The word “efficiency” doesn’t sound good when paired to a sportscar, especially because it can also mean “compromise” and is synonymous with “the fun is over”. But is it really? Departing from the tradition of naturally aspirated engines in favor of turbocharging for having a better fuel economy and more performance is not always well accepted. Turbos make an engine note sound mute and not very harmonic, yet they convey a broader torque range and more power.
The new Porsche 718 Cayman S 2.5l flat four engine is highly debated, as much as the “manual transmission” in the 991 GT3. It produces 350 hp, 420 Nm of torque, 50 more than the previous generation, thanks to the variable-geometry turbo (VTG) previously only used in the range-topping 911 Turbo and TurboS. It doesn’t sound as sonorous and sweet as the outgoing 3.6 liter flat six, but it doesn’t disappoint very much either. It’s also a popcorn machine, with delightful crackles and pops whenever the throttle is released. I believe it isn’t as boring as it may seem after all.
Regardless of the vocal qualities, the 718 is an engineering Jewel and is a piece of cake to drive. The new flat-four engine is so compact that it allows a better weight distribution, and it comes standard with the “Dynamic Boost” function. Basically, it’s an anti-lag system which always keeps the turbine spinning, even when the driver releases the accelerator pedal. For the joy of purists, manual transmission comes as standard and PDK is offered as an option.
How does it drive? How does it stack up to an Escape? To begin with, it’s a gorgeous car to look at. Its aesthetics didn’t change much from the last generation, so it’s still a pretty lovely object. The Cayman is better looking than the Boxster, especially because it is a more pure line and doesn’t have the folding roof. It is the perfect sportscar for the money, even if when loaded with options, it may become quite expensive and cost as a brand new 991.2 Carrera.
The engine pulls strongly from the bottom to the top without any hesitation and with a constant surge of power. Porsche engineers worked on the exhaust gasses pressure by regulating the turbocharger preload and working on the bypass valve and ignition timing in order to have a better flow of air to obtains a continuous surge of power. This avoids turbo-lag and “tricks” the driver into thinking he’s driving a naturally aspirated engine.
It’s easy to stack up miles in the new 718 Cayman S. Since it has a wonderful chassis balance, is the perfect car for a “cornering hunting” escape in the Dolomites. It’s the most classic, simple and entertaining of all things driving: the Cayman doesn’t command a destination, but rather a trip to nowhere, savoring corner after corner.
Taking advantage of sunny afternoon in Madonna di Campiglio, we took this 718 S in Miami Blue to find some curves and explore the dynamic qualities of this little sportscar.
Yes, it doesn’t sound as good as the flat six did, but it is very involving and it has a very predictable handling. It’s precise and quick and it has loads of traction, even on the slippery pavement.
It’s a joy to drive and it is so fun that the engine note becomes almost secondary. While many lamented that it now had a more humble cylinder number like the previous and unloved 912 and 914, the Cayman is a serious driving tool which doesn’t compromise on any aspect.
Sometimes, playing a different tune of your favorite music is just seeing things from a different angle. The 718 is a completely different melody and it’s not as bad as one would think.
Many thanks to Centro Porsche Brescia for the Car!