There was a time when all of Porsche’s mid-engined offerings came with the distinctive growl of a six-cylinder engine. However, with the 718 opting for a more economical turbocharged four-cylinder, some enthusiasts complain there’s something missing in the noise department.
While we already knew that the company is working on a new 4.0-liter flat-six for the returning GT4, rumors arose that the engine could make its way into less-hardcore variants of the 718 after a basic-looking Boxster was spotted during cold weather testing earlier this year. Porsche has apparently kept at it, as another 4.0-liter Boxster test mule was spotted at the Nürburgring along with a non-GT4 Cayman, according to autoevolution.
When Porsche submitted a VIN decoder guide to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its 2019 model year vehicles, AutoGuide noticed a new addition — the 718 Cayman T — back in July. Details were spartan, with most specifications listed as TBD. However, the guides did specify a 2.0-liter powerplant and some weight savings over the standard model.
New details have emerged since then, suggesting the engine may be bigger and more powerful than initially assumed.
Having already introduced a subscription service for its vehicles, Porsche decided to continue experimenting with alternatives to traditional car ownership. The luxury brand plans to launch two pilot programs on both U.S. coasts (condolences to America’s Heartland) aimed at encouraging drivers to get behind the wheel of a Porsche for brief periods of time.
The first, overseen by Porsche Cars North America, will test exclusively within the Atlanta area, near Porsche’s North American headquarters. Called Porsche Drive, the pilot program launched a few days ago and offers hourly to weekly rentals of new Porsche cars and SUVs. Meanwhile, a second joint venture with peer-to-peer car rental company Turo will service San Francisco and Los Angeles starting next month. That endeavor focuses on the sharing of already purchased (new and vintage) Porsche vehicles by owners inclined to share them.
Depending on who you ask, the 718 Cayman is the best car in Porsche’s lineup. It’s not the fastest or the nicest, and you’ll have to spend a bundle if you want it equipped with luxury features. But it does offer a reasonably entry point into pure driving enjoyment without a lot of gimmicks.
While a bevy of cheaper options exist, the 718 strikes a balance that’s difficult to beat. Most American rivals have the right spirit but not the necessary precision, and competition from Japan doesn’t really exist. We can praise the Mazda MX-5 or Subaru BRZ as an overwhelmingly satisfying experience all day, but neither occupy the same category as the $56,500 Porsche.
The 718 needs a mass-market rival that wears an identical price tag and hosts a similar personality, if only to force it to step up its own game. But there isn’t one — not yet, anyway. Mercedes-Benz is currently working on a successor to the SLC and, while that vehicle isn’t really fit for taking down the Porsche, reports have indicated its replacement just might be.
Replacing the lead singer in an iconic rock band is a thankless task. Van Halen fans never fully embraced Sammy Hagar. Paul Rodgers’ recent stint as lead singer with Queen was okay, I guess, and Axl Rose is now screaming it out in front of AC/DC. All fantastic singers and more than worthy in their own right, but how to you replace David Lee Roth, Freddie Mercury and Brian Johnson?
Enter Porsche’s 2017 reboot of its beloved mid-engine Boxster/Cayman. Same deal. The operatic flat-sixes that have propelled this duo since their respective inceptions sing no more, replaced by a pair of gruff turbo flat-fours.
Oh, the conundrum.
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