Yes, some are actually saying this!
There was an interesting comment on the launch video for the Porsche 718 Cayman. It was posted by a YouTuber with the username dhns555 and read, “Hello Subaru for rich people.” Others said the new 718 Cayman sounded like a Subaru. Although these are just two comments from random people online it got us thinking. Do people really think the 718 Cayman is just a more expensive Subaru? There can’t be many who think this, but even one person is too many.
The 718 Cayman is a new car in many, many ways. There’s of course the name, but just about everything else is also new. The body panels, the tires, the redesigned chassis, a new interior, new taillights—you get the idea. Of course the most controversial new addition sits under the hood. The base Cayman sports a turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer engine that puts out 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. The Cayman S gets a 2.5-liter unit making 350 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque. This is where the first legitimate Subaru similarity shows up. The Japanese automaker is known for its turbocharged boxer engines and it does indeed offer units with the same displacement as the Cayman and Cayman S.
The 2.0-liter unit in the Subaru WRX, WRX Premium and WRX Limited makes 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The STI's 2.5-liter unit bumps that up to 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft. While these two engines are the same size they produce immensely different power figures. What’s more is that they sit in two completely different cars. One is a two-door, RWD sports car and the other is a four-door rally sedan with AWD. But Subaru does have a two-door, RWD sports car in its lineup. Could the BRZ really be a cheaper viable alternative to the 718 Cayman? Both have boxer engines, although the BRZ's is naturally aspirated and a lot less powerful at 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. Power is down, but what if a turbo was added?
Adding 20-40 horsepower via a turbo and some engine tinkering doesn't seem too hard to do. But would that be enough to match the base Cayman's 4.5-second 0-60 mph time and 170 mph top speed? Now despite being down on power the BRZ does have a weight advantage over the 718 Cayman. With a six-speed manual and two rear seats the Subaru has a curb weight of 2,762 pounds. The 718 Cayman with a manual and no extra seats weighs in at 2,944 pounds. The Subaru also wins when it comes to affordability (obviously). You could buy two BRZs for the price of one Cayman. So is the BRZ really a poor man's Porsche? No. It's a fun sports car but the two are in a completely different league in terms of tech, amenities and design.
Of course the idea that the Porsche is just a more expensive Subaru stems from the fact that the flat-six engine was dropped in favor of a turbocharged boxer-four. One engine belongs in pricey and historically significant sports cars with rabid followings. The other belongs in, well, Subarus. This seems to be a complaint driven more by emotion than anything else. The smaller engine in the new 718 Cayman is more powerful than the outgoing flat-six, with an additional 25 horsepower bump for each option. The one issue to concede, however, is that Porsche fans are now being asked to pay more money for two fewer cylinders and a turbo they didn’t want/don’t think they need.
The Cayman and Boxster have flip-flopped prices—the convertible used to be cheaper than the hardtop—and that along with all the new goodies in the Cayman has raised its price. The base version starts at $53,900 and the S trim checks in at $66,300. The current Cayman retails for $52,600 base and $64,100 in S guise. Yes, you are paying more for a smaller engine but remember it’s more powerful. But what about the sound?! Well it’s definitely different but it’s not the same as the WRX STI! At the end of the day all that matters is how the Cayman performs on the road. And yes, a turbo will affect that. But until reviews start coming in don't penalize Porsche for taking a page out of the Subaru playbook.
And just in case you were wondering, here's that video with the "rich people Subaru" comment. Take a listen to the 718 Cayman and decide for yourself if this is really just a Subaru in a tux with a German accent.