspension, steering and braking revamps that burnish their already brilliant reputations for superb handling and agility. Inside, the 718-spec Caymans feature a more sophisticated design that shares cues with the 911, complemented by the latest Porsche Communications Management infotainment system. Coupled with more creature comforts and driver-assist technologies, Porsche’s new 718 Caymans become even more attractive rivals to cars like the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang GT350 and Nissan 370Z Nismo.
If a more-than-four cylinder count or absolute supremacy to 60 mph is what really matters most in your world, there’s still just no substitute for alternative choices like the Chevy Corvette, Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang or Nissan GT-R.
A complete redesign of the automaker’s most affordable mid-engine sports coupe brings a new name, sharper styling, more-potent 4-cylinder turbocharged engines, upgraded technology and an even higher level of total performance.
Porsche’s new 718 Cayman and Cayman S are two of the most exhilarating sports cars on the market at any price. Quick, agile and with a mid-engine layout that gives...
... each incredible balance, both respond brilliantly and confidently to driver input whether you’re carving corners or just cruising down a freeway. To complement a stronger, more rigid core structure, Porsche revised every Cayman chassis element, revamping suspension hardware, recalibrating damper settings and expanding the rear track. Culled from the 911 Turbo, the new electromechanical steering is 10 percent more direct than before while larger brakes provide even more formidable stopping power. For the ultimate new-Cayman experience, the optional multi-mode Porsche Active Suspension Management system -- now offering a new, even-lower-riding Sport-spec for the Cayman S -- plus Porsche Torque Vectoring and revamped Sport Chrono Package with a new Sport setting let enthusiasts push either Cayman even closer to its absolute handling limits.
Purists may decry the very thought of any automatic transmission in a Porsche, but getting maximum acceleration out of either new 718 Cayman model requires passing on the excellent standard 6-speed manual in favor of the optional and absolutely brilliant 7-speed PDK dual-clutch unit that also includes steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles.
PORSCHE TORQUE VECTORING (PTV)
Optional on both 718 Cayman variants, Porsche Torque Vectoring works in concert with the anti-lock braking system and a mechanical rear differential lock to enhance the available traction and improve agility when the vehicle is turning into or exiting a corner.
Well-finished and smartly presented, the passenger compartment of the 718 Cayman clan gets a stylish remake that brings even more user friendliness to the still cockpit-oriented basic design. A new sport steering wheel inspired by the 918 Spyder and supportive leather-covered sport seats reinforce its driver-focused character, while the redrawn dash boasts better-positioned air vents and houses a new 7.0-inch central touch screen for the now-standard Porsche Communications Management system that features proximity sensors and gesture control.
A comprehensive but focused restyle leaves the new 718 Cayman more closely resembling its soft-top 718 Boxster sibling, which received a similar remake for 2017. Only the forward luggage-compartment cover, roof and windshield carry over. Sharper edges, bolder lighting elements and more prominent side air intakes -- the better to feed and cool new turbocharged powerplants -- give the new Caymans a more intense visual presence set off by an aggressive rear-quarter treatment featuring an auto-extending spoiler and single or dual exhaust outlets. While the Cayman rolls on an 18-inch wheel/tire package, the Cayman S features a more-aggressive 19-inch upfit.
Both the 718 Cayman and Cayman S feature a solid roster of standards headed by comfortably supportive and leather-covered sport buckets with power-adjustable backs, a tilt/telescoping steering column, single-zone climate control, 6-speaker Sound Package Plus audio system with SiriusXM and HD Radio, Porsche Communications Management system and front/rear Park Assist. In addition to eight airbags, the new 718 Caymans come with a wide range of electronic stability aids, tire-sealing compound plus an air compressor in place of a spare tire and complimentary roadside assistance for the duration of the limited warranty.
In typical Porsche style, the 718 Cayman and Cayman S offer a huge selection of optional upgrades and personalization touches. On the performance-related front, the cars can be upfitted with a multifunction GT steering wheel, Porsche Active Suspension Management, Porsche Torque Vectoring, the Sport Chrono Package, Adaptive Cruise Control with Porsche Active Safety, Lane Change Assist and Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes. Complementing a bounty of available interior and exterior cosmetic touches, both models offer LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, Navigation and Porsche Connect modules, a selection of seat upgrades with up to 18-way-power adjustability plus Bose and Burmester premium audio systems.
Porsche replaced the Cayman’s naturally aspirated flat-6 engines with a pair of new turbocharged flat-4s in the 718 models and while some purists decry their less-intense exhaust notes, there’s little else to complain about here. Fitted with driver-selectable Stop/Start systems, both the base 2.0-liter and the S-spec 2.5-liter with a 911 Turbo-style variable-geometry force feeder boast more power -- 300 and 350 horses, respectively -- while generating greater torque at lower revs than the previous 2.7-liter and 3.4-liter engines. Each delivers even quicker acceleration regardless of transmission with just a modest fuel-economy decrease. All PDK-equipped Caymans also boast a Sport button that further sharpens throttle response and quickens shift times.
2.0-liter turbocharged flat-4
300 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 1,950-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg (6-speed manual), 22/29 mpg (7-speed dual-clutch automatic)
2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4
350 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
309 lb-ft of torque @ 1,900-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 mpg (6-speed manual), 21/28 mpg (7-speed dual-clutch automatic)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 718 Cayman has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $55,000 with the Cayman S closer to $67,500. The Audi TTS Coupe, Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang and Corvette Grand Sport start around $53,500, $56,800 and $66,500, respectively, while the Nissan GT-R Premium pushes $111,000. Optioning any new Cayman can send its price skyward in a hurry. Adding extras like the PDK automatic, Porsche Active Suspension Management, Porsche Torque Vectoring, the Sport Chrono Package and a Navigation Module will kick the bottom line up by almost $10,500 and loading a Cayman S with optional convenience/cosmetic elements can move it perilously close to 6-figure territory. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what folks in your area are paying for Porsche’s 2017 Caymans. The good news is that the Cayman has a great residual value history that could well get even stronger with these new 718-spec variants.