Porsche 718 Cayman

Porsche 718 Cayman, 2017, front, action
Porsche 718 Cayman, 2017, front
Porsche 718 Cayman, 2017, side, action
Porsche 718 Cayman, 2017, rear
Porsche 718 Cayman, 2017, side
Porsche 718 Cayman, 2017, interior

AS high performance motoring is synonymous with Porsche everyone assumes the German car maker always uses large engines.

And while that used to be the case, with Boxster and Cayman models powered first by 2.9-litre and then 2.7-litre flat six boxer engines, all that has now changed.

In line with the industry trend Porsche has downsized the engines in both models to 2.0-litre, four cylinders, the size often used in the average family hatchback or saloon.

But the capacity of the engine is where the similarity with the family car ends.

For the turbocharged units powering both Boxster and Cayman develop a whopping 300bhp and propel the car to 62 miles per hour in just 5.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 170mph, far quicker than with the larger engines.

The flat-four turbocharged boxer engines are a throw back to the Porsche 718 mid-engined sports cars that won numerous races in the 50's and 60's and so both cars now have the 718 designation in front of their names.

The 718 Cayman is the lowest price Porsche you can buy and so has a lot of appeal to drivers aspiring to the German performance brand.

But even though it's the entry level price model it's not cheap at just under £40,000 - nor is it in any way inferior to any of its bigger brothers.

Viewed from the front the Cayman has similar lines to the iconic Porsche 911. It's only when you walk around the side that the much more severe tapering roof line becomes obvious making the differences between the two glaring.

But while it's different it's still just as appealing and many people I spoke to preferred the "slimmer" look of the Cayman.

Step inside and you have typical Porsche layout with the oversized rev counter pre-eminent in front of the driver. And while the speedometer is small by comparison there is a sensible digital readout so there are no excuses if you suddenly find a flashing blue light in your rear view mirror.

The cockpit wraps itself snugly around you and everything is tight and well laid out.

High-backed sports seats with integral headrests hold you firmly in place and it's easy to find the ideal driving position with plenty of adjustment on both the seat and steering wheel.

The height of the Cayman - or rather the lack of it - means it's not everyone's cup of tea when it comes to getting in and out and the clutch is so heavy you feel as if you have done a workout on a leg press at the gym after a week of driving.

But for all that this is a car lives up to what you would expect of any Porsche.

The steering is pin sharp and the handling superb with the car staying completely flat through long fast corners and never thrown off course by poor road surfaces.

You have a choice of changing the driving modes from normal to sport for more action or even performance mode for race-circuit-like driving.

The new engines make this car blisteringly quick and there's a spine tingling exhaust note which you can enhance by pushing the sports exhaust button (a £1,530 optional extra).

I found the tyre noise on my test car quite high though, although this model was fitted with 20-inch Cayman S alloys instead of the 18-inch standard models which could partly explain it.

FAST FACTS

Porsche 718 Cayman

Price: £39,878

Mechanical: 1,988cc, 300 bhp 4 cylinder petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox.

Max Speed: 170 mph

0-62mph: 5.1 secs

Combined MPG: 38.2

Insurance Group: 168g/km

C02 emissions: 42

Bik rating: 32%

Warranty: 3 yrs/unlimited miles

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