Until the launch of the previous generation Cayman GT4 (981) sporting a 3.8L flat six engine producing 385 horsepower the Boxster and Cayman were never going to bite at the heals of the iconic big brother, the legendary rear engined 911, this all changed with the launch of the Cayman GT4, a car that finally put the Boxster / Cayman platform on a serious footing. Since then the new 718 has been launched and the range topping GTS model pushes out a whopping 365 horsepower and gives the previous generation GT4 and the lower end 911 models a run for their money. The 718 (982) is the model designation for the latest generation Porsche Boxster and Cayman models launched in 2016. It´s 2019, over 20 years on from the very first Boxster launched in 1997, so what´s on offer from the 4th generation Boxster and 3rd generation Cayman? Read on…
A bit of Porsche Boxster history
The first 986 Boxster was launched back in 1997 with a pretty tame 201 horsepower flat six 2.5L water cooled engine which was then increased to a 2.7L producing 227 horsepower and the S model made its first appearance in 2000 with a 3.2L flat six engine producing a little more respectable 252 horsepower. One of the original criticisms of the original Boxster was the lack of power that could make the most of that wonderful chassis and mid engine setup. In 2005 came the 987 range with a facelift and bigger engines and at this moment Porsche released the coupe version of the Boxster known as the Cayman. In 2012 came the 981 Boxster and Cayman models and higher performance models such as the Cayman GT4, a car to rival the bigger brother, the 911 on a track.
Fast forward to today
All new 718 Boxster and Cayman models were launched in 2016 with flat 4 turbo charged engines, a subject of much controversy amongst motoring journalists and Porsche fans alike. It´s a little like the time Porsche replaced the much loved air cooled engine with a water cooled engine in the 911, this didn´t go down well at the time but is now just a note in the history books as every Porsche thereafter has sported a water cooled engine. Well the change to the 4 cylinder engine has really put a cat amongst the pigeons and the sound track coming out of the new engine is nowhere near as fulfilling or orchestral as the previous flat six engines that howled with delight at the top of the rev range. The new engine while more powerful and perhaps technically better suited to the more than capable chassis has taken away one of the sensory pleasures universally loved by owners and automotive journalists alike, that wonderful sound coming from behind the seat.
The 718 model line up
There are currently four models in the range, there´s the base 2.0 300 horsepower Boxster and Cayman, then comes the latest T range with the same engine and power output but with a more driver focused setup, next comes the S model with a larger 2.5L engine producing 350 horsepower and bigger brakes from the 911 and finally there´s the range topping GTS model with an increased 365 horsepower and a more sporting setup amongst other things.
Porsche Boxster or Cayman?
The Boxster or Cayman are almost identical except for one being a convertible and now the Boxster is a little more expensive, previously the Cayman was more expensive. The chassis is so good that there is little noticeable difference in the driving experience whichever you go for. The Cayman perhaps has slightly better lines but that´s very subjective. Personally I would go for a Boxster for the enjoyment of top down driving but for others who care less for top down driving the Cayman is just as good and has the benefit of being a little less expensive and has beautiful lines at the back.
Which Boxster or Cayman 718 should I go for?
For the driving enthusiast that loves carving up country roads and wants the purest Porsche driving experience the new Boxster / Cayman T model could be the one to go for, the 300 horsepower engine has enough power, the car is lower by 20mm with the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), it sits on 20” Carrera S wheels and has been stripped down as much as possible to focus on driving and driving alone. Porsche have even removed the PCM and audio system to reduce weight although it can be added in at no extra cost and most sensible buyers will do so. We would say the Boxster or Cayman T recreates a little of the feeling of the earlier air cooled 911 cars in terms of feeling. The buyer looking for a sporty daily driver and entry to a world of Porsche sports car would be more than happy with the base Boxster or Cayman and can choose from an unlimited choice of add ons and extras that Porsche is famous for. The S model is for the buyer who wants more power and the GTS is for the buyer looking for the top of the line range with the most power currently available in the model line up.
Is the new 718 range what the early 911 models used to be?
While this review is not about the 911 we can just say that the 911 is getting, bigger and more refined with each passing generation and is now well into the high price GT category and out of the reach of many buyers. This is where the 718 fits in nicely. The Porsche 718 models are light, relatively small, they have hardly grown at all in over 20 years, have much more power and capture the essence of what made the early 911 cars so great to drive. Add in the ideal mid engine layout equally distributing weight instead of having an engine at the rear and you have an optimum chassis on which to base a drivers car. This is not to knock the 911, it´s a feat of engineering and has its own flavour and appeal amongst motoring enthusiasts but the new 718, this gives a close to 911 feeling, a very real Porsche sports car at almost half the price of a 911 and one that is a delight to drive. It may not be the fastest car out there and the sound of the new 4 cylinder flat 4 engine has ruffled quite a few feathers but in all honesty it doesn´t take too much away from a sensational driving experience. It will be interesting to see the next move coming from Stuttgart, will they stick with the flat 4 engine despite so much criticism, will they find a way to satisfy those so missing the much loved 6 cylinder engine or will they introduce a 6 cylinder engine to the 718? It is rumoured that Porsche will introduce 6 cylinder versions for the Cayman and Boxster higher up the range but nothing official yet from Porsche. Let´s watch this space.
The Boxster often does not get the credit it so rightly deserves, it´s the car that took Porsche out of the financial difficulties of the 90´s and helped to propel the company to where it is today. In addition to this the Boxster has consistently ranked at the top of the roadster segment along side the BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK ,Audi TT roadster and most recently the Jaguar F type. If you are a driving enthusiast looking for that perfect piece of German engineering to enjoy on winding country roads the Boxster or Cayman are pretty much unbeatable and the latest driver focused Boxster / Cayman T models could be the pick of the bunch for the Porsche enthusiast!