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AAS Auto Service Co.,Ltd

Address:36/9, Vibhawadi-Rangsit Rd., Sanam Bin, Don Muang, Bangkok 10210 Thailand


Service day:Mon-Fri, Service hours: 08:00-18:00

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Editorial Reviews

Driven to satisfaction

Despite some noise issues, Porsche's 718 Cayman remains a hoot to drive

For years, the Porsche Cayman had practically been the default choice of a high-performance sports car for driving enthusiasts who didn't want to part with more than 10 million baht in cash.

But that was back then because choice now has become more varied thanks to new players on the sporty coupe scene. As well, this year's new excise taxation has allowed some expensive imports with sub-3.0-litre engines to fall in price.

Just over a year ago, Jaguar introduced the coupe version of the F-Type with 340hp and 380hp supercharged V6 motors to take on the Cayman, while BMW has just started official sales of its all-new M2 Coupe this year.

Although not a mid-engine, two-seat car like the Cayman, the M2 has a similar goal of capturing the hearts of those seeking driving enjoyment via a hearty 370hp 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo powerhouse, slick-shifting dual-clutch automatic and rear-wheel-drive system. Best of all, the Bimmer costs a not-so-hilarious 5.999 million baht (spare your frustration please as Thailand has ridiculously high import tax).

That said, Porsche may be feeling the pinch with such intensified competition, not only in Thailand but in all other global markets. Just to refresh some minds, the latest Cayman -- now bearing the 718 (say seven eighteen) numbers preceding the badge -- will be priced lower than its Boxster roadster sibling for the first time.

Porsche reasons that open-top cars have always been more expensive to develop than those with fixed-top roofs. Good proof is the higher positioned 911 model range and all other coupe/cabrio offerings of other rival brands. Hmm, it appears Porsche enjoyed nice margins with the Cayman in the past 10 years.

With the M2's price reflecting the new CO2-based tax regime in Thailand, it's most likely that the Cayman can't err from the 6 million baht price range when sales start later this year, because the new downsized turbo engines it has received as part of the mandatory mid-life update has allowed for lower excise (not import) tax than ever.

On top of the revitalised Cayman range so far is the S model, which sees a 350hp 2.5-litre turbocharged flat-four replacing the outgoing 325hp 3.4-litre normally aspirated flat-six. It's quite certain that this particular version will be dearer than the M2.

It must be reminded again that Porsche wants to simplify the Cayman/Boxster differentiation in 718 guise to just the type of roof and price. That now means that both 718s share the same power and torque outputs, design language and options list.

No introduction is needed to why Porsche has engaged in the engine-downsizing principle. After employing a 3.0-litre petrol-turbo engine for the 911 Carrera for better real-world tractability, fuel economy, CO2 emissions, the Weissach boys are hoping the same for the Cayman (and Boxster).

To the most crucial question every Porsche enthusiast would be asking: has four-cylinder turbo power taken away driving soul from the Cayman? After a first drive of it in Sweden last week, the answer is yes and no.

The bad news first, and it's got to do with the noise it makes. While there's no mistake about it sounding, upon start-up, like a proper horizontally-opposed engine – such as in many offerings of Subaru, the only other maker to use such a cylinder format – it feels a little too industrial elsewhere when driving.

Rather than emitting a higher-pitched tone of the non-turbo six-pot predecessor, the new-age flat-four generates a monotone, bassy tune. Don't think for the moment that the exhaust button on the centre console will improve things – it merely turns up the volume whose booming effects can sometimes be ear-piercing.

While owners of the previous Cayman are most likely to find this unsatisfying, people new to the Porsche brand may not. And for this particular reason, this aural bit may not actually pose any significant threat to the car's sales success since we're talking about the most affordable Porsche sports car in price terms.

That aside, though, the four-cylinder Boxster unit is a peach on the move. With maximum torque arriving at just under 2,000rpm, the Cayman S performs with no sweat in both real-world driving and around a racetrack. It revs freely to the 7,500rpm engine redline and builds power linearly in the proper sporty fashion.

Engine response may not be entirely razor-sharp, but it can be made quite immediate when switching the new drive mode selector on the steering wheel to Sport. Also available in the updated 911 Carrera and inherited from the 918 Spyder hypercar, the Ferrari-style dial also incorporates that gimmicky power-boost mode, which some people now like to call the magic button.

