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Porsche 718 Cayman
The Top Gear car review:Porsche 718 Cayman
What is it like on the road?
Like we say, this used to be a simple affair that involved praising every facet of the Cayman’s makeup before being trolled online by people who presume Porsche leaves every journalist a glovebox full of cash when they drop off the car. It was achingly close to perfection, hamstrung only by its stingy standard equipment list and loooong gearing that made finding its ear-pleasing redline a naughtier activity than it ought to have been.
If we’re talking handling, it’s still as superb as ever. Perhaps a touch better, given a turbocharged engine provides more low-down torque, thus allowing you to bring the rear axle to life at saner speeds and therefore enjoy the fine work of Porsche’s talented chassis engineers more frequently.
Every control is just so, Porsche doing things with electronic steering setups that shouldn’t be possible and providing brake pedals you can use with similarly millimetric precision to those in actual racecars. Until the Alpine A110 arrived in 2018, there was no sports car as athletic or dexterous available for £50k. At least not with a roof, storage space and proper liveability, too.
But we have to discuss the engine. If you’ve not been lucky enough to experience any of the 718’s ancestors, you might not feel too disheartened by its downsizing. But if you have, you’ll know all about the scalpel-sharp response and arm-hair-prickling noise that’s now absent.
The engine is functionally good: low-rev vigour livens the Cayman up nicely, and regardless of which one you buy, it’s flipping quick. If someone stuck an S badge on the base car you’d likely not guess. But the flat-four can’t help but feel like a mere component rather than central to the whole experience, which the old 6cyl did. Put it this way: the Sports Exhaust used to be an essential option, but if you spec one on your 718 you’ll likely try it once then leave it disengaged the rest of the time. Save the cash for something else.
Spending six months with a base 718 Cayman did show us that you get used to its noise in time, and circa-30mpg fuel economy represents a small improvement, but we’d be surprised if you ever learned to love the flat-four. Still, that’s where the mighty 718 Cayman GT4 steps in. Proper engine, proper noise, and tangible extra focus and precision if you find yourself on plentiful trackdays. Just a shame it’s plentiful money, too, at £75,000 before some key options. That’s arguably a bargain price tag for a bona fide supercar-slayer, though.
All told? The Cayman is still just about the best car in the class to drive. That pesky A110 arrived just as the Cayman (with its flat-four) exposed its first major weakness, though, so all of a sudden we have a tie at the top of the table. Choose the Porsche and it’s doubtful you’ll regret it, but we can’t help but suggest a test drive in a used, previous-gen Cayman GTS (they’re similar money to brand-new 718s) before signing the papers.