Porsche 718 Cayman

Still brings the good out of it

The exhaust notes from the four-cylinder at idle are still great; but when you rev, it is more of a sharp rasp than the typical Porsche 'mechanical' noise."

"One of the advantages of the hard top Cayman compared to the Boxster, would be better outside noise cancellation."

"The electromechanical steering gear is now borrowed from the 911 range to improve the direct feel."

"Lateral stability is the strongest feature of a high performance car and the Cayman S gives you the best of it," said Ershad.

Driving a car in the supercar infested tarmac of UAE, car owners want to own that special piece of automotive art that will make them stand out of the crowd. It is not a rare sight to see exotic cars dipped in even more exotic colors and flaunting custom parts all around. So, what's special about today's test car?

We have a quick spin in the new Porsche 718 Cayman S finished in a flashy shade, called Miami Blue, which is bound to keep those looks coming; on the road and in parking lots.

Visually, the Cayman S now looks very akin to the Boxster, the only difference being the folding roof. The Boxster is an ever favorite with car enthusiasts around the globe. The simple lines, mid-engine rear-wheel drive layout, soft top and no-nonsense handling traits have won the hearts of almost every driver who has driven one. The Cayman is the hard top version, which has undergone a design upgrade. The new car is essentially easier to look at; a good mix of historic Porsche lines infused with the latest concept cars' flavor. Up front, the Cayman S carries a much more sculpted form with large air intake grilles that point towards the 'S' factor. The LED headlamp units have been redesigned a bit and feature four-point daytime running lights, all incorporated in a black casing, which contrasts great with the Miami Blue shade on this car. The lines from the front follow all the way up the roof, which bubbles up slightly before swooping down towards the rear. This is the only place where the Cayman may feel a bit hesitant when standing next to the drop-down Boxster. Well, that's just common with any car I guess. No roof always looks better than a hard roof.

The profile of the Cayman S looks low, purposeful and very Porsche! The door recess has a beautiful line continued into the wide air intakes, which further hint towards a high-performance engine. The side mirrors have their lower section finished in gloss black, which helps in taking your eyes off of those flashy blue panels everywhere. Dimensions looks tight and 19-inch wheels look bang on target. Even the tires seem to be working in favor of the colors on the car! The rear end of the Cayman S features a new accent strip with Porsche badging between the taillights. Finished in high gloss black, the accent strip makes the rear look really wide with full support from the 265/40 ZR 19 tires. The taillights have been redesigned to incorporate four-point LED brake lamps within a three-dimensional structure, all visible through the clear glass lens. The model name in black lettering just below the accent strip visually improves the 'go-fast' car feel. My only concern is the dual exhaust pipes, which takes away that menacing look of the older Boxster models flaunting that single big exhaust pipe. I would prefer it any day to the new twin pipes.

Stepping in and bringing the Cayman S to life, you feel that instant difference in the boxer gurgle. Cayman S is the newest model to embrace the forced-induction technology departing from the fuel-hungry free-revving natural aspiration. A four-cylinder turbocharged boxer engine replaces the six-pot boxer from the previous model. The new engine now produces 350 horsepower on the 'S' version, 25 horsepower up from the previous six-cylinder. The new engine employs a mono turbocharger with VTG (Variable Turbine Geometry), which helps reduce the notorious turbo lag. The exhaust notes from the four-cylinder at idle are still great, but when you rev it is more of a sharp rasp than the typical Porsche mechanical noise. Press hard on the throttle and this Cayman S (equipped with PDK transmission and Sport Chrono package) shoots off to 100 km/h in an impressive 4.4 seconds. The response and speed build-up feels very linear, more like a naturally breathing engine than a turbo. The Sport Chrono package adds a very useful Launch Control feature, which aids in that quick zero-to-100 km/h sprint. 420 Nm of torque available from just under 2,000 to 4,500 rpm ensures that you always get that slingshot pull at any engine speed. Interestingly, the turbo on the 2.5-liter engine powering the Cayman S produces a smaller amount of boost compared to the turbo unit on the 2.0-liter base Cayman. This probably means that Porsche has plans to tune this engine further for yummier versions of the 718 Cayman. A look at the straight-line power and torque graphs of the Cayman S can reveal the secrets behind the zero-lag performance.

Handling prowess has been one of the prime reasons for the Boxster-Cayman siblings to top the charts for drive feel. Our test Cayman S comes loaded with the optional PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) with a 20-mm lowered ride height, which translates into fighter jet handling precision. The electromechanical steering gear is now borrowed from the 911 range for improving the direct feel. Lightweight spring-strut units optimized by Porsche take up suspension duties on all four corners. Directional changes are met with aplomb and the 19-inch wheels shod with 235-mm tires up front and 265-mm tires on the rear ensure that things are in your grip always. Lateral stability is the strongest feature of a high-performance car and the Cayman S gives you the best of it. High-speed freeway exits or a quick full throttle lane change maneuver, the Porsche never disappoints.

Having the engine right behind your seats is one of the best feelings ever and you can literally feel the engine working through its revs. One of the advantages of the hard top Cayman compared to the Boxster would be better outside noise cancellation so that you can enjoy the exhaust soundtrack at all times, and maybe the 150-watt, eight-speaker audio when you feel like. The cockpit is very Porsche-like with intuitive controls and feels chic with the optional Sport-Tex upholstery in graphite chalk shade. Seats are very welcoming for a sporty drive feel and keep you in place. The PCM (Porsche Communication Management) is the central element for the upgraded interiors. The PCM takes care of navigation, smart phone connectivity and the usual audio controls.

Verdict
The Cayman and Boxster series from Porsche used to score high (close to five stars) on drive reviews, and the step down to a four-cylinder turbo will have an effect on that rating. Even though the new units are more powerful and more efficient than the previous six-pots, you feel a drop of the free revving nature and the lovely six-cylinder boxer rumble. The new sound feels hmm...Subaru STI-ish? But there has been no compromise on design, safety and handling, which we hope will keep it in the top choice for auto enthusiasts. No complaints, but we miss the boxer six!

Pros: Great looks, Miami Blue was a show-stopper, cabin trim, performance, good balance and stability
Cons: We miss the six-cylinder rumble; price range for the additional options is on the higher side
Rivals: Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe, Audi TT, Mercedes-Benz SLC, Alfa Romeo 4C
one word: the best boxer, after Mayweather!
4.5 stars

Specs
2.5L turbocharged flat 4-cylinder, 350 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 420 Nm @ 1,900 - 4,500 rpm
Mid-engine RWD, 7-speed PDK
0-100 km/h: 4.4 sec, top speed: 285 km/h, fuel consumption: 11.5 L/100 km
Weight: 1,385 kg

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