When one thinks about sports cars, it a certainty that the Porsche 911 will be at the top of the thoughts of most people around the world. It's because the 911 pretty much defines what an ideal sports car should be like and is one of the most iconic sports cars of all times. That said, the 911 is not a car that's easy to buy and also needs more than average driving skills. The most inexpensive Porsche sports car then in India is the 718 Cayman. Now just because it's the lowest-priced Porsche car, it doesn't compromise on the traits one expects from a Porsche. It's a proper sports car, it goes fast, sounds nice, feels comfortable and in the end is a true Porsche! We spent a day recently with the Porsche 718 Cayman and here's why we were smitten by this little Porsche.
A proper Porsche to the eyes
The Porsche 718 Cayman despite being in its third-generation maintains the trademark Porsche silhouette. A sloping roofline and pronounced wheel arches give it a proper Porsche look from every angle. The sloping hood along with LED headlamps and a low-set grille give it the look that Porsche has had since almost everyone reading this article was alive. The tapering roofline, pronounced side air intakes and short overhangs are again elements that make the 718 Cayman an absolute visual delight.
Some might argue that there isn't much of a design change in this model compared to the one before this or the one before that or the ones even earlier. Well, that's right and precisely the reason what makes Porsche sport cars so special. Very few carmakers across the world today can boast of timeless design like Porsche can!
How good to drive? Amazing we'd say!
The powertrain is the biggest change in the new 718 Cayman as the present model ditches the flat-six engine in favour of a four-cylinder turbocharged (of course!) unit that displaces just 2 litres! Just a 2-litre engine in a Porsche sports car! How can that be fun, you'd be asking right now but this is where Porsche's engineering prowess comes in to play. Making use of turbocharging, a powerful injection system and optimised friction and combustion, the engine produces 300 hp and 380 Nm of torque, both figures being higher than the older and larger motor.
Our test car came equipped with Porsche's dual-clutch PDK automatic transmission, which meant shifts were lightning fast. The motor itself starts with a moderately loud roar, settling into a pleasing burble. Off the line, the engine's turbo lag is minimal and masked well by the gearbox too but try getting off to a blistering start and a moment's lag is noticeable. Thereon, it's all uphill as the engine revs cleanly to about 7,000 rpm, which is the best point to shift if you're using pedals.
I haven't experienced the old flat-six motor so can't comment on its sound but I can tell you that the four-cylinder motor is an aural treat. Once the Sports mode is active, the optional sports exhaust system is also activated, which creates bliss for an enthusiast. The motor doesn't sound angry but it does sound purposeful and makes enough impact to make it clear that this car was made to have fun.
We did our 0-100 kmph run in a respectable 4.9 seconds, measured on a handheld GPS device. Acceleration through the gears is brisk and makes mashing the throttle genuinely fun as long as the tacho needle stays above 2,200 rpm. Since we had the car only for a few hours, fuel-efficiency isn't among the data we recorded but I can tell you confidently that despite a more than generous use of the throttle and frequent redlining the fuel gauge needle moved way slower than my expectations. System indicated best figure was 10.1 kmpl and the lowest we achieved was 3.6 kmpl.
Cabin experience – Sporty, comfortable or both?
Step inside the Porsche 718 Cayman and there are sporty-looking seats finished in Black and Red leather to help you rest your bottom. The seats offer excellent all-round support, which comes in handy when pushing the machine around corners. Black is the colour that dominates the cabin but intelligently placed metal accents break the monotony and make the cabin look premium. That said, the cabin doesn't feel as special as the car looks on the outside or as special as one would expect a Porsche to be. The colour touchscreen is easy to use and has a decent visual presence. The button layout on the centre-console too is nice but doesn't stand out on any parameter except for the fact that everything is very easy to find without having to look down. The colour instrument cluster offers a digital-analogue combination, which is the best visual piece for me inside the cabin. In line with the theme of a proper sports car, the tachometer takes centre stage with a small digital speedometer. This unit is flanked by an analogue speedo with a digital odometer on the left and the multi-information display on the right. The steering wheel offers phone, volume and radio control at the front and paddle-shifters and cruise control lever at the back.
In case you want to go for a weekend, the Cayman's boot, both at the front and the rear might prove to be constrained. The car is made purely for driving pleasure and that, it delivers in bucket loads. But hey, who buys a Porsche Cayman for luxury features and comfort?!
While the engine and gearbox on the 718 Cayman prove to be worthy of carrying the Porsche heritage, it was time to test how this little car can dance around corners. I started off with some long corners, where the 718 Cayman felt like it was getting bored taking these turns at triple-digit speeds. I took the car through a series of sharp turns next and not much changed. The 718 Cayman seems to have claws that dig into the surface and the electronics further enhance its handling. The mid-engine layout of the car also helps handling immensely and this layout also eliminates the downsides of a perceivably nose-heavy or a tail-happy car.
There's a particular turn near Noida that I've driven through in cars more powerful and expensive than the 718 Cayman. However, I clocked one of my fastest speeds through this turn in this car. The Porsche 718 Cayman is clearly a baby version of the big Daddy 911 and it doesn't falter on any of the steps it tries to follow.
The steering too provides excellent feedback and it's easy to decipher what's happening with the front wheels and that just makes it a bit more easy to push beyond your comfort envelope.
The Porsche 718 Cayman turned out to be a proper Porsche sports car with very few compromises. Yes, there's a bit of turbo-lag initially and the interior doesn't feel special but that isn't the point of buying a nimble Porsche two-door sports car. If I wanted to buy this car (might never be able to afford one!) I would want a quick motor that sounds good, brilliant handling and a design that looks just like a Porsche! The 718 Cayman delivers well on these parameters and has more in store to be explored.
I did end up having some great time in the few hours that I drove the Porsche 718 Cayman and that's precisely the point of this car. The Porsche 718 Cayman is priced at Rs 85.95 lakh, ex-showroom, India and for this money the car makes for a great buying decision.
Pictures: Ronak Shah