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Porsche 718 Cayman Buyer’s Guide

Written by Peter Morgan

Model history/Timeline

The auto industry model year (MY) runs from August 1 to 31 July, so a 2016 model could have been produced between 1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016.
2017 MY: 718 Cayman and Cayman S models introduced September 2016, with 350hp flat-4 VTG turbo. New options includes launch control (requires PDK and Sport Plus).
2018 MY: 718 Cayman GTS with 365hp flat-4 with uprated VTG turbo. Sport Chrono, PTV and mechanical differential. PASM, 20-inch wheels standard. 6-speed manual or 7-speed PDK auto. Sports interior, sports exhaust.

2020 MY: Cayman GT4 introduced with 414bhp 4.0-litre flat-6 engine.6-speed manual only with standard PTV (inc LSD) and PASM.  

What's it like?

The 718 series Cayman is a major evolution of the 981 models. As well as the entirely new 4 cylinder turbo engines, only the bonnet and boot lids, windscreen and convertible roof are common with the earlier range. Still strictly a 2-seater with the well proven mid-engine location, they have good front and rear luggage space.
The 718 Boxster was released first in mid-2016 and followed that Autumn by the 718 Cayman - which for the first time in the series history was slightly cheaper than the convertible. Sharing the same engines, both models are outstanding packages suited to both urban and country lifestyles and are straightforward yet exhilarating to drive.
Cosmetically, the 718s have been sharpened up in visual terms with major revisions to the front and rear appearance which, despite similar dimensions as the previous 981, look generally bigger. There is a new dash and while basic equipment has never been a strongpoint of the Boxster/Cayman series, the options are class leading.
The 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre engines bring something of a culture change for Porsche fans who love the 981's classic flat-6 music. But max power is generally up by around 30hp, with fuel consumption improved by 4-5mpg in extra urban use. OK, there isn't the sharp pick up from low revs that marks out the 981 series, but these engines are a big technology step forward and despite extra performance reflect the changing climate for the automobile in today's world.
The 7-speed PDK (Porsche Doppel Kupplung) automatic transmission has become hugely popular, giving virtually seamless shifts and is ideal for driving regularly in urban situations. The PDK has cleaner CO2 emissions and may therefore attract lower road tax. PDK also accelerates faster than the manual. An S with PDK and Sport Chrono is faster 0 to 62mph than the previous 981 Cayman GT4!
Nevertheless, the 6-speed manual will appeal to those who prefer the traditional stick shift and particularly if you enjoy countryside or trackday driving.

Which one should I get?

The 718 Boxster and Cayman are designed for modern lifestyles. They are easy to live with and practical. Whether a more leisurely 2.0-litre or the potent 2.5-litre, these cars have all the power you will need. The Boxster offers the facility of open air driving, thanks to its electrically folding roof, but doesn't have the quieter cabin, enhanced security and opening tailgate of the coupé bodied Cayman. If you are looking for an ultimate driving experience, the Cayman remains arguably the best handling mid-range sports car out there.
The GTS models are top of the range with extra power coming from an optimised and higher boosted turbo. It is 15hp up on the S and a full 35 up on the 981 GTS. With a thumping 3.9 second 0 to 62mph time using Sport Plus and the PDK transmission, this is not a Porsche for the feint hearted.
These are cars where less is more can apply in terms of options. The standard Boxster comes with 18-inch wheels - great for a firm but comfortable touring specification. Going up through 19-inch and 20-inch alloys demands the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) for a smoother ride, with the choice of harder (track focused) settings (but look out for those kerbs!). Sport Chrono adds more track performance.
The standard steel brakes are more than capable for most situations. Ceramics (PCCB) are available, but are probably a luxury. The exhaust note can improved by a Sports exhaust (standard on the GTS) and for touring, look for the basic cruise control or the very impressive Adaptive Cruise Control.
In terms of interior comfort, there are various seat alternatives (with electric assistance and lumbar support), but you'll be impressed by the standard items. 2-zone aircon offers more control over the standard (yet effective) system. To fit a child seat requires the Isofix attachment points to be installed.
All models have Porsche Stability Management (PSM), which is a combined traction and differential braking control system, but PASM must be specified on the standard and S models.
In terms of external colour, the Boxster sends a message with the brighter colours but as with most cars, it is the conservative hues that are most popular (and help retain its value).  

What are the running costs?

