A grower, and no, not in the country fayre, marrow contest sense. This is a car that demands time, and a little patience on the part of the driver to fully appreciate, although 981 owners might disagree.
That decision to reduce the number of cylinders has without doubt put a major dent into the Cayman’s appeal as a sports car. Engine downsizing is not something drivers notice or care about in large, comfy executive saloons, but in a sports car, it really does matter.
However, rather than crying over lost aural thrills, let’s start from a clean slate, and tick off the positives. Is this the best looking incarnation of the Cayman yet? Absolutely, especially in the Miami Blue paint of our test car, which certainly received lots of attention.
Is this the fastest Cayman yet? Well, not if you include the future classic that is the GT4
– but it’s probably best not to mention that car right now. What the 718 S gives you, is useable speed.
In the standard car, the tall gearing means it’s easy to bog down at low speed, and you notice the flat-spot in performance before the turbo gets spinning fast enough to do its best work. There’s still a pause in the Cayman S, but above 2,500rpm, it pulls like a train.
There’s no howl urging you forwards anymore, but because the brakes are so good, with strong bite and wonderful, progressive pedal feel, and the manual gearbox is so satisfying, with a positive, mechanical action that’s precise and weighty – you’ll want to work this engine out, and start piling on speed with alarming ease.
The mid-engine chassis still sparkles and entertains in a way that no rival can match. The suspension is firm, but supple enough to deal with the most misshapen British B-road: the front-end dives into corners, the steering telegraphs feedback into your palms.
For all the magic that has been lost from the powertrain, on the right road there is still no sports car that can thrill like the Cayman can. The fact it’s still just as practical, useable, and beautifully made as it always was (more so when it comes to the interior) is almost a given – it still exists in a class of one. We hope faster versions will be able to bring back more of 981’s spirit though.