For Porsche fans, the letter ‘T’ has mixed meanings. In 1967, the 911T debuted as Stuttgart’s entry-level sports car, replacing the four-cylinder 912. Six years later, Porsche launched the 911 Carrera 2.7 RS. In T-for-Touring spec, it was the exact opposite: a more luxurious take on the flagship road racer. Then, in 2017, came a new 911T, this time a mid-range model focused on pared-back performance. Confused? You’re right to be.
The 718 Cayman T follows the lead of that recent 911: no extra power, but less weight and a sportier chassis. A budget GT4, if you will. Additional kit includes adjustable suspension, a mechanical limited-slip diff, torque vectoring, the Sport Chrono pack, sport mode for the stability control and a ‘loud’ button for the exhaust.
You also get 20-inch alloys, retro sill stripes that evoke the classic RS, plus the all-important fabric interior door straps. They probably save the weight of a crisp packet, but reek of motorsport cool.
Tick all those options on a basic 2.0-litre Cayman and Porsche says you’ll pay 10 percent more than the £7,265 premium for the T. Notionally it’s good value, then. On the downside, that elevates it to within £1,691 of the 2.5-litre Cayman S. So which one to buy? Let’s settle this with a race…
OK, full disclosure: this isn’t Top Gear and I’m not Jeremy Clarkson. So I won’t be racing the Stig up a runway. Nonetheless, I’ve set my alarm unsociably early and planned a long, cross-country loop on favourite Kent and Surrey B-roads. Frankly, if the Cayman T can’t shine here, it doesn’t deserve those stripes. Or straps.
My Cayman T came with the £2,303 paddle-shift auto gearbox, which seems less aligned with its hardcore ethos than the six-speed manual. Then again, the PDK ’box – it stands for Porschedoppelkupplung, if you must know – is telepathically intuitive and whipcrack-quick, so I hardly feel short-changed. It’s good enough for the 911 GT3 RS, after all.
Other extras fitted included cruise control, park assist and dynamic LED headlights, boosting the price from £54,358 to £66,761. Not quite such good value now…
And a few Porsche Cayman T details.
Big fan of the pinstripes. Those fabric door handles save *some* weight. pic.twitter.com/MofrHYtBiR
— Tim Pitt (@timpitt100) July 6, 2019
Thankfully, none of the add-ons are really necessary; this Porsche is all about driving. Mid-engined and beautifully balanced, it’s one of the finest handling cars on sale. It corners flat and focused, its angle of attack adjusted by your right foot as well as your hands. The weighty steering, powerful brakes and modest dimensions all imbue instant confidence. Hedge-lined lanes that feel narrow in a new ‘992’ 911 are a perfect fit for the compact Cayman.
The oft-heard complaint about the 718 concerns its flat-four engine, which sounds a bit, well, like a Subaru. Pressing a button to open the exhaust baffles doesn’t change that – it simply adds volume – but it’s less of an issue than some suggest. Nonetheless, while the 300hp T feels brisk, and offers plenty of turbocharged torque, it only really comes alive beyond 4,000rpm. I’d certainly welcome the extra oomph of the 350hp Cayman S.
I’m not totally sold on the T’s stiffer and 20mm lower suspension either. Combined with rubber-band 25-profile tyres, its ride in the sport setting is to brittle for British tarmac. Doubtless it would be brilliant on-track, or indeed in Germany. But the more supple standard car is better suited to our roads.
And there’s the rub. Like the letter ‘T’ in Porsche folklore, this Cayman can’t decide what it wants to be. It has flashes of brilliance, yet feels compromised for daily driving. Even so, the Cayman is still the £50k sports car I’d choose, despite rivals such as the Alpine A110 and Toyota GR Supra looming large in its mirrors. Just forgo a couple of options and buy the S instead.
0-62mph: 4.7 secs
Top speed: 170mph
CO2 G/KM: 180
MPG combined: 32.8
Porsche Cayman T: in pictures