I experienced the first Porsche Cayman S (a 2006 model) at the international launch in Sienna, Italy following its unveiling at the 2005 Frankfurt International Auto Show. This represented the reversal of a longtime Porsche policy by introducing the Cayman in their upscale S trim. The introduction of the lower-powered base level trim Cayman was delayed until the 2007 lineup. Now, the 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S heralds the return of the 718 era.
The Cayman name is for a species of alligator (properly spelled Caiman) found in Latin America rather than for the Caribbean islands, popular for hidden corporate bank accounts.
My initial take on the Cayman S, since I’m an open car fan, was that it would be better as a roadster or convertible. It actually resembles a hatchback coupe version of the midengine Porsche Boxster. In fact, the Cayman was developed in conjunction with the Type 987 Boxster that went on sale as a 2005 model. The focus of the Cayman was to provide a lower cost alternative that fell in between the Porsche Boxster and the 997-series 911 Carrera that was introduced as a 2005 model.
The Cayman’s purpose was to top the Boxster as a “Driver’s Car” without surpassing the 911 in terms of both speed and status. It essentially falls into a “niche” category that is impressive in its own right. Porsche points out that the Cayman shares roughly 40 percent of its componentry with the 997 Boxsters, which in turn shares some55 percent of their parts with the 997 Carrera.
For power, Porsche is reintroducing the mid-engine flat four turbocharged engine continuing the 718 legacy with the new 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman in two versions of each iconic sports car. Both 718 vehicles will come in a base model or “S” model.
Base model Porsche 718 models will be powered by a newly developed, single turbocharged flat four-cylinder engine with Gasoline Direct Injection and featuring Vario PlusCam. The 718 Porsche Cayman draws it motive force from a 2.0-liter version that produces 300 horsepower at 6,500 rpm while generating 280 pound feet of torque in a range from 1,950-4,500 rpm newly developed, single turbocharged flat four-cylinder engine cylinder with Gasoline Direct Injection and featuring Vario PlusCam. The Cayman’s boost is19psi (1.3 bar). The 718 Porsche Cayman S is propelled by a 2.5-liter version of the same basic engine with Gasoline Direct Injection and Variable Turbine geometry (VTG). Boost is 16 psi (1.1 bar) that delivers an additional 50 horses (350) at 6,500 rpm while developing 309 pound feet of torque from 1,900-4,500 rpm.
Porsche is the only manufacturer to utilize VTG technology in gasoline-fueled production models – in the 911 Turbo, the 718 Cayman S and the 718 Boxster S. These new engines develop 35 more horsepower over those of the previous engines.
Both Porsche 718 Caymans are mid-engine in a rear wheel drive configuration with motive energy metered through either a standard 6-speed manual gearbox with a single disc clutch and dual mass flywheel, or an optional 7-speed Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
The new exhaust systems were developed to ensure the delivery of passionate, Porsche-typical sound. Exhaust gases from the four cylinders are merged just before the turbocharger, which is mounted to the engine directly behind the driver’s seat. The single exhaust tract runs past the engine, then branching into two pipes ahead of the transmission, which then run past the transmission to the two rear mufflers.
In the Porsche 718 Cayman, the exhaust gases flow through a system with a central single oval tailpipe made of brushed stainless steel, while the 718 Cayman S comes with round twin tailpipes made of brushed stainless steel. Two central round sport tailpipes available in chrome or black highlight the optional Sport Exhaust System with an exhaust flap, which is available for all models. The exhaust flap is activated by a button on the center console. The flap opens automatically at an engine speed of approximately 3,500 rpm or more, delivering a heartwarming deep and sonorous sound.
Even though the Porsche 718 Cayman and Cayman S feature new styling features, both are immediately recognizable as Porsches. The Porsche Cayman coupe is much like the Porsche Boxster roadster beneath the windows. Both use a 95.1-inch wheelbase and spread 70.9 inches wide. The coupe, though, is roughly a half-inch taller and longer than the roadster at 54.1 and 172.1 inches, The front end has been resculpted and delivers a wider, more athletic look.
