Since the first release of the cheapest Porsche (sports car) on the market, critics and fans the world over have lauded the rear-wheel-drive Cayman for its brilliant handling and everyday usability, both of which make it a regular feature at the top of luxury sport coupe rankings everywhere. 2019's model sticks with the recently introduced trend of a turbocharged four-cylinder boxer in the middle of the car. A 2.0-liter or a 2.5-liter option are available, with the base model producing 300 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque, while the top trim GTS model makes 365 hp and 309 lb-ft. With brilliant steering, handling, and straight-line performance, the 718 Cayman's worst feature is its lack of standard equipment and a somewhat flat soundtrack. Competitors like the Jaguar F-Type and BMW M2 Competition have it beat here, but can't match its deftness and composure in the bends. The 718 starts just below $57,000 with the S coming in at $69,300 and the range-topping GTS costing a smidge over $80,000. A fantastic six-speed manual is standard with Porsche's dual-clutch PDK gearbox an option.
Updates for the 2019 model year have been minimal, with the GTS model only gaining a sports exhaust system as standard where previously it was an option and Porsche Car Connect services being included across the range. This allows for remote services, vehicle status updates, and vehicle tracking to be monitored via a connected smartphone app.
The base 718 Cayman fitted with a 300 hp 2.0-liter turbo starts at $56,900, excluding the $1,250 destination charge, licensing, taxes, and other fees. Opting for the 350 hp 2.5-liter turbo Cayman S will cost $69,300, while the top trim in the lineup, the GTS, starts at $80,700. Each of these models comes with a six-speed manual, but a seven-speed dual-clutch PDK gearbox can be added for $3,210 in either the Cayman or Cayman S. Speccing this box in the GTS costs $3,730. Fully-loaded and heavily optioned, we managed to max-out the online configurator at an eye-watering $146,741 including delivery. A more representative final figure with a few essential options ticked would add between $7,000 and $10,000 to the base prices of the 718 and 718 S.
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The mark of a true Porsche product is the way it dances in the corners, and this 718 Cayman is no different. Steering is precise, direct, and confidence-inspiring. As with most electrically-assisted setups, there is a shortage of feel when driving on the limit, but this is still one of the best EPAS systems out there. Thanks to its mid-mounted motor, the 718 Cayman's balance and poise are phenomenal, and the racing heritage is clear to see. The standard Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management allows for sharp handling coupled with daily comfort and driveability. Even when presented with a bump midway through a bend, the Cayman remains composed, and if a bit of hooliganism is required, disabling the stability management will allow a little bit of sideways action.
Opting for the GTS model allows one to upgrade the PASM to a sportier variant with stiffer springs and even more agility. This model also features torque vectoring as standard, a brake-based differential system that facilitates even more hardcore driving pleasure. When it comes time to cruise, flicking the suspension and steering back into more relaxed modes allows for a comfortable and smooth drive. Braking is similarly brilliant, but still easy to use in traffic too.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
The Cayman is tailored after a specific kind of owner, one who is interested in driving dynamics above all else. Yes, you pay extra for almost every single bit of tech that you might want to use on a daily basis - Apple CarPlay and navigation systems spring to mind here - but when you're behind the wheel of a 718, all the optional extras fall away. All that matters is how good it is to drive. There are other luxury sports cars out there with more power and more space, but none of them, and this is no exaggeration, not a single one of them can hold a candle to how well balanced and brilliant to drive the Cayman is. The 911 overshadows the 718 in many respects, but the simplicity and perfection of the driving experience in a Cayman is unrivaled, and despite its pricey options list and obvious impracticality as anything more than a driving machine, owning the 718 is more than just a status symbol. It's the mark of a discerning driver, a connoisseur.
If you can afford to, the GTS is a phenomenal buy. However, there is almost no such thing as a bad Porsche. Any option will be rewarding to drive at both high and low speeds, and all of them look brilliant. However, as an all-round daily driver, the Cayman S is probably your best bet, offering the best range with barely any sacrifice in fuel economy over the base model, as well as 350 hp, which is plenty in a car this light. It also has the 2.5-liter engine which sounds better than the base model's 2.0-liter, and you only concede 15 hp to the range-topping GTS. We'd have ours in PDK-form, just so that the Sport Chrono Package could be fully utilized, and we'd add the Premium Package Plus for more comfort. All in, this spec would cost not too much more than $80k, which is a performance bargain when you consider the car's supreme handling.
The 718 family is comprised of two distinct base members, the Cayman and the Boxster. The fundamental difference between these two is that the former has a conventional roof while the latter allows open-top motoring through its folding canvas soft-top. Essentially, the choice between these two will be based on whether you want the wind in your hair or not, as they both have access to the same engines and options, and their looks are almost identical besides the obvious. We'd be happiest with a Cayman, as a hard-top is always less compromised in terms of structural rigidity and weight. The Cayman is also around two grand cheaper across the range, but buying the Boxster is unlikely to be a regretful purchase either. It all just comes down to what you prefer living with day to day: limitless headroom or a cocoon of a car.
On paper, the BMW M2 Competition is leagues ahead of the Porsche, boasting over 400 hp and a much more palatable price tag. Even fully loaded, the Bimmer won't exceed $70,000, which is something only the most sparsely equipped Porsches can claim. The M2 also gets more standard options like dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable seating, navigation, Apple CarPlay, and an adaptive exhaust. However, the best time that the M2 can manage in the sprint from 0-60 mph is 4.2 seconds, meaning that the lighter Porsche can out-launch it. Nevertheless, Porsche ownership is about more than just the figures. The steering is simply unbeatable, and the experience of driving a Porsche is all-encompassing. There's not much wrong with the way the BMW drives, but take a Cayman for a spin and everything that other brands have to offer might just pale in insignificance.
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