The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic may be carried over, but it's still arguably the best transmission around of this nature. It feels smooth on town roads of Malmo and shuffles gears evocatively around the Sturup racetrack in Sport Plus setting. Although the 350hp output may concede 20 colts to the M2 on paper, the Cayman S's overall goals are properly served up on the road where it feels equally powerful. The Porsche being a lighter car is one advantage.

The driving characteristics of the revised Cayman have also been tweaked. Top on the list of improvements is the 10% quicker steering, said by Porsche engineers to come from the 911 Turbo. You can feel the more immediate turn-in the rack has to offer in twisty road bits.

As in all other current Porsches, road-holding and braking ability are on the outstanding side of things. The car feels intense, planted and stable over the legal limit. Such superiority is also confirmed around the track where the mid-engine chassis feels superbly balanced. You need S power to genuinely push the chassis to the limits.

Despite having an engine traditionally placed up front, the M2 has an equally generous amount of grip. This means that both of these intended rivals stand out in their class when it comes to a satisfying and involving driving experience.

If there was a thing the Cayman still doesn't do well is cruising refinement. Even when driven at legal paces, there's too much road and tyre roar. Go over 120kph and it gets worse and tiring.

Another aspect playing down the Cayman's livability is the package itself. Neither the front or rear boot can take a golf bag or full-size suitcase.

And while the cabin remains solidly made, there's no area to place your smartphone, the door bins can't accommodate bottle holders and the retractable cupholders remain flimsy to use.

Just to make sure the Cayman holds some relevance, the infotainment has been updated to take Apple CarPlay, along with other subtle, but effective, visual tweaks on the exterior.

But, as ever, controlling this and other functions on the lower bit of the fascia isn't ergonomically fuss-free. As an everyday sports car, the M2 and F-Type seem better cars. But that's exactly where Porsche wants to underscore the Cayman's position as a device made for pure driving enjoyment. It still wants you to focus and cherish the car's fabled driving manners, while giving a new kind of performance appeasing to CO2 legislators as well.

In this respect, the Cayman is the most compelling car to drive around. But it isn't the automatic choice anymore because rivals have caught up with a virtually similar driving experience yet with a dose of everyday practicality.

Turbo flat-four is powerful but not sweet to the ears. MANUEL HOLLENBACH


Drive mode selector on steering wheel is an ergonomic delight. MANUEL HOLLENBACH

Apple CarPlay is part of the latest in infotainment. MANUEL HOLLENBACH

Interior remains well-made but is ageing in terms of functionality. MANUEL HOLLENBACH

Rear spoiler helps for an already abundant grip. MANUEL HOLLENBACH

Subtle exterior styling tweaks give Cayman a classier feel than ever. MANUEL HOLLENBACH

Less can be enough

Like the 718 Cayman S tested in the main story, Porsche's entry-level coupe now comes with a four-cylinder petrol-turbo motor replacing the 2.7-litre six-cylinder engine of the predecessor.

But rather than getting a detuned version of the S's 2.5-litre flat-four unit, the regular Cayman receives a smaller 2.0-litre variation, which omits the variable turbine geometry turbo technology featured in its bigger sibling. As a result, the 2.0 produces 300hp — 50hp less than the 2.5 (see graphic for more details).

Despite having inferior figures on paper, the Cayman's performance isn't necessarily short-changed in the real world. In fact, the presence of the forced induction equally helps on low-end tractability — something lacking in the normally aspirated flat-six of yore.

Where the Cayman throws in the towel to the go-faster S is naturally in a straight line whereby the more powerful of the duo pulls noticeably stronger and revs more keenly towards the redline.

Even so, proposing for the non-S Cayman is now easier than ever because it's over three-quarters as fun to drive as the genuine S. Buyers new to the Porsche brand will certainly find joy in the Cayman. That also includes existing clients of the outgoing Cayman, although some might not be able to resist the temptation of the fiercer S beast.

Just don't expect the Cayman to be cheaper than the 6 million baht BMW M2 in Thailand. Although this year's new tax system will make both Caymans cheaper than the pre-facelift models, the Thai Porsche office still has a tendency to price their cars in isolation with the competition.

Regular Cayman is now really all you need. MANUEL HOLLENBACH


36/9, Vibhawadi-Rangsit Rd., Sanam Bin, Don Muang, Bangkok 10210 Thailand

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