by Sebastian Cenizo
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.
Each of the Cayman variants is instantly recognizable as a Porsche, with subtle differences between trims, all of which feature LED running lights. The base model is shod with 18-inch tires while the 718 S upgrades to 19s and has a twin-exit exhaust and red brake calipers to set it apart from the base model. The GTS at the top of the range gets 20-inch wheels and unique bumpers, as well as black badging. All models feature a rear light bar that spans the width of the tailgate beneath the integrated spoiler, upon which the 718 Cayman badge is carried.
The 718 in regular and S form is 172.4 inches long, 70.9 inches wide (with mirrors folded), and 51 inches tall. The GTS is slightly longer, at 172.9 inches, but also marginally lower, measuring 50.6 inches. The wheelbase is 97.4 inches throughout. The base 718's curb weight starts at 2,944 lbs, while the S weighs in at 2,988 lbs and the GTS comes in at 3,032 lbs. Each model's weight is based on the fitment of the standard six-speed manual; optioning the seven-speed PDK adds 66 lbs to the base curb weight of each model.
Each model in the 718 Cayman range is available in the same colors, four of which are no-cost options: White, Black, Guards Red, and Racing Yellow. Metallic options cost $650 and include Carrara White, Jet Black, Night Blue, Agate Grey, and GT Silver. There are also four special colors to choose from, each commanding a premium of $2,580: Carmine Red, Chalk, Lava Orange, and Miami Blue. We're quite partial to the Carmine Red option, but if none of these shades are to your liking, you can hand over a whopping $11,430 on top of the cost of the car itself and Porsche will mix any custom color you desire.
The base 718 has the smallest engine in the range, a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder boxer motor that produces 300 hp and 280 lb-ft. With a manual box, this model will do the 0-60 mph sprint in 4.9 seconds. The Cayman S features a 2.5-liter turbo boxer engine that increases power to 350 hp and torque to 309 lb-ft, allowing it to complete the dash from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds. The GTS model uses the same engine as the S but develops 365 hp. Torque is unchanged, and in the manual version, neither is the 0-60 mph time. Optioning the PDK on any variant will drop 0-60 times by 0.2 seconds, with the Sport Chrono package's launch control shaving a further two tenths off the time. The exception is the GTS model, where PDK shifting drops the acceleration time by three tenths to 4.1 without launch control and 3.9 with it. Top speeds are not too different, with the 718 managing 170 mph, the 718 S cracking 177, and the GTS topping out at 180 mph. All models send their power to the rear wheels, making the acceleration times even more impressive, but for those who prefer more security, Jaguar offers all-wheel-drive in the F-Type, along with more sonorous V6 soundtracks.
The 2.0-liter turbo boxer in the base model produces an exhilarating 300 hp and 290 lb-ft. The figures may seem low, but in a car weighing less than 3,000 lbs, the four-pot performs admirably, with sharp throttle response and addictive accelerating power. However, those who have experienced the older non-turbocharged six-cylinder variants will note a distinctly less-appealing exhaust note. Stepping up to the 350 hp 2.5-liter motor in the 718 S remedies the aural inadequacies slightly and brings even more excitement and more willingness to rev. Going for the top trim GTS model will put 365 hp under your right foot and a standard sports exhaust, although the adaptively louder tone of this feature may make it less enjoyable for your neighbors.
All models feature variable drive modes that sharpen the throttle response and gearshifts (in PDK-equipped models), but opting for the Sport Chrono package opens up even more driver modes, making it easier to adjust how the car responds to inputs. The standard six-speed manual is an absolute delight to engage with, Sport mode automatically blipping the throttle on downshifts, but the optional seven-speed PDK box helps cut acceleration times and, despite the removal of the third pedal, is still a joy to operate, responding with lightning-quick efficiency.
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.
The 718 Cayman's base 2.0-liter engine is paired with a 14.2-gallon gas tank and, in manual configuration, will return figures of 21/28/24 mpg city/highway/combined. This will yield a return of around 340 miles per tank. The S model manages figures of 20/26/22 mpg with a manual. Both variants get slightly better consumption figures when fitted with the PDK gearbox, but the S model has a bigger tank at 16.9-gallons and therefore has a range of 371.8 miles with the manual box and 405.6 in PDK format. The GTS has the same gas tank and gets 19/25/21 mpg with the manual and 20/26/22 mpg with the dual-clutch.
The interior of the 718 is, as always with Porsche, perfectly laid out, everything falling to hand perfectly. Build quality is similarly excellent, although one or two interior materials are a bit questionable considering the price that the Cayman commands. Infotainment is taken care of with a seven-inch touch display that features satellite radio as standard, but it isn't the most intuitive system we've ever reviewed and Porsche charges you extra for features like Apple CarPlay and navigation while Android Auto is unavailable. However, the seats are comfortable and supportive, and even the base model's manually-adjustable buckets allow for a good driving position. Heating and ventilation on the seats are optional, as is heating for the steering wheel.
The 718 Cayman is strictly a two-seater thanks to its mid-mounted engine. Some rivals will offer almost useless rear seats which buyers can utilize as extra storage areas, but in the Cayman, there is no compromise. However, Porsches are bought by people who are interested first and foremost in the driving experience, and these keen drivers will be pleased to know that regardless of body type, the Cayman manages its limited interior room well, allowing ideal driving positions for all who get behind the wheel. Getting in and out requires a bit of light contortionism, but once seated, the view out the front is perfect. Backing the car up isn't quite as simple though, and the standard rearview camera is a welcome inclusion.
