I slip out of the house under the cover of darkness. It feels like a getaway. In reality it’s a midweek errand, though the distilled driving dynamics of the 2020 Porsche 718 Cayman T lend the air of an escape. It’s mentally freeing to drive a sports car like this, though it requires a degree of skill. The clutch and stick require precision. So does the steering. It’s not hard work, but it demands focus.
The engine turns over and the exhaust exhales. I’m not even out of the driveway and my cover’s blown. The 718 might perform well in a chase, but it’s not a stealthy getaway car. I do, however, feel like a wheelman. And that’s the idea. Porsche makes big sedans, crossovers, even a station wagon called the Sport Turismo. The 911 is the standard bearer. It’s also relatively large and expensive. The most distilled Porsche experience — perhaps it’s the 718.
The 718 T, specifically, is the sweet spot for many enthusiasts. It offers everything you need, like Porsche’s Sport Chrono Package and Active Suspension Management. And nothing that you don’t — like interior door handles, which Porsche swaps out for nylon straps to save weight. The 718 T treatment transplants many of the performance features from the higher powered GTS and pairs them the 718’s base 300-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo flat-four. The GTS variants, which crank out 394 hp from a naturally aspirated flat-six, are a rocking good time, but raw power isn’t the calling card of the 718. Rather, the mid-engine layout is complemented by the dialed-in chassis to create pitch-perfect dynamics, which is why you buy a 718.
The 718 Cayman T I tested for a week came in Guards Red, which is a popular color for Porsches and naturally garners attention. The T treatment adds 20-inch Titanium Grey wheels from the 911 Carrera S and center-mounted dual exhaust. The sides read “718 Cayman T” in subtle gray lettering across the bottom of the doors. The “T” variant is available on the Cayman and its convertible twin, the Boxster. This Cayman costs $72,570 with just a few options, like navigation and heated seats, plus destination charge. In the relative sense, it’s not a great deal (remember, you have nylon door pulls), but for a Cayman it’s reasonable. You’re paying for Porsche’s looks, driving character and the Porsche badge itself. In this case, you’re essentially getting a diet GTS, which starts at $86,800. I’ll say it again, you don’t need copious power to enjoy the 718, but some targeted upgrades do make a difference.
The Cayman T is rewarding, After my early morning run, I kept finding reasons to drive it. A red Porsche in the driveway is basically irresistible. An impromptu meeting arises with an old friend? Hey, I’ll drive to you. The Cayman is a sports car that isn’t a cliché. It’s engaging and enjoyable but not abusive or intimidating. The Sport Chrono pack adds a steering-wheel switch that allows you to toggle between driving modes, and a stopwatch on top of the dashboard. I twist the Chrono knob to Sport and head out for a long afternoon drive.