Porsche Caymans get their own front fascia featuring cooling air intakes that are significantly larger with a larger central air slot and outboard intakes fronted by a body-color horizontal bar carrying a round foglamp as opposed to the Boxster’s oblong shape.) serving as a visual representation of the new turbocharged engine generation. The Bi-Xenon headlights have been redesigned sporting two integrated LED daytime running lights, and are now fitted as standard fare. There are two available headlight options, including a Bi-Xenon headlight with an LED high beam plus and a daytime running light module with 4 LEDs, while a more upscale offering comes as full LED headlights with four-point daytime running lights.
In profile, defining features of the new 718s include new, independently styled fenders and side skirts. Larger air intakes with dual vanes emphasize the car’s dynamicism. The Cayman displays a body side crease line above the sills that kicks up at the rear-fender intakes, which have vertical instead of the Boxster’s horizontal strakes, and are shaped to match the angle of the roof’s fixed rear-quarter windows. And the Cayman’s rear haunches are subtly raised to blend with the new roofline that rakishly slopes down from a “peak” over the two seats.
Doors no longer have door handle recess covers. New 19-inch wheels are standard on the 718 Cayman S, with 20-inch alloy wheels optionally available.
In the rear, the restyled fascia of the 718 Cayman models places a focused emphasis on width, with the strip and its integrated Porsche badge placed between the taillights, which stand out with their three-dimensional LED technology and four-point brake lights. Along with Taillights are common, but the Porsche Cayman has a specific rear fascia and an exclusive two-piece rear spoiler. As on the Boxster, the wing automatically rises above 75 mph to stand about 3.5 inches tall; it powers down when speed falls below 50 mph.
The cabin repeats the consistent emphasis of horizontal lines prevalent on the exterior, and is characterized by a higher quality and functionality typical for Porsche. The impressive leather trim features stitching that continues to the storage compartment. With its elevated air vents, the redesigned upper part of the dash panel reflects the three-dimensional exterior design. The lid of the center console has been raised slightly when compared to the previous model providing more comfort. A sport steering wheel in the design of the 918 Spyder measuring 14.8 inches) in diameter is standard. A 14.1 inch GT Sport steering wheel is optionally available.. Porsche offers multifunction and steering wheel heating as options for all steering wheel versions.
A central element of the new interior layout is the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) unit, which consists of a high-resolution, 7-inch color touchscreen with a high quality glass cover, proximity sensors and multi-touch gesture control. It also includes mobile phone preparation, 2 SD card readers with single CD/DVD drive, universal audio interface with an 11 GB jukebox and the 110 watt Sound Package Plus. Sound systems from Bose and Burmeister are optionally available.
A navigation module with voice control which makes it easy to input driving destinations is available as an alternative. The navigation module has an improved map display that can show maps two-dimensionally or in perspective. 3D representations are also possible in select regions. The Connect Plus module is available as an extension of the navigation module, enabling simple interfacing of a smartphone to the PCM, wireless Internet access for WiFi devices as well as using online functions such as information navigation services, featuring an LTE telephone module.
The suspension has been completely retuned, improving cornering performance, while the electric steering system, which is adopted from the 911 Turbo results in a ratio that is ten percent more direct and on center than before, which not only enhances agility and precision, but also improves maneuverability in challenging roads and track scenarios as well as in normal traffic. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with a 0.43 inch (10 millimeter) lower ride height is optionally available on both 718 models. The 718 Cayman S may be ordered with the PASM sport chassis featuring a 0.86 inch (20 millimeter) lower ride height, offering a significantly stiffer setting in Sport mode. Utilizing variable torque distribution and a mechanical differential lock at the rear axle, the optional Porsche Torque Vectoring system improves turn-in and traction when entering or exiting a corner.
The 718 Cayman now utilizes the brake system previously used in the Cayman S, with front brake rotors measuring 13 inches (330 millimeters), representing a 0.6 inch increase compared to the previous model. The 718 Cayman S features the new four-piston calipers and thicker brake rotors (34 millimeters instead of 28 millimeters) of the 2017 911 Carrera on the front axle. The Porsche Ceramic Composite brake system (PCCB) with rotors measuring 13.8 inches (350 millimeters) at all four wheels is available as an option. The 718 Cayman models also come standard with the multi-collision braking system.
