Since it joined the Porsche lineup, the Cayman has always been the hardtop coupe counterpart to the Boxster, but for 2017, this relationship has been cemented with a common numerical name, 718. The modifier comes from a race car that competed in the late 1950s and '60s, and like its modern namesakes, granddad was powered by a four-cylinder engine.
Really, it's the engines, each complete with a turbocharger and missing a pair of cylinders, that are the biggest news surrounding the 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman. To learn about them, as well as everything else that's new, read our 718 Boxster first drive. Everything apart from a few retractable roof references applies, but let's run down a few odds and ends specific to the Cayman.
- As always, adding a roof made of metal instead of cloth yields greater structural rigidity and thus greater overall driving goodness. Unfortunately, we only got a chance to drive the Boxster on the twisting stretch of road that surrounds Lake Travis near Austin, Texas. We're pretty sure that's the only twisting stretch of road anywhere in Texas, so our route elsewhere in the Cayman was inherently nowhere near as challenging. As such, we'll just have to safely assume that as before the Cayman is incrementally more of a driver's car than the Boxster.
- That said, it's not like the Boxster is some gooey convertible hack job. The term "cowl shake" never once enters your mind in Porsche's mid-engine roadster, and the multi-layered top is incredibly quiet at speed. Despite the Cayman's hatchback trunk lid, you don't really get any more cargo volume apart from the weird bins high atop the parcel shelf behind your head. However, rear-quarter visibility is a bit better in the Cayman versus a roof-up Boxster, and the cabin in general has an airier feel.
- More realistically, then, choosing a Cayman instead of a Boxster comes down to your particular coupe-versus-convertible preference. Let's say you're exceedingly pale or dislike having your hair fussed. Perhaps it's a humid 95 degrees in central Texas and you suddenly find yourself thinking a Detroit winter ain't so bad. Maybe you just think the Cayman looks better. Any or either way, a coupe has its advantages.
- Besides the choice between Cayman and Boxster, you really have a staggering number of selections to make when spec'ing your 718 ? and that's not counting the endless ways to coat the interior in various types and colors of leather and trim. There are the two new engines, two transmissions, two exhaust systems, two brake systems, two steering systems, three suspensions, and at least six wheel types in three sizes. Would you like your torque vectored? How about the Sport Chrono package with its many performance-enhancing elements and snazzy clock? All of these choices can fundamentally change the car's character (well, maybe not the clock). If you're really interested in buying a 718, we suggest being a royal pain and trying out as many variations as you can. Believe us, trying out only two is not enough to create a complete picture of the 718, let alone decide which one to plunk a whole heap of cash on.
- Speaking of which, there actually is a new difference between the Boxster and Cayman for 2017. Before, the coupe was a few hundred bucks more expensive. Now, the roadster is a few thousand bucks more expensive ? both compared to the 718 Cayman and the last Boxster. Though lame, that move is in keeping with the rest of the industry, which dictates that a retractable roof equals more money. The base Cayman's price of entry goes from $52,600 to $53,900, while the S climbs from $64,100 to $66,300. Admittedly, the price difference between Cayman S and Boxster S is less than between their base models.
- One more difference pertains to newfound parity between the models. In the past, Caymans had a little more power than similar Boxsters ? one way Porsche justified charging a little more for the coupe. Now both the base 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter S engines make the same output in either 718.
- To find out what the 718 Cayman S and its turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four sound like ? certainly a point of contention for the already controversial motor ? watch our video below.
- The last Cayman and Boxster carried the internal designation of 981, per Porsche's eternal strategy of giving everything seemingly random three-digit names. Witnessing a conversation between Porschephiles is like listening to someone extol the virtues of various numbers in a phonebook. This is mentioned because the new versions actually carry the internal designation of 982, meaning what you have here is a 982 718.
So, in addition to robbing you of the chance to pay extra for a sunburn, the 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman is every bit as new, improved, and different as its Boxster sibling. And frankly, the new naming strategy makes sense, officially bringing the two cars together in a way they have technically always been.
- Engine Turbo: 2.0L I4; Turbo 2.5L I4
- Power: 300 HP / 280 LB-FT; 350 HP / 309 LB-FT
- Transmission: 6-Speed Manual or 7-Speed Automatic
- 0-60 Time: 4.0?4.9 Seconds
- Top Speed: 170?177 MPH
- Drivetrain: Rear-Wheel Drive
- Engine Placement: Mid
- Curb Weight: 2944?3054 LBS
- Seating: 2
- Base Price: $67,350
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