Porsche 718 Cayman review – The entry-level Porsche punches above its weight - Porsche 718 Cayman engine and gearbox

Whether it's the base Cayman or the GTS, the 718's fine handling outshines its disappointing engine

Evo rating
Price
from £42,897
  • Beautifully balanced chassis and well considered ergonomics
  • Coarse, lumpy engine, made even worse by the memory of its predecessor

We might, eventually, stop mourning the loss of the Cayman’s old flat-six engine but the replacement turbocharged four-cylinder found in the 718 isn’t going to help us forget about the wailing, revvy unit that made Porsche’s entry-level cars feel anything but.

If you expect the 718’s engine to be in the same vein as the latest 911 Carrera’s turbocharged unit then you’ll be sorely disappointed. Rather than being subtly aided by the turbos, the 2- and 2.5- litre motor is unashamedly boosted, but this has helped the engines put out some impressive figures. The 2-litre of the Cayman produces 296bhp, while the 2.5-litre makes 345bhp in the S and 360bhp in the GTS at the same revs. The peak power for each car comes in at 6500rpm.

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The biggest advantage of the new engines is the usable torque they both produce. The standard Cayman makes 280lb ft from 1950 to 4500rpm and the S 310lb ft from 1900 to 4500rpm. The GTS only betters the S in terms of torque when equipped with a PDK gearbox, then it has an extra 7lb ft.

The 718 Cayman S and GTS develops the same amount of torque as the sublime, evo Car of the year-winning Cayman GT4, but the GT4 didn’t reach its peak figure until the engine was spinning at 4750rpm.

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This abundance of torque helps the 718 overcome the one chink in the old Cayman’s otherwise blemish free armour, its long gearing. The 3.4-litre engine in the old Cayman S only managed 273lb ft at a lofty 4500rpm and so the tall ratios often made it feel a bit gutless in slower corners, or when the engine wasn’t quite on-song. Also, as the motor itself was willing to spin at higher revs, gearchanges often weren’t required until you reached quite ludicrous speeds.

For the torque-rich turbo engines, the lack of low-down muscle isn’t a problem. However, there is now less need to change gear as the engine feels punchy even in the higher ratios. If you’ve opted for the manual gearbox then that’s a shame, as the close gate and snickety action of the lever is incredibly satisfying and longs to be used.

Porsche’s PDK gearbox, a £1922 option, is one of the best dual-clutch transmissions you can buy. It reacts relatively intuitively left to its own devices, while changes are quick, crisp and aren’t accompanied by an unnecessary wave of torque or an uncomfortable jolt.

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Although we’ve been impressed by Porsche’s PDK gearbox, and it has proved that it’s the quicker transmission, we still prefer the standard manual. There’s a sense of connection with the car that heel and toeing, selecting your gears and feeding in the clutch exactly how and when you want creates that the efficient PDK doesn’t grant you.

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