Porsche’s Stability Management system offers a separate mode known as PSM Sport that is activated by briefly pushing the PSM button on the center console when equipped with the optional Sport Chrono Package. PSM Sport differs significantly from the PSM On setting, and is now activated independently of the Driving Mode (Normal/Sport/Sport Plus). When the PSM Sport mode is activated, an indicator in the instrument cluster and the yellow “PSM Off” lamp are lit to inform the driver. The new PSM Sport mode allows drivers to approach the vehicle’s limits more closely on enclosed tracks. Compared to PSM On, the new mode permits considerably larger yaw angles as well as more wheelspin and enables the driver to experience the sports car’s more intense dynamic performance.
My 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S wore an exterior finish of Agate Grey metallic complemented by a Red interior. It was equipped with the 6-speed manual gearbox. The base price was set at $66,300., while the as tested price came to
SUMMARY: To non-Porsche-philes, the latest iteration Porsche 718 Cayman and Cayman S for 2017 may appear to be Porsche 911s. Obviously it’s not, more closely resembling a coupe version of the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster and Boxster S.
The 718 Cayman and Cayman S are entry-level Porsche coupes with a unique, aerodynamic rear hatch. Entry level is a relative issue, depending upon one’s financial standing. Yes, it’s possible to obtain a new base (entry level) Chevrolet Corvette for the same money or even a little less, determined by features and equipment options, but a Porsche is a Porsche and a Corvette is a Corvette. Both are fun to drive, but when it comes to sophistication and finesse, the Porsche is a clear winner.
718 Cayman models are obviously not on the same level as the Porsche 911 Carrera in terms of overall performance in any of its forms, but the Caymans deliver essentially all the performance that mere mortals can handle. Hell, even accomplished professionals are certain to praise its potential.
During the National press launch, I was able to experience seat time in a 718 Boxster with the PDK transmission, and a 718 Cayman S with the 6-speed manual gearbox. S models in both body styles provide exhilarating acceleration and braking prowess along with superb handling characteristics and ride stability. But, so do the non-S versions – just not quite as much. There is a badge delete option that eliminates the visible model designation if stealth and deception are your thing.
The PDK transmission is much more efficient and considerably quicker in either fully automatic mode or paddle shifting than attempting to change gears manually via the six-speed. Let’s hear it for turbocharging – a giant step ahead for the new 2017 entry level 718 Porsches.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S
Base Price: $66,300.
Price as Tested: $87,395.
Engine Type and Size: 2.5-liter with single turbocharged flat four-cylinder with Gasoline Direct Injection VTG 16 psi (1.1 bar)- Boxster S
Horsepower (bhp): 350 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 309 @ 1,900-4,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual gearbox with single disc clutch and dual-mass flywheel.
Drive Train: Mid engine / Rear-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front – Lightweight spring-strut – MacPherson type.
Rear – Lightweight MacPherson strut.
Brakes: Four-wheel discs vented and perforated front and rear with four-piston aluminum monoblack fixed calipers front and rear, with ABS, Porsche Stability Management (PSM) and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with extended brake functions.
Tires: Pirelli P-Zero 235/55 ZR20 x 8.5 front / 265/55 ZR20 x 10.5” rear mounted on 5-“V”-spoke alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 97.4 inches
Length Overall: 172.4 inches
Width: 78.5 inches
Height: 50.4 inches with mirrors
Curb Weight: 2,944 lbs.
Turning Circle: 36.0 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 16.9 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 20 mpg city / 26 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.31
0 – 60 mph: 4.2 seconds – 4.0 seconds w/ Sport Chrono – Top track speed=177 mph
• Styling – 5 Stars
• Performance – 5 Stars
• Ride and Handling – 5 Stars
• Utility – 4.5 Stars
• Comfort and Convenience – 4.5 Stars
• Economy – 4.5 Stars
• Value and Competition – 5 Stars
SUMMARY – 4.78 Stars
The 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S represents an entry level coupe for the iconic German Sports car manufacturer. It looks great, handles exceptionally well, is comfortable, and is more affordable than the venerable 911. Sadly, it’s not the beast on the track that last year’s Cayman GT4 is.