When it comes to sports cars, we’re easily charmed, but certain cars still linger in our minds for being truly outstanding. The 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman is one such sports car that continues to captivate our collective attention—and one that we’re happy to have on our 2023 10Best cars list. Its turbocharged engines are mounted amidships, giving the Cayman—and its convertible sibling, the 718 Boxster—a natural handling advantage over front-engined rivals such as the Jaguar F-Type and the Toyota Supra. On a twisty road, the Cayman is unflappable, and its crisp handling makes you never want to stop driving. Sure, there are too few places to stash your phone, keys, and beverages inside the two-seat cabin, and the base turbo four could sound a bit more refined. Otherwise, the Cayman is an impeccably engineered sports car that’s easy to love. We should know. We’ve fallen head over heels for our long-term 718 Cayman GTS 4.0, which has impressed us in all the ways expected—and even some unexpected, including how few compromises it requires to drive daily.
What’s New for 2023?
The 718 Cayman’s top GT4 and GT4 RS models gain Apple CarPlay. The rest of the lineup can now be ordered with Ice Grey Metallic or Arctic Grey paint. Apart from those small updates, the 718 Cayman lineup enters the new year with no other changes.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We’d pony up for the GTS 4.0 model to unlock the sweeter flat-six engine. We’d also keep the standard manual transmission because it’s more fun to operate than the auto. Plus, every GTS comes with desirable performance equipment, including the adjustable and nicely bolstered Sport Seats Plus, a snorty exhaust system, an adaptive sport-tuned suspension, and black 20-inch wheels. It also boasts the Sport Chrono package, which brings a limited-slip differential, brake-based torque vectoring, and the obligatory clock on top of the dashboard.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Porsche offers an assortment of potent engines on the Cayman. The entry-level version is a 300-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four. The S variant is motivated by a turbo 2.5-liter flat-four with 350 horses. While the four-cylinder provides quick acceleration, we take issue with the coarse sounds it produces. Thankfully, the naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six fixes the Cayman’s auditory issues. In addition to the intoxicating noises it makes, the six-cylinder generates 394 ponies in the GTS 4.0, 414 in GT4, and 493 in the new GT4 RS. Regardless of which engine you choose, every Cayman comes standard with a slick six-speed manual transmission—perhaps the best one on the market. If you’re not into that, you can get a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. The Cayman’s willful chassis and telepathic steering transcend perfection. Credit the Cayman’s mid-engine layout and sticky summer tires, which work together to provide the coupe with stunning balance and stability on twisty two-lane roads. This car is a sublime mix of heady handling and a relatively relaxed ride.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the base Cayman will achieve up to 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The more powerful S model is rated at 19 mpg city and 25 highway with the automatic; a manual-equipped GT4 is rated at 16 mpg city and 23 highway. We tested the base car and a Cayman S on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, and both delivered a thrifty 32 mpg in the real world. For more information about the Cayman’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Easy-to-understand gauges, comfortable seats, and well-placed controls give the Cayman’s cabin a form-fitting feel, not unlike a superhero’s suit. Still, a plethora of hard buttons and several cheap plastic pieces keep the interior from standing out in this class. Fortunately, Porsche will cover just about any surface in leather—at a cost, of course. A compact front trunk complements the Cayman’s rear cargo area, providing the small sports car with cargo space that rivals the best of its competitive set. We fit two carry-on suitcases in the trunk and two in the frunk. A steep rear-hatch angle, however, means owners will need to use soft duffel bags to make the most of the available space.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Cayman’s standard touchscreen infotainment system is straightforward and offers generally quick response times to user inputs. While Porsche nickels and dimes its customers by charging extra for some features, such as built-in navigation and a Wi-Fi hotspot, every model now has Apple CarPlay compatibility. Android Auto isn’t available, though. The audio system can be upgraded to either a Bose stereo or a high-end Burmester unit that has 12 speakers and a total output of 821 watts.