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Porsche 718 Cayman Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2016
      Body type
      Performance
      Fuel type
      Petrol
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
Benchmark sportscar, in any class

Best bits

  •  Incredible poise, balance and agility mixed with good ride comfort
  •  The engine in the GTS is sensational 
  •  Surprisingly useable day-to-day, the 718 Cayman is actually quite practical with two useful luggage compartments    

Not so great

  • Those four-cylinder engines offer plenty performance, but don’t sound particularly good
  • You’ll end up spending a good bit more on the plentiful options list
  • Switch to turbocharged four-cylinder engines was for economy, and it’s not really worked

Read by

Porsche 718 Cayman Side Front View

Overall verdict

Porsche 718 Cayman Front Interior

On the inside

Porsche 718 Cayman Front View

Driving

Porsche 718 Cayman Rear View

How much does it cost to run

Porsche 718 Cayman Left Side View

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"At the very top of its class, the Porsche 718 Cayman is a supremely competent, useable and enjoyable sportscar in any form, but in GTS 4.0 guise it’s absolutely sublime. You need to spend a bit on options, which makes it expensive, but on the road, it feels worth every penny, and more. A brilliant driver’s car that also manages the daily grind, the 718 Cayman is, rightfully, head and shoulders above its class rivals, and betters many cars in classes above."

Porsche 718 Cayman Side Front View

It took Porsche eight years after launching its Boxster to offer the popular, entry-level sportscar as a coupe, but in 2005 the Porsche Cayman was finally launched in 987 form. It’s been a mainstay in the range, since, right up to the current 981 model, which now, unlike previously, is priced slightly below the Boxster in the line-up. Like its open Boxster relation, the 718 Cayman is the sportscar yardstick, being the car which all its rivals have to beat in the class, but few come close.


It took Porsche eight years after launching its Boxster to offer the popular, entry-level sportscar as a coupe, but in 2005 the Porsche Cayman was finally launched in 987 form.


It’s been a mainstay in the range, since, right up to the current 981 model, which now, unlike previously, is priced slightly below the Boxster in the line-up. Like its open Boxster relation, the 718 Cayman is the sportscar yardstick, being the car which all its rivals have to beat in the class, but few come close. 


Unsurprisingly, there’s a Cayman coupe version of all the 718 Boxster models, so the range starts with the base 718 Cayman followed by the 718 Cayman T, 718 Cayman S then the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0. Above that there’s a 718 Cayman GT4, it built by Porsche’s Motorsport department, and different enough to warrant its own report. 


The 718 badge was introduced in 2016, it denoting the switch from flat-six naturally-aspirated engines, to turbocharged flat-four engines. If you’re well-read on Porsche history then you’ll know 718 was a successful four-cylinder powered racing model in the late 1950s, though even that retrospective nod isn’t enough to convince some of Porsche’s most hardcore fans that a four-cylinder Cayman is right. To appease that small, vociferous fan base Porsche reneged, adding the GTS 4.0 into the range in 2020, with a slightly de-tuned version of the 4.0-litre flat-six from its range-topping GT4 model. 


For everyone else the engines are made up of a choice of turbocharged flat-four engines, of either 2.0-litre capacity in the 718 Cayman or Cayman T, and a 2.5-litre version powering the 718 Cayman S. With more power than the engines they replaced, as well as the hope of improved economy, most buyers will be more than happy with the smaller powerplants. Like the six-cylinder units they replaced, the turbocharged four-cylinder engines are still placed right in the middle of the car. 


That engine placement is crucial to how well the 718 Cayman drives, it situated low and right between the axles, creating perfect balance, which is to the enormous benefit of agility. 


Drive any 718 Cayman, even the most modestly powered model, and it’ll make other cars feel mute in their responses, with the quick, accurate steering, fine ride and the superb poise defining how it goes down the road. They are exceptional to drive, and with two luggage areas – one front, the other at the back – they’re also surprisingly practical for a two-seat sportscar. 


That usability means the 718 Cayman doesn’t need to be a weekend plaything, but can be used as your everyday car, which might dictate your choice of transmission. The 718 Cayman is offered with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox, the former so good it’s difficult not to recommend, but that automatic, referred to as PDK, does make the 718 Cayman both slightly quicker as well as a bit easier in traffic. 


Add the kudos of the Porsche brand to the 718 Cayman’s good looks and its class-leading driving dynamics, and it’s little wonder it’s so dominant against its sportscar rivals, and indeed, good enough to humble many cars costing significantly more.


If you're looking for the older version, you need our Porsche Cayman (2013-) review.

Is the Porsche 718 Cayman right for you?

Emphatically, yes. If you’re even considering a sportscar then the 718 Cayman should be on your list, and, really, it should be right at the top of it. To drive it betters all its rivals, though we concede that the Alpine A110 does run it close here, the allure of the Porsche badge allied to the 718 Cayman’s good looks, as well as the easy availability of Porsche dealerships and specialists to maintain it, makes the 718 Cayman difficult to ignore. 


Add a degree of practicality, within the constraints of a two-seat sportscar, and we’re surprised anybody buys anything else. Indeed, one of the only things going against it is its omnipresence, buying a 718 Cayman (or its 718 Boxster relation) not exactly marking you out from the crowd – if you want that then the Alpine A110 is more likely to appeal. We’d buy the Porsche, though, and we’d heartily recommend you do so, too.

What’s the best Porsche 718 Cayman model/engine to choose?

If budget is not really a consideration then we’d pick the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0, as that naturally aspirated (non-turbo) flat-six four-litre engine is an incredible companion to the Cayman’s sensational chassis. It actually looks like a bargain, too, alongside both its own Cayman GT4 relative (which uses the same engine) and the 911 line-up above it. 


If money is a bit tighter than the circa £67,000+ you’d need to spend on a modestly optioned GTS 4.0, then the four-cylinder cars are still special to drive, if lacking some character in the engine department. All are easy to recommend, but the 718 Cayman T, with the smaller 2.0-litre engine and suspension largely borrowed from the GTS is the sharpest to drive if that matters to you, and at its best with the manual transmission.


If you’re slightly less concerned about the purity of the drive, then either the 718 Cayman or 718 Cayman S are good, too, with the PDK automatic making it an easier day-to-day proposition.


What other cars are similar to the 718 Cayman?

Obviously there’s the option of its 718 Boxster relation, if you’re after an open-topped car, but otherwise direct rivals are relatively few if you’re after a small coupe.


The Alpine A110 is the closest rival, to drive at least, it lacking the brand pull of the Porsche, and its interior is woeful in comparison, likewise anything from Lotus in the 718 Cayman’s price bracket. Others you might consider are the BMW 2 Series Coupe and its BMW M2 flagship, the Jaguar F-Type coupe, or Audi TT coupe. Both the BMW and Audi rivals are more practical choices, as they come with a pair of additional seats (albeit in a +2 guise in the TT).

Learn more

Porsche 718 Cayman Front Interior

On the inside

Porsche 718 Cayman Front View

Driving

Porsche 718 Cayman Rear View

How much does it cost to run

Porsche 718 Cayman Left Side View

Prices, versions and specification

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