It’s long been the sweet-spot in Porsche’s model line-up, but has turbocharging affected the Cayman’s appeal?
The banging sound you hear is one more nail being hammered into the coffin of natural aspiration. In line with most of the rest of the automotive industry, Porsche is downsizing and turbocharging its engines, and hot on the heels of the 911 and Boxster, the Cayman is the latest model in Porsche’s line-up to junk an atmospheric motor for a blown one. The 718 Cayman S uses the same four-cylinder, singleturbo unit that powers the recent 718 Boxster S, replacing the free-revving flat-six that to our simple and regressive minds just didn’t need replacing.
The new engine certainly hasn’t ruined the Boxster S, but when we sampled it we reckoned enough had been lost from the driving experience that it should be downgraded from a five-star car to a four-and-a-half-star one. We’ve been worried about the new Cayman ever since.
The 2.5-litre flat-four develops 345bhp and 310lb ft of torque, which means the latest Cayman S is faster than ever. Equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox it’ll reach 62mph from a standstill in 4.6 seconds (4.2 seconds using a PDK ‘box and Launch Control) and top out at 177mph, which is a useful tick in the ‘pros’ column for the turbo engine.
The clattery idle? That’s a tick in the ‘cons’ column. Not even the optional sports exhaust can find any music in this engine at a standstill. Instead it emits a rough, industrial note that seems so unnatural coming from the back end of a Porsche. Throughout its rev range the engine is rather tuneless, just as it is in the Boxster, but the Cayman’s solid roof seems to isolate the cabin from the din more effectively. Soundtrack is a more important factor in a drop-top than in a coupe, too, which means the new engine is actually slightly more agreeable in the fixed-roof model.
It isn’t just a matter of soundtrack, though, and there are still good reasons to miss the flat-six. Whereas the old engine was razor-sharp in its response and dramatic in its delivery, this new unit is a good deal less exciting.
Modern four-cylinder turbo engines are increasingly alike in their character and delivery, but this one does at least feel quite distinctive. It needs 2800rpm before it does anything at all – most get going around the 2000rpm mark – but what it loses in low-down response it wins back In the upper reaches.
“Porsche has made a priority of energy at high engine speeds over low-down response”
At 6000rpm it starts to pull ever harder and it only begins to fade beyond 7000rpm, which gives this engine a relatively vibrant top end. Porsche has made a priority of energy at high engine speeds over low-down response – the two are more or less mutually exclusive unless you have a pair of turbochargers – and for a car like this one that seems like the correct decision.
Engine: Flat-four, 2497cc, turbo
Power: 345bhp @ 6500rpm
Torque: 310lb ft @ 1900-4500rpm
0-62 mph: 4.6sec (claimed)
Top speed: 177mph(claimed)
Weight: 1355kg (259bhp/ton)
Basic price: £48,843