Turbocharging has not suddenly made the car wheezy, slow, anonymous or unlikeable.

For anyone fearing a four-cylinder implant of total featurelessness, rest assured: the coupé has not succumbed.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The move to four horizontally opposed cylinders instead of six comes as part of a mid-life facelift that leaves many of the Cayman’s hard points unaltered

Objectively, it is in several ways better than what has gone before. Not least of these is the straight-line speed of the S model.

Our test car’s mix of a manual gearbox, a limiter on available revs for a standing start and the same slightly frail-feeling clutch we encountered on the 718 Boxster amounts to a car that you can’t launch away from the line particularly venomously.

Even so, the coupé managed 60mph in 4.8sec when two-up. That’s short of Porsche’s claim, but just 0.2sec behind the 3.8-litre 380bhp run-out Cayman GT4.

More winsome still is the in-gear performance. The previous Cayman’s naturally aspirated indifference to an open throttle at middling revs has been eradicated. So much so that from 60mph to 80mph in sixth, the S proved 1.3sec quicker than the GT4, thanks to the much earlier arrival of the same 310lb ft of peak twist.

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This makes the 718 by far the most amenable Cayman yet to drive on a motorway. More than that, though, it furnishes the car with a new-found thrusting eagerness in the lower ratios, making it a fantastically fast, ever-ready real-world prospect in the way the outgoing version was not.

But there are several things that Porsche cannot make its new flat four do. The first is entirely conceal its nature.

Make no mistake: the throttle response is basically top notch with anything more than 3000rpm on the clock, because from there on out, the progressive build-up of revs is splendidly unencumbered.

But there is still a flat spot below 2000rpm (where you’ll find yourself at, say, 30mph in fourth) in which the car will wait sulkily for its turbo to wind up. Beyond 6500rpm, there’s also a very subtle tapering of effort where once there was only the moreishness of six-pot shock and awe.

Which, of course, reveals the second thing the motor can’t do: noise.

Or rather the right kind of noise. Because in outright volume, the S produces a substantial amount of it (especially from the optional Sports exhaust).

Unfortunately, as we found with the Boxster, it is pitched as a gruff beating monotone and arrives at the ears more like a grown-up and very angry Toyota GT86 than a recognisable product of Porsche. It’s hard not to chalk up that lack of distinctiveness as a disappointment. 

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