Correct servicing is a critical requirement on these models. Generally, if the car is under either a new car warranty or an official extended warranty, it will be necessary to have it maintained by an Official Porsche Centre (OPC).
If the car's warranty has lapsed, having the car serviced at a leading independent specialist can often be a cheaper and more convenient option. Nevertheless, the independent route does require some research to establish that the business has the expertise to look after your car. The better specialists will only employ ex-OPC mechanics and they will have the latest dedicated Porsche diagnostic equipment (known as PIWIS).
Once a car is say, 4-5 years old, a top independent specialist's stamp in the service book carries the same respect as an OPC. For reviews on a given specialist, try asking a question on the PCGB forums.
The 718 Boxster/Cayman models have a 2 year or 20,000 miles service interval (whichever comes sooner). The first service will be an Intermediate service, which typically will cost around £500 (inc VAT) from an OPC and £350 from a top independent. This covers an oil/filter change, plus pollen filter and a basic visual inspection check.
The Maintenance service occurs after 4 years/40K miles and costs about £625 (OPC) or £450 (indy). Extra work here would include air filter change and a more comprehensive check. Spark plugs and the polyrib accessory drive belt would normally require changing from 4 and 6 years respectively. Typically brake fluid is changed every 2 years and might cost £100-150.
Pre-April 2017 road tax for the 718 Boxster/Cayman 2.0-litre model will cost £195 each year, £230 for a PDK 2.5-litre S and £250 for a manual 2.5-litre S. Considering the road tax from after the April 2017 changes, typically all models will cost £450 each year (includes loading of £310 pa for cars valued over £40K for first 5 years). Cars over 5 years old revert to £140 after).
Wear and tear should be minimal on cars that are less than 3 years old, although it does obviously depend on how you use the car. Rear tyres typically may last 20K miles and cost £400 + VAT to replace. Disc brakes and pads should last 25K miles with easy use. Replacement front and rear could cost £1200 + VAT.
Aircon systems tend to need regassing after 3-4 years and condensers replaced after 7-8 years. Clutches should last 50-60K miles and would cost around £1200 + VAT to replace. The PDK transmission fluids should be changed every 6 years and will cost from £800.

What should I look for?

Before you begin visiting dealers or private sellers, do your homework. Understand the various models and what you want out of the car. Very often it's the basic spec cars that offer the best value.
It may seem strange to say to it, but nearly new cars can be subject to significant fraudulent activity, from misrepresentation following crash repairs to completely false identities. Never buy the car unseen. The best advice is buy from an OPC or a leading independent Porsche specialist. If you are intent on buying privately, get a specialist inspection.
On such sophisticated cars, it is important to connect a Porsche PIWIS computer on the digital motor electronics (DME) system. To an expert, this will reveal data such as active fault codes, over-revs and compare the DME mileage with that shown on the dash.
Although these cars are perhaps only a few years old, they will be subject to wear and tear so take a torch if you are at all handy. Look at the disc brakes - these shouldn't have edge lips of more than 1mm or be rusty or corregated. The brake pads should have more than 3mm friction material. If the car has only 10K miles recorded and it has new discs and pads, this is a warning sign about the authenticity of the mileage.
Similarly, the tyres should be a quality brand carrying a Porsche approved 'N' rating on the sidewall (N1, N2, N3, etc). Tread depth should be better than 3mm, which is about the width of a £1 coin and there should be no sidewall damage.
Make a point of running a finger around every wheelrim to check for kerbing damage. There should be no corrosion showing on the wheel alloy. Wheel refurbishment costs typically £100-150 per wheel.
From about 1 metre away walk around the car to check all the panels appear the same colour, that the panel gaps are the same and that there aren't any scratches or other defects visible. Many dealers will repaint the front bumpers to eliminate unsightly stone chips. This is OK as long as the paint match is good.
A paint thickness gauge does help to identify legacies of panel damage. On a Boxster, check the roof is undamaged and works correctly. In the cabin and each of the compartments check for trim damage and excessive wear. A musty smell can suggest a water leak.
If you can, get under the car to check for grounding damage and front radiator fluid leaks. The exhaust shouldn't require replacement on cars less than 10 years old.
Always try to drive the car before you buy. There is no substitute for taking a short run and appreciating whether the car is easy to live with.
If you sense anything isn't quite right, it probably isn't. Always switch PASM from Normal to Sport (and Sport Plus if fitted) to sense the change in ride. Similarly try out all the accessories, particularly the air con, windows, cruise control (if fitted) and sat-nav.

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