Porsche 718 Cayman — how does a flat-four fare?

Porsche 718 Cayman now comes in smaller capacities of 2.0 litre and 2.5 litre, boosted by turbochargers. — Pictures by YS KhongPorsche 718 Cayman now comes in smaller capacities of 2.0 litre and 2.5 litre, boosted by turbochargers. — Pictures by YS KhongKUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — When I wrote the piece on introduction of the 718 Boxster, I also knew that the range would extend to the Cayman — the good news was that the new engines, with smaller capacities of 2.0 litre and 2.5 litre, but boosted by turbochargers, would mean lower road tax payments for Malaysian users, but I also knew that the horizontally opposed flat six engine would be replaced by horizontally opposed flat fours, and like most purists, I acknowledge the fact that the turbos more than compensate for the power, but how would they sound?

The above were my thoughts as I made my way to the Porsche Centre in Glenmarie to collect my Cayman for the day test. The collection was smooth enough, thanks to the great PR staff at Porsche. The arrangement was simple — collect at 10.00 am, then return the car by evening — you are free to go anywhere or do anything with it as long as you bring it back, in one piece. I got the Cayman 2.0 this time.

Given the short time, I thought that it would be a good thing to bring the Cayman down to Port Dickson through one of my favourite routes via the Sepang and Tanah Merah B-roads which has an excellent mixture of roads.

The sporty interior has many subtle changes.The sporty interior has many subtle changes.From the onset, there are no worries about the power output — the two litre horizontally opposed flat four has a more than decent output of 300 horsepower, and makes 380 Nm of torque, which is 100Nm more than its predecessor. There is more than enough power to make this a really fun car to drive, and true to the characteristics of a turbo charged engine, the torque is delivered in full from as low as 1,950rpm through to 4,500rpm — for 80 per cent of the people who want to buy the Cayman, the 2.0 litre is enough. With a turbo-charged engine, you will not need to rev the engine up so high as with a naturally aspirated engine. Of course there will be those who will pay more for the Cayman S, which is more powerful, but believe me, you probably don’t need it.

The mid-engine, rear-wheel drive combination is the key ingredient behind the sure-footed handling of the Cayman, and the new 718 does not disappoint — of course we have to add the fact that the Porsche engineers would have put many hours of testing and tuning to the suspension to perfect the ride and handling. Basically the suspension has not changed much in terms of construction from the previous generation Cayman, and although the marketing blurps talk about how this car is ‘inspired’ by the 718 roadster of yesteryear, I do suspect that all this is to put a ‘chocolate’ coating on the move to the four cylinder power plants.

The reverse camera is a good feature to have.The reverse camera is a good feature to have.Anyway, through the winding roads from Sepang to Lukut, my rally playground of the 1980’s, the Cayman was really fun to drive. I didn’t take it to the limit, this area being a public road and all, but I did ‘push’ it a little hard, and not once did the Cayman falter. The Good Year Eagle F1 Asymmetric tyre with staggered widths of 235 for the front and 265’s for the rear on 20 inch wheels did their part of course. Massive multi-port brakes with cross-drilled discs helped with the braking too. You really don’t need to do much if you just take it as is.

For the record, the Cayman is capable of zero to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and can hit a maximum of 275 km/h — I didn’t put this to the test, but I am sure it is capable of doing just that. I will have to admit that I was nowhere the NEDC fuel consumption of 6.9 l per 100km. My fuel consumption was 12.0 litres per 100km, but I must say that this is actually a very decent figure, considering that I was driving the car quite hard.

The passenger gets adjustable electric seat controls as well.The passenger gets adjustable electric seat controls as well.Inside, the Cayman remains a strict two-seater and it is much the same stuff you will find in the Boxster, except that the Cayman is a hardtop unlike the Boxster which is a convertible. As mentioned before, the 718 Cayman and Boxster share the same chassis and drive trains. Subtle changes in instrumentation and small layout changes make the interior more attractive and more user-friendly — I would volunteer that the Cayman has evolved rather than changed over the years.  The result is a very nice package that handles very well.

Now for the sound — those in the know would be familiar with what a horizontally-opposed flat four would sound like — the apple never falls far from the tree — I kept on thinking of a Subaru WRX, albeit a muted one. Some would like it, and some won’t — the ‘purist’ Porsche owners might have something to say about it, but I have no issues. In fact, it would sound quite cool with less silencing.

Would I like one? But of course, although I probably would have to wait a few years for someone to get tired of his or hers before I can afford it, and I probably would want the Cayman S. Prices start from RM530k.

12.0 litre per 100km consumption is quite decent for the Cayman.12.0 litre per 100km consumption is quite decent for the Cayman.