For luxury-oriented magazines like duPont REGISTRY, Monterey Car Week is one of the industry’s most important events. It’s one of few times a year that large-scale manufacturers and boutique carmakers get to debut their latest creations in front of the media and a sea of potential buyers. However, while the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Bugatti W16 Mistral, and Lamborghini Urus Performante stole the show, our car week revolved around a little red 718 Cayman stashed in a parking lot less than a mile away.
It’s the 2022 Porsche 718 Cayman T, and it was our companion for Car Week, covering nearly 1,000 miles from Los Angeles and around the Monterey Peninsula. The T represents a real sweet spot in the 718 Cayman lineup. It combines the base Cayman’s 3.0-liter turbocharged flat-four with a plethora of standard equipment. These include PASM Sport Suspension, Sport Chrono Package, mechanical limited-slip differential, sport exhaust, sport seats, and 20-inch Carrera S wheels, to name a few. It combines the model’s entry-level engine option with all the go-fast bits to fully utilize it.
The result is one of the lightest Porsches for sale. Cars equipped with the six-speed manual transmission, like our tester, tip the scales at 3,058 lb. PDK-equipped cars weigh an extra 62 lb at 3,127 lb, but more than make up for the added heft with lightning-fast shifts. There’s no wrong answer to the transmission question when it comes to the 718 Cayman, but we were thrilled ours had three pedals. With the stick, the T will reach 60 mph in 4.9 seconds versus 4.5 seconds with paddles.
Between Los Angeles and Monterey sit a mix of flat open highways, twisty canyon roads, and stunning coastal drives. The first allowed us to open up the taps on the T’s flat-four. It may have two fewer cylinders than its predecessor, but it loses none of its character. Peak power still lives at the top of the rev range at 6,500, urging its driver to work for top speed. However, peak torque now comes in at 1,950 rpm allowing the T to feel both quick off the line and around town. There is, however, no getting around the fact that the T is turbocharged. When in boost, it’s a pocket rocket, but until you get there, you’re fighting a fair bit of lag.
At no point were we left feeling like the T needed more power. 300 hp at just over 3,000 lb is a mighty combo. More importantly, its total output is usable all of the time. The T doesn’t require a wide open road or ideal conditions, it begs to be redlined and enjoyed, and despite lacking a flat-six, it sounds great. At idle, its mechanical sound is something reminiscent of a 912. You get more than just exhaust noise. You can physically hear the engine sitting just behind you. Push the gas, and the T delivers a strong impression of a Subaru WRX STI. With plenty of woosh noises and blow-off sounds, the T is far from dull.
Its extensive suspension improvements shone through as the road got twisty. It’s already a light car, meaning its agility is far from surprising. It was its stability through tight corners that impressed most. The adaptive suspension stiffens considerably for sporty driving without turning it into a back-breaking experience. This mid-engined sports car proved very approachable, inviting us to test its reachable limits. We noticed ourselves enjoying the drive more than some modern supercars.
It’s how you interact with the 718 Cayman that makes the experience. From the talkative and direct steering to the notchy shifter, the T constantly provides feedback. Every aspect of the 718 Cayman is lively and involved, making a stronger case for itself as you rack up more miles.
Once in Monterey, not even the hilly streets made us wish we had PDK. Thanks to a light and easy-to-modulate clutch, the T is more than up for daily-driver duties. Its flat-four was also surprisingly efficient, averaging 27.4 mpg during our near 1,000-mile trip. As we ran from event to event, the T’s small footprint proved a blessing in disguise. It dominates as a little city car as it’s easy to maneuver and fits just about anywhere, and despite its small size, it’s also relatively easy to get in and out of thanks to a sizable door.
From a visual aspect, the T doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from a standard 718 Cayman. The dead giveaways are its larger wheels and added badging. Otherwise, its bumpers, side skirts, and small rear wing remain unchanged. It’s a pretty thing, albeit a bit conservative with its flare. It’s sleek but not aggressive, in line with the car’s overall ethos.
Inside, the 718 Cayman benefits from excellent Porsche build quality, everything feels premium to the touch, and there’s not a stitch out of place. If there is any drawback to its cabin, it’s the outdated infotainment system. Navigating menus and maps proved challenging, and the screen wasn’t very responsive. Thankfully, you get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity which essentially solves the problem. However, it’s worth mentioning that our phone disconnected itself randomly at times, even with a wired connection.
Pricing-wise, the 2022 Porsche 718 Cayman T presents fairly good value as long as outright speed and power are not the goals. It starts at $72,500 plus a $1,450 destination charge. However, our specific car and its few options increased the as-tested price to $78,550. Its base price falls just short of a Cayman S yet includes many go-fast bits as standard. Optioning these on an S would result in a much higher price tag, and the GTS 4.0 starts at over $90,000. In this case, the T is a car that handles just as well as cars that cost significantly more but sacrifices raw power.
As a car for tackling a crowded city during the week and canyons on the weekend, the Cayman T is nearly faultless. Even on our lengthy road trip, it proved comfortable and more than up to the task of covering long distances. Sure, a big comfy GT would’ve been ideal for highways, but we would’ve given up fun in the canyons. The T proved the best of both worlds, easily at home on the open road and the twisty stuff. Given its price point, capabilities, and overall appeal, the Cayman T and its standard kit carve a tempting lane amongst its more expensive GTS 4.0 and GT4 siblings. After a week in so many different scenarios, it’s clear that the T is ready to shine no matter where it goes.