Porsche 718 Cayman officially launched: a boost for the 911?

Over the last few years we’ve increasingly asked if the Porsche Cayman – first with the GTS and then with the critically acclaimed GT4 – is encroaching ever more on the Porsche 911’s traditional territory as the go-to German sports car.

The Porsche Cayman GT4 especially was an especially inviting proposition with a genuine 3.8-litre flat six straight from the 991.1 Carrera S and a host of modifications made by Andreas Preuninger’s GT department, all for much less than the list price of a standard 911 Carrera.

However, even the most blinkered Porsche 911 enthusiast won’t have failed to notice the Boxster’s switch to downsized, turbocharged flat four engines. Now, it is the turn of the Porsche Cayman to get the flat four treatment, complete with facelifted aesthetics to boot.

Air vents on the latest Cayman now feed a turbocharged flat four engine. Plastic slats don't look particular premium, in our opinion.
Air vents on the latest Cayman now feed a turbocharged flat four engine. Plastic slats don’t look particular premium, in our opinion.

Officially unveiled today at the Beijing Auto Show, the new 718-badged Porsche Cayman features a turbocharged 2.0-litre flat four in its most basic guise, with the Cayman S getting a 2.5-litre version of the forced induction four-pot, boosting power to 350hp.

Like the Boxster, the Cayman gets a reworked chassis (internally known as Type 982) featuring revised spring rates, new anti-roll bars and more direct electronic power steering, all designed to make the mid-engined coupé feel even more responsive when pointed at a corner.

The Sport Chrono Package option also brings with it the mode dial seen in the second generation Porsche 991 models, allowing you to change between the ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Plus’ settings without your hands ever leaving the steering wheel.

Inside, the new Cayman gets Porsche's latest treatment, complete with 918 Spyder-style steering wheel and the latest PCM with even more connectivity.
Inside, the new Cayman gets Porsche’s latest treatment, complete with 918 Spyder-style steering wheel and the latest PCM with even more connectivity.

It is those new engines though that will undoubtedly cause the most controversy among current Cayman enthusiasts. The 2.5-litre ‘S’ variant features a VTG turbocharger to ensure improved response lower down the rev range but, so far, on the Boxster, feedback compared to old naturally aspirated unit has been mixed.

On paper, the improved performance of flat fours – 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds for a new PDK-equipped Cayman S – puts the Cayman even closer to our beloved Porsche 911. The S even comes fitted with the same brakes as the 991.2 Carrera to provide the necessary stopping power.

However, the flat six (and its unique soundtrack) was previously a major selling point for the Cayman line-up. It was, in many respects, a 911-light. With that link now lost, Porsche’s switch to turbocharging across all its cars may actually be a boost to the iconic Neunelfer.

718 branding is a nod to Porsche's tradition of flat four race cars. Will that success in the Fifties and Sixties translate to the modern day though?
718 branding is a nod to Porsche’s tradition of flat four race cars. Will that success in the Fifties and Sixties translate to the modern day though?

While the response to the new 718 chassis has been overwhelmingly positive on the Boxster platform, the jury is still out on the sound of the flat four. With Cayman buyers often more enthusiastic drivers than Boxster owners, this could hit sales of the former.

With a list price of £39,878 for the standard 718 Cayman, it is unlikely that potential Cayman buyers will start looking at new 991.2 Carreras but it could certainly boost interest in the last of the flat sixes cars (either mid- or rear-engined).

Despite these reservations, with a similar number of tweaks as seen on the 991.2 update, the new Porsche Cayman does offer an phenomenal level of technology for its asking price. It will be interesting to see if that translates into success in the showroom.

What do you think of the new Porsche 718 Cayman? Is it good news for the current crop of 911s? Join the debate in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter pages now.

Boosted performance figures make the new Porsche Cayman even more inviting on paper. At its price point, it will likely show a clean pair of heels to all its rivals.
Boosted performance figures make the new Porsche Cayman even more inviting on paper. At its price point, it will likely show a clean pair of heels to all its rivals.

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