Porsche's well-balanced sports car
As the Porsche 911 roars deeper into supercar territory, the 718 Cayman S assumes the mantle of a pure sports car. The latest iteration is a midcycle update so big Porsche gave it a new generational designation.
The major change: a turbo flat-four replaces the flat-six Caymans have had since birth. Displacing just 2.5 liters, it pumps out a flat-six-beating 350 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque. Both manual and automatic transmissions are available; we went with the PDK dual-clutch automatic. With it comes a Sport Response button, which unleashes 20 seconds of sharper throttle response. Lift, and the throttle stays open with the fuel off to keep the turbo spinning. In addition to new chassis tuning, the rear suspension is wider, and the steering rack has been lifted from the 911 Turbo.
It’s Best Driver’s Car week! Don’t miss the incredible story of how we chose the 2017 Best Driver’s Car right here, and stay tuned for the World’s Greatest Drag Race, coming soon.
The Cayman’s boosted four is more than enough to get 3,190 pounds (1,447 kg) hustling. Zero to 60 mph happens in 3.6 seconds, and the quarter mile passes in 12 seconds flat at 114.9 mph (185 km/h). Braking from 60 mph requires only 99 feet. It’ll rip off a 23.7-second figure-eight lap at 0.89 average g and pulls 1.01 average g on the skidpad.
“Is this a four-cylinder engine? ‘Cause it sure has a lot of power. Good push from the turbo at the start and great handling in the corners. Those tires stick to the ground, and the 718 feels natural. The body roll feeling is very small. The 718 gave me the confidence to keep going and push for more. The suspension is just what you want to feel in a car like this—stiff, sporty, rigid. You get a very good sense of what is happening on the road. That’s a great sound coming from the engine, as well.” – Miguel Cortina
“It’s a fantastic chassis and can use every single horsepower back there. Just the right amount of power. Steering is excellent. Among the best here. Talkative and light, quick enough but not too much. It’s a great sports car, very much in the same vein as the Corvette. It doesn’t set my hair on fire, but then, most people aren’t as jaded to quick cars as I am. I could see this being a real dark horse.
Problem: it sounds like someone put a muffler on my garbage disposal.” – Scott Evans
Read about other 2017 Best Driver’s Car contenders:
- Ferrari 488 GTB
- Porsche 911 Turbo S
- Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
- Lexus LC 500
- Mercedes-AMG GT R
- Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
- Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
- Aston Martin DB11
- Nissan GT-R NISMO
- Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
- McLaren 570GT
“There is something really spirited and sweet about this car. It is so well balanced and smooth. It’s so seamless in its power delivery and responsive to the slightest steering input. It handles speed with ease. It is light and nimble, generating a fast, enjoyable, comfortable, and balanced ride. There are those who miss the sound of the old throaty engine, but the tradeoff for a nice wide powerband is worth it. The car was not hurting for power, even going uphill. You just feel good in this car. It makes you feel like you are a better driver than you are.” – Alisa Priddle
“The 718 Cayman S feels like one of those cars that needs no introduction. Probably because the chassis is so beautifully balanced, probably because the handling is so predictable, probably because each movement is connected directly to the brain’s synapses. Nothing requires a second thought. The Cayman does everything right, and it never feels like it’s trying too hard. This is a car that’s best explained by simply driving it.” – Derek Powell
“I’m blown away with how good this car is to drive. It manages to be approachable and yet so good on the edge. I know the Cayman is helping me out in ways that I can’t even begin to understand, but I don’t care. It’s so good that it lets me focus on driving. It’ll let me know when I screw up or do something wrong, but it doesn’t hold it against me. Even when the car intervenes, like traction control pulling power, it’s so subtle that it makes me think that I did it. It’s an exceptionally balanced car. Driving this car feels like using a broken-in baseball mitt—it just fits. Feels right. Under-braked, though. Real mushy pedal at the end of the downhill run. This car is so fast that I want more brakes from it.” – Christian Seabaugh
“The car is one of those rare kinds of cars where from the first time I turn the wheel I get a smile on my face. The steering response is relatively quick, and it’s easy, with the polar moment of a mid-engine design, it makes the chassis not work very hard to change direction. That’s part of the advantage of it. The other advantage of the mid-engine design is you get the majority of the weight over the drive wheels, which is really good for traction under acceleration and for braking but without the tricky polar moment of having the engine all the way out in the back.
“The advantage of the four cylinder turbo here is the midrange torque. There’s a big punch in the midrange. And I’m not waiting for the revs to build for the power to build. It’s already here now. And the transmission knows it. PDK is just so smart on track. It holds the gear at a relatively low rpm like in the low 5,000s. With the six cylinder, I bet it would have down shifted in those situations, and this car doesn’t. And the shifts are really quick and accurate.
“The brakes are really good. They’re not oh-my-God downforce R-compound carbon-ceramic good, but they’re very good. And they didn’t change. There’s a little more pedal travel than I would want in a perfect world. But the braking force was good. The car has a little bit of push. Enter the corner with a little bit of patience. Don’t go to power early. If you go to power early, you can create understeer with the Cayman S because it’s a mid-engine. The front end is light. Keep weight on the nose or even trail-brake it a little to get it to come into the corner. The advantage of that little bit extra understeer is the stability that comes with it. And I found that this is a car that I could drive harder and harder.
“The car rewards aggressive driving, for me anyway. And I was never in a position where the power broke the rear tires loose. I don’t slam the gas down, anyway. But it puts power to the ground really, really well.
“Marry this car. This is the kind of car you marry because it’s so fun to be around and it’s good-looking and shows you a good time and never tries to stab you in the back. And it might not have the extremes of the 600 horsepower sports car, but it is so rewarding to drive and hang around with and have with you for long periods of time.”
|2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Mid-engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Turbocharged flat-4, alum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||152.4 cu in/2,497 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||350 hp @ 6,500 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||309 lb-ft @ 1,900 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||9.1 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; struts, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||13.0-in vented, drilled disc; 11.8-in vented, drilled disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||8.0 x 20-in; 10.0 x 20-in, forged aluminum|
|TIRES||235/35R20 88Y; 265/35R20 95Y Pirelli P Zero N1 (Tread 220)|
|TRACK, F/R||59.6/60.6 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||172.4 x 70.9 x 51.0 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||36.0 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,190 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||44/56%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||39.1/— in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.2/— in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||51.3/— in|
|CARGO VOLUME||5.3 (front), 9.7 (rear) cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||1.8|
|QUARTER MILE||12.0 sec @ 114.9 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||99 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.01 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||23.7 sec @ 0.89 g (avg)|
|2.2-MI ROAD COURSE LAP||1:40.05 sec|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,600 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$95,475|
|AIRBAGS||8: Dual front, fr side, fr head, fr knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||16.9 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||21/28/24 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||160/120 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.82 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium|