Five years ago, I drove my first ever Porsche, a Cayman. Not a special Cayman, an entry level, poverty spec, run of the mill 2.7 litre Cayman. 275 bhp and 290 Nm of torque. 0-62 in 5.7 seconds.
Over the next week, my mind was blown. Simply put, the Porsche Cayman was THE best car I had ever driven.
Out of all the super exotics, the ridiculously expensive and ludicrously quick this humble Cayman bested them all. Why?
One word: Balance.
Never had I experience a car that meshed power, handling and grip with such superiority. All those factors worked with each other, playing to the same tune, in sync to the nth degree.
275 BHP is a healthy amount of power by today’s standards, but not Earth shattering. After all hot hatches are in that ballpark and could certainly trouble this entry-level Cayman to the 62 sprint.
But it’s not about that, it’s how this amount of power works in harmony with the rest of the car.
It’s not more power than the grip on the tyres can handle, so you aren’t worried about being span into a hedgerow if you give the right pedal a poke mid-corner. It won’t light up the wheels and engage traction control when you want to expedite your getaway from the lights. It won’t propel you to license losing speeds in the blink of an eye. But it’s enough, more than enough in fact to have serious amounts of fun with.
Back then I said the Cayman is a scalpel, so precise in its nature compared to anything else on the road. That still holds true with the 718 Cayman GTS.
What would two fewer cylinders and turbocharging bring? Had Porsche ruined the purest car I’d even piloted? Falling into the driver’s seat of the GTS for the first time, I hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed.
The first 500 yards proved to be as expected. A super-sensitive clutch and hyper-alert throttle took a minute or two getting used to compared to the lackadaisical hatchback I’d just come out of. Precision from the start.
Heading out onto the motorway I flicked the GTS into Sport and floored it in third gear. There’s no lack of power here. 335 BHP in total and all produced from a 2.5 litre flat four boosted via a turbo, that means there’s a whacking great improvement in torque, one that only a turbo can bring.
420 Nm means the 718 Cayman GTS feels peppy and alive, with the 0-62 time coming in at 4.6 seconds, the only slight issue is that lower revs feel a little…flat. There’s a small portion of the range just before everything explodes with fury that you’re waiting for it to happen, it’s nanoseconds, but it’s perceptible if you’re paying attention.
Thankfully this GTS was a manual, which means far more driver engagement. In Sport or Sport+ the Cayman will blip the throttle on the downshift making you sound like an absolute hero to the outside world, leave it in ‘normal’, and there’s no rev matching – for when you fancy being old school on the pedals. You can also select various functions and save them under the ‘individual’ mode.
What’s stayed the same though is the way the Cayman handles. From driving the 2.7 all those years ago I thought that was the perfect amount of power, but you can actually pour in another 60 horses, and nothing changes, the rear wheels don’t become corrupted, and equilibrium remains throughout.
And the grip this thing manages is something else, it hangs on in corners at speeds you wouldn’t even dare approach in a hot hatch. The Pirelli PZeros unwavering beneath you, not so much as a murmur comes from them as you balance the throttle and put your faith in the rubber.
It’s nigh on impossible to unstick the GTS, you’d have to get things horrifically wrong or acting a total imbecile to prise the Cayman away from the tarmac. The centred gravity thanks to the mid-engine give it perfect poise, it stays flat no matter how you treat it. Go deep into the brakes, and there’s no pitch, correct mid-corner, and there’s no yaw. The things just flat and level all the time.
In fact, yeah let’s say it: I’d have this over a 911 any day.
And I’ve driven plenty. While there’s globs more power in the mid to high-level models, there’s always that slight sense of pendulumic weight sitting right at the back. You especially notice it if you’ve ever done some sort of driver tuition in a Porsche. You don’t get that with a Cayman, and the only way you can seem to quell it in a 911 is if you go to ridiculous levels of performance as seen in GT models.
A 911 also feels bigger, it’s still precise, but it doesn’t have that light on its feet feel, it’s also wider making it less threadable between traffic.
When anyone asks me what the best car I’ve ever driven is I say the Porsche Cayman, all because of a week with one way back in 2014. In terms of all-round poise and road going, daily, usability it simply can’t be beaten, five years on and it remains the same.
The Porsche Cayman is simply the pinnacle of modern-day sportscar engineering, no matter the number of cylinders.