Porsche 718 Cayman T: Does more toys mean more fun?
Alex Goy is a freelance motoring journalist who has written for the likes of Motor1, Carfection and CNET.
Porsche has given the 718 Boxster and Cayman the ‘T’ treatment. Does that mean it’s more exciting than ever? Let's find out...
1) The ‘T’ stands for ‘touring’
In Porschespeak ‘T’ means ‘touring’, which in real person talk means lower power, more toys, and a closer emphasis on driving experience. Both the Boxster and Cayman T build on the base 718.
That means there’s 300 horses and 280lb ft to play with from a 2.0-litre turbocharged flat four. While they don’t get the power of the 350 horse S model, they get some of its toys. Sport Chrono (with Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual driving modes), Porsche Torque Vectoring, 20mm lower ride height, 20” wheels, cosmetic tweaks, cloth door pulls, a stereo/infotainment (you can spec it back in for free), auto rev matching for the standard manual, and more.
2) It’s quick
Porsche reckons that with all this gear on board (and with the addition of an emissions test friendly petrol particulate filter) the 718 T will do 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds with the standard six speed manual, and 4.7 with a PDK. You’ll best 170mph as well. If you’ve got a long enough runway.
3) The chassis is sweet as they come
It’s hardly a surprise to discover that a Porsche has a decent chassis, is it? But the 718 twins are blessed with an exceptional chassis. It feels taut but not too stiff, so you can enjoy it as ‘a car’ on your commute if you want to, but when you want to hustle it the car feels planted, grippy, and just… brilliant. As a thing to blast around the countryside in there are few that can take down its drive. It’s just wonderful.
4) Stick to the stick
You can have a 718 with a manual or a PDK dual clutch auto. The manual is standard, the PDK… is not. Now, the PDK is a smooth, slick, fast gearbox: one that seems to know exactly what you want when you want it (sometimes even before because I’m pretty sure Porsche’s engineers are legit magicians), and it’s just the ticket for bumbling round town 30 per cent of the time, cruising up and down motorways 40 per cent of the time, and giving ‘er a tickle on a back road the rest of the time.
But if you’re going to spend the majority of your time with the car finding back roads and being irresponsible I’d stick with the manual. It’s a short throw, with a decent notch to it so you know you’ve hit your mark when you find your ratio. It’s not heavy, but not oh-so-feathery-light as you get in, say, a Golf GTI. The clutch is well weighted as well, so your leg won’t get knackered while you’re pootling to the shops.
5) The torque is great, but comes with a caveat
The 718 Cayman T (and the Boxster) comes with a teeny tiny 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that boasts 280lb ft. Ace, right? Especially when you consider Porsche reckons a manual Cayman T tips the scales at 1350kgs. Yes, it IS great. But only if you keep it above, realistically, 2.5-3k rpm.
Anything less than that and the turbo simply isn’t awake. Get caught out and you’ll find yourself begging the car to catch up with itself. Most unseemly for a modern Porsche.
6) Aural Annoyance
Porsche offers all kinds of motors in its cars, it has for years, but when you close your eyes and conjure up the sounds of a Porsche what do you hear? A flat six howling like a banshee? Yeah. Me too.
Switching to a flat four in the 718 should, in theory mean it sounds like a slightly pared back 911 but… it doesn’t. It just sounds awful. Clattery, unpleasant. And that’s without the sports exhaust on.
Prod the noise button and it’s the same unpleasantness but with extra bass. The noise is better in the Boxster than the Cayman, but I’d wager that’s because you can’t hear it as clearly with the roof down.
7) Looks to kill
The 718 Cayman is a VERY pretty car. Smooth curves, sharp lines, haunches for days. It’s a little stunner, really. I’d say the Boxster isn’t quite as smart, but that’s entirely subjective. Have a look and decide for yourself.
8) Flawed brilliance
Bar the new Alpine A110 there isn’t a realistic mid-engined sportscar proposition out there (Lotus fans – don’t start) to easily daily. The 718 Boxster and Cayman are comfy, quick, and exciting to drive, but come with flaws.
If you can get your head around the turbo lag, and you can put up with the noise falling out of the motor behind your head you’ll love it. But that’s a lot of 'ifs' and 'buts' for a Porsche, right?