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4.6 out of 5 4.6
Parkers overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 4.6

A sublime sports car: Porsche’s cheapest coupe also its purest

Porsche 718 Cayman Coupe Review Video
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At a glance

New price £45,145 - £75,958
Lease from new From £618 per month
Used price £24,695 - £77,035
Fuel Economy 25.7 - 33.2 mpg
Road tax cost £200 - £465
Insurance group 42 - 48 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Great to drive
  • Sharp handling
  • Remarkably practical
  • Build quality

CONS

  • Four-cylinder character shortfall
  • Expensive
  • No rear seats
  • Optional extras quickly add up

Porsche 718 Cayman Coupe rivals

Written by Tim Pollard on

Our Porsche 718 Cayman review assesses the cheapest sports car made by Porsche. Renamed with the addition of the three-digit badge in 2016’s overhaul, the Cayman now undercuts its soft-top sibling, the similarly rebranded 718 Boxster.

The two cars are essentially identical under the skin, but the Germans finally saw sense and followed market convention by pricing the tin-top coupe below the convertible roadster choice from 2016 onwards; previously the Boxster was the cheaper car.

WATCH: Porsche Cayman vs Alpine A110 video

Both models have jettisoned the charismatic flat-six engines in favour of much smaller, turbocharged four-cylinder motors. This is a very simple line-up, with just two models offered at launch: the 718 Cayman with its 2.0-litre flat-four and the 718 Cayman S with a larger 2.5-litre version of the horizontally opposed engine.

It’s worth explaining what that engine layout means. Most road cars have the cylinders arranged vertically in a straight line, but Porsche is famous for its “flat” six engines, where the pistons are flattened, punching in opposite, or “horizontally opposed” directions. It’s a great way of lowering the centre of gravity of a car – and also provides a distinctive soundtrack.

The junior Porsches are rivals to the BMW Z4, Jaguar F-type and Mercedes-Benz SLC.

Lower CO2 figures, improved fuel economy

This means that the smallest Porsche follows the engineering blueprint of Subaru. The reason for shedding a pair of cylinders and all that cubic capacity is simple: the new Cayman has cleaner CO2 emissions (meaning cheaper tax bills) and less thirsty economy figures. On paper, at least.

A win-win situation? Not quite. It’s come at the expense of some engine character. This is a shame, since the spine-tingling, six-cylinder soundtrack was a highlight of pre-2016 Cayman sports cars.

There’s no doubting the turbocharged performance on offer, however. Even the base 718 has a decent turn of speed, although you have to rev the Cayman quite hard to access all the thrust. Pick the more powerful Cayman S and turbo lag (the delay in power delivery you normally experience as the turbocharger starts spinning) is even harder to encounter – this is a very fast car indeed.

Choice of manual or PDK auto transmissions

We’ve driven models with both six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic PDK paddle-shift gearboxes and are pleased to report that both are brilliant. Test drive one yourself and check which is your preferred method of cog-swapping. Neither will disappoint.

Driver engagement is what lies at the heart of the 718 Cayman’s appeal. This car steers so sweetly, corners with a purity rarely encountered, and yet retains a composed, cosseting ride quality that makes it a viable daily driver option.

An everyday supercar

Practicality is strong on the 718. Considering this is a focused two-seat sports car, it comes with an impressive amount of space – thanks to a pair of boots front and rear, wrapped around the mid-mounted engine. You’ll stow 150 litres under the bonnet and a further 125 out back under the tailgate. That’s more than you’d accommodate in some superminis.

Quality, too, is decent. It’s a robustly built thing and one that pampers both passengers. Just watch out for a long list of optional extras, that can quickly send the price tag spiralling.

Porsche 718 Cayman T revealed

In December 2018 Porsche unveiled the 718 Cayman T, which follows the recipe of the 911 T by offering a sporty drive with understated looks. The engine is a 300hp version of the regular Cayman's 2.0-litre, but it uses chassis parts from the S for better handling. 

Porsche 718 Cayman T revealed

A stereo is a no-cost option to keep the standard T's weight nice and low, while it'll cover 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds with the six-speed manual gearbox or 4.7 seconds with the optional PDK twin-clutch automatic. 

Porsche 718 Cayman Coupe rivals