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Porsche has only one tiny problem with the Cayman S. It’s so good, it’s a close competitor to their own iconic 911. The performance margins are close; the 911 has more interior space and is perhaps more of a GT, while the Cayman S is mid-engined and arguably even more agile. In this, the fourth generation Cayman there’s another significant difference; all 718 Cayman and Boxster models are now powered by turbocharged four-cylinder engines. That explains the name, which recalls the legendary four-cylinder Porsche 718 race car of the 1960s that chalked up thousands of class and race victories.
The 718 Cayman S is low, wide and sleek and looks great from every angle, with a ground-hugging stance that is emphasised by horizontal strakes in the lower air intakes. Porsche design is all about evolution, so the Cayman’s front wings still stand proud of the bonnet line in time-honoured Porsche fashion, but now feature faired-in Bi-Xenon headlamps with four LED running lights. At the side, there’s a large air intake just behind the trailing edge of the door to feed the mid-engined turbo four, and the rear treatment includes an accent trim to reinforce the impression of width. Central twin exhausts distinguish 2.5-litre S models from their 2.0-litre siblings.
More power for less fuel (and less CO2) is Porsche’s reasoning for introducing the new four-cylinder engines. The 2.5-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine of the 718 Cayman S produces 350hp at 6,500 rpm, while the variable geometry turbocharger that’s unique to S models is responsible for the huge 420Nm of torque all the way from 1,950 to 4,500 rpm. 0-62mph takes as little as 4.2 seconds with the PDK transmission and optional Launch Control, and top speed is 177mph.
All 718 models are equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission optimally matched to their respective engine maps while the racier 7-speed PDK, featuring both a manual and an automatic mode, is available as an option.
The Cayman S is equipped with an enhanced Porsche Stability Management (PSM), an automatic control system for maintaining stability at the limits of dynamic driving performance. Options include Porsche Torque Vectoring, which works by varying the amount of torque transmitted to the rear wheels and tightens the line in hard cornering.
In-car Infotainment includes a Connect Plus module with smartphone compartment, Porsche Car Connect and Apple® CarPlay, LTE telephone module with SIM card reader, wireless internet access, online navigation and comprehensive Porsche Connect services. A digital radio comes as standard, with Bose® Surround Sound or Burmeister® High-End Surround Sound as cost options.
The Cayman S hasfull-size driver and passenger airbags, which are inflated in two stages depending on the severity and type of accident. The Porsche Side Impact Protection System (POSIP comprises side impact protection elements in the doors and two airbags on each side. There’s an integral thorax airbag in each seat side bolster, while the door panels each contain an upwards-inflating head airbag.
Porsche’s resurrection of the 718 name from its giant-killing past reminds us that sports car nirvana doesn’t have to have six cylinders. But the Cayman S isn’t about retro nostalgia. Instead, it confirms the genius of Porsche’s engineers in using advanced technology to deliver outstanding performance and agility in a mid-engined coupé. From weekend trackdays to weekday commutes, the Cayman S is still a giant-killer.
|Unladen Weight (DIN)||1,355kg|
|Engine / Cylinders||2.5 litre / flat-4|
|Max Torque||420Nm @ 1900-4500rpm|
|Max Power||350hp @ 6500 rpm|
|Top Speed||177 mph|
|Acceleration 0-62 mph||4.2 seconds (with launch control)|
|Combined Cycle||38.7 mpg|
|Urban Cycle||29.7 mpg|