A Nod to the Past: The Porsche 718 Cayman

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
The past, present and future of Porsche, all in a mid-engined coupé

The 911 has been the Porsche flagship since it first stole the limelight in 1963. It’s seen plenty of different iterations in the decades since, especially in the couple years since celebrating its 50th anniversary. Indeed, it seems almost impossible to think of anything other than that seminal car in relation to the marque. But then you’d be missing what may well become the quintessential mid-engine coupe – the 718 Cayman.

The original Porsche 718 was actually a track car. Built in the 1950s and 60s, the open-cockpit racer took the marque to a good number of hillclimb and Le Mans victories. On the other hand, the Cayman first saw the light of day in 2005 and is still arguably the most fun you can have on the road. For 2017, Porsche have launched a coming together of the two.

In imitation of those early racers, the new Cayman essentially revives Porsche’s tradition of mid-engine sporting performance. The layout, while unusual nowadays, has its upsides; for one, it makes the cars wonderfully responsive, able to nip around corners at pace while remaining stable and in control.

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It’s this agility that allowed the original 1950s 718s to oust the competition, a character that has been channelled into the new car. Not that it’s all about the layout; the styling of the chassis is possibly even more impressive.

A nostalgic reminiscence on classic cars, the taut, muscular proportions and sharper nose silhouette root the 718 Cayman firmly in those vintage traditions. The front profile is wider, more purposeful and the entire feel is one of agility and power. Finished with sculpted wheel-arched and a redesigned rear, it’s an exquisitely modern update of a truly classic style.

Everything about the new chassis has been built with racing sensibilities in mind. There’s increased dynamic responsiveness and cornering grip; springs and anti-roll bars have been designed to be firmer and the tuning of the shock absorbers has been revised. Even the steering has been placed more firmly in the hands of the driver, allowing them to feel the road like the previous Cayman could never achieve.

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Of course, all that would be a little pointless if it had the same engine as the original 718s. At the time they may have been seriously fast machines, but we’ve moved on slightly since then. Rather than the admittedly tinny sound of the racers, the 718 Cayman houses a four-cylinder turbocharged 'boxer' engine – a considerably louder roar.

The engine uses technology that has since only found a home in the 911 turbo. If you’ve ever taken to the road in that magnificent car, you know a little of what to expect here. In short, the 2.5-litre engine translates to a top speed of 170mph, 177 in the sport model, with a 0-62 mph spring of 4.7 and 4.2 seconds respectively.

That’s definitely an impressive level, especially in this type of sports car. But then, the numbers are only where is starts; the 718 Cayman is all about the experience. The reconfigured chassis allows a more visceral connection to the road and a level of exhilaration that – other than a few exceptions - larger, more powerful cars just can’t achieve.

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The interior too has been adapted to that very specific purpose. It has the same level of luxury you’d expect from any Porsche, but with the entirety of the upper dashboard revised for a more performance-oriented look.  There’s a whole host of connectivity and infotainment options which are nice to have when you’re stuck in traffic. On the road however, you’ll be far too intent on simply enjoying yourself to notice.

The 718 Cayman is a chimera of Porsche signatures. Its personality is firmly influenced by the 1950s and 60s, where the original 718 ruled the roost. Its modern technology and overall shape comes directly from the 2005 Cayman and its turbocharged engine is normally housed in the 911 turbo. If there’s any argument for picking and choosing the best of each, the 718 Cayman is it; after a test drive, the 911 will no longer be the first thing you associate with Porsche.

The Porsche 718 Cayman is available to order now, with first deliveries set for Autumn. The standard model is priced from £39,878 while the 718 Cayman S starts at £48,834. 

To make an enquiry, CLICK HERE.

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