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Topping many best-of sports cars lists this year is the latest version of Porsche’s entry-level offering. The 718 Cayman coupe and Boxster convertible are mid-engine masterpieces stocked with some of the best handling money can buy. Given its brilliance, it’s challenging to justify the extra $40,000 for the Porsche 911. Even the range-topping Cayman GTS starts below base 911 MSRP. But if potential buyers are hard-pressed to secure the sports coupe, avoid the base model 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman for the following reason.

The base engine is powerful but has an unpleasant soundtrack

Porsche’s 718 lineup comes with a host of robust and potent engines. The Cayman has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, good enough for 300 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque. Porsche says its base powerplant can rev all the way to 7,500 rpm, but max power comes at 1,000 rpm less. Producing 150 horsepower per liter is a significant automotive achievement, especially in a car south of the six-figure range. However, the turbo-four has an issue causing some Porsche faithful to wince in disappointment.

Reviewers assert the Cayman’s engine “doesn’t sound the way a Porsche should.” Edmunds complains that the “plebian four-cylinder engine sound clashes with the expectations set by the design.” Despite the 718’s talent on the track, “it’s a deal-breaker for some staffers,” they say. Car and Driver has a similar grievance. Regardless of their praise expressing the 718 “steers like the Almighty designed the steering rack,” they bemoan the “gravelly soundtrack.”

While the resonance may be a reason to skip the base model 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman, there’s help at hand. For an extra $12,000, potential buyers can ditch the 2.0-liter for a much more Porsche-y powerplant.

Other 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman configurations

Above the base 718 is the Cayman T, which also has the turbo-four. But those selecting the mid-range Cayman S will gain half a liter in displacement and 50 more horsepower. What’s also acquired is more of the 911-style shrill at higher rpm, thus providing an outlet for those who want more grunt than the buzzy 2.0-liter. Yet, even more powerful configurations are available, nearing the $100,000 mark.

The Cayman GTS is stocked with the full, fat, 394-horsepower 4.0-liter flat-six. Although it’s a full liter larger than the base 911, the 718’s big brother comes with two turbos, netting 443 horsepower. Nevertheless, the GTS’s naturally-aspirated engine comes in varying degrees of grunt, with further 414 and 493 horsepower options in the GT4 and GT4 RS specs. Unfortunately, the top-of-the-line Cayman GT4 RS costs just shy of $150,000. 

Is the 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman a good car?

The 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman is an amazing car
2023 Porsche 718 Cayman Style Edition | Porsche AG

Even though the 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman is the brand’s entry-level offering, it will be hard to differentiate how it’s anything else than a price-paired 911. With the engine in the middle rather than sticking out the back, the balance it adds to the Cayman makes up for its relative decrease in power.

Each 718 Cayman comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission regardless of which engine or spec is chosen. However, a lightning-fast seven-speed dual-clutch auto—Porsche’s impressive PDK—with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters is available. It may not be able to traverse a racetrack as quickly as the bigger, pricier 911, but the 718’s handling and stability are similarly spectacular. But skip the base model for the more powerful S to enjoy the fullness of the 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman.


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