Options are all but limitless in a Porsche, with the German company offering customization choices for pretty much every aspect of the car's appearance - at an added charge, of course. Readily available options include black, Agate Grey, or Luxor Beige leather, while two-tone options include black and Bordeaux Red, Black and Chalk, and many more. Special colors are available too, with Graphite Blue, Saddle Brown, or Espresso among the choices. Trims can be finished in the same color as your exterior paint, or in brushed aluminum. Other choices include leather, mahogany wood, and of course carbon fiber. The GTS has a special interior package available that pairs generous slathers of Alcantara with contrasting stitching.
The Cayman isn't the most practical vehicle on sale. Yes, it features two trunks - one in the front and another in the usual spot - but neither can accommodate a bag of golf clubs. The front storage compartment holds 5.2 cubic feet of volume while the rear manages 9.7 cubes. Together, you can pack a quartet of overnight bags, but little else will fit, and thanks to the angle of the rear trunk's opening, it's not easy to get stuff in the back without a little creative cargo management.
The cabin is similarly stingy with storage, with a pair of cup holders and narrow door pockets only being supplemented by a shallow glovebox and a passenger-side footwell cargo net. In other words, don't try to fit more than your wallet, phone, and keys in the front.
Although the Cayman may be an entry point in Porsche ownership, it is very much like its 911 brother in that standard equipment is not exactly plentiful. A rearview camera and parking sensors for the front and rear are about all you get with the car, although a parking assistant and a regular cruise control system are included. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, keyless entry with remote start, a heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated power-adjustable seats are available. Launch control and a lap timer are available with the Sport Chrono package, while dual-zone climate control is an option above the standard automatic air conditioning system.
The 718 Cayman's infotainment unit consists of a seven-inch touchscreen display utilizing the Porsche Communication Management interface and that features satellite radio as standard along with Bluetooth, two USB ports, and HD Radio. Apple CarPlay is available, as is navigation, but Android Auto is not. The system responds quickly to inputs and is generally easy to use, but due to the placement and size of the screen, using the system while driving can be a little too distracting for some. Media is played through eight speakers as standard with a 10-speaker Bose upgrade available or, for those who really take their music quality seriously, a 12-speaker Burmester system is also available.
The 2019 Cayman has earned an astoundingly good reliability rating of 89/100 from J.D. Power but has been subject to one recall in February of 2019 for a component that could cause a fuel leak if the car suffers a crash. In the event of a problem with the car, Porsche covers the 718 with a limited warranty and a powertrain warranty for the first four years or 50,000 miles. Complimentary maintenance is also included for the first year or 10,000 miles of ownership.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has yet rated the 718 Cayman in any guise, although this is not uncommon for luxury sports cars.
Standard safety features included with the Porsche 718 Cayman are sparse and are limited to parking sensors in the front and at the rear, and a rearview camera. Optional upgrades include blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and Porsche's dynamic light system, which adapts the projection of the optional LED headlights based on the road. For added stopping power, six-piston calipers at the front and four-piston calipers at the back can be specced to bite down on ceramic composite brake discs.
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.
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.
Three models are available in the 718 range: the 718 Cayman, the 718 Cayman S, and the 718 Cayman GTS. The GT4 is a hardcore model that is reviewed separately, while Boxsters, the convertible version of the 718, are also addressed in their own review.
The base 718 is fitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer engine that produces 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. You can recognize this model by its 18-inch wheels and singular exhaust tailpiece. Standard features include a rearview camera, a parking assistant, and park sensors at the front and rear of the car. A six-speed manual is factory-fitted with a seven-speed dual-clutch available.
The 718 S uses a bigger 2.5-liter turbo boxer that makes 350 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque. This variant can be identified by its 19-inch wheels and the twin pipes exiting at the rear of the car, as well as its red brake calipers. Inside, sports pedals are also added.
The range-topper is the GTS model, which features black accents, 20-inch wheels, and plenty of Alcantara inside. The Sport Chrono package is also standard on this model, adding a dash-mounted lap-timer, additional drive modes, and, in PDK-equipped models, launch control.
The Sport Chrono package is all but a must for Porsche owners, adding an analog and digital timepiece as well as a lap timer in one neat device atop the center of the dash. This package also moves the switch for selectable drive modes from the center console to the steering wheel, while also adding modes. One of these, only available with the PDK gearbox, also allows the car's computer to engage launch control for blistering starts. The package isn't cheap though, costing $2,090. Premium Package Plus is also worth a look but must be ordered in conjunction with adaptive 18-way sport seats. This package costs $3,180 and adds Porsche dynamic headlights, a rain sensor and auto-dimming wing mirrors, dual-zone climate control, and heated and ventilated seats.
Being a Porsche, there are numerous options and accessories one can equip, bringing the exterior paint into the cabin, decking any and every surface in leather and/or Alcantara, and adding heating, ventilation, and numerous means of power adjustment to the seats. Keep it simple, though, and not only will you save a load of money, but you won't look like somebody who's trying too hard.
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.
Check out some informative Porsche 718 Cayman video reviews below.