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2017 All-Stars Contender: Porsche 718 Cayman S

A great drive facing engine-related controversy

The new 718 Boxster and Cayman are Porsche's first go at a four-cylinder-powered mid-engine sports car since the 914 although this time, the engines aren't sourced from Volkswagen. While the entire 718 family arguably deserved of a spot in our All-Stars competition, the sportier Cayman S made the best argument for a chance to take home a trophy.

Porsche squeezed 350 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque from its 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four before inserting it into the Cayman S and bolting it to a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic. Before shipping this Lava Orange example to us, Porsche added the Sport Chrono Package, adaptive sports seats, PASM sport suspension, torque vectoring, sport exhaust, and 20-inch wheels to ensure that we had the most impressive Cayman S driving experience possible.

Things started off a bit rocky for the Cayman with our judges, several of whom predictably took issue with the new four-banger. For instance, despite finding the Cayman "comprehensively tuned to deliver full-speed excellence, kind of like a maximized Formula 1 setup ready for qualifying," contributor Michael Jordan found the engine "a total deal-breaker." Contributor Basem Wasef had similar conditioned thoughts. "It makes perfect sense on paper and is capable of going like stink, but I can't help but feel that something is lost from the last generation of silky, revvy, sonorous naturally aspirated flat-six," he said. Perhaps that is true, but one thing not lost and instead gained is raw speed.

Indeed, even the critics had positive things to say about the Cayman's at-speed behavior. "What a wonderful little plaything: lithe, balanced, and deliciously modulated, it's hard not to giggle out loud when you're tackling a technical road or a tight section of track with the 718 Cayman S," noted the aforementioned Wasef. Another editor said the Cayman has "an engine that sounds like butts" but found the chassis and gearbox "brilliant."

As to whether the division over the engine's aural attributes kept the Cayman from taking home an All-Stars trophy, you'll need to come back on March 11 to find out.

2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S Specifications

PRICE $67,350/$95,925 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 2.5L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve flat-4
350 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 309 lb-ft @ 1,900-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, RWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE 21/28 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 172.4 x 70.9 x 51.0 in
WEIGHT 2,988 lb
0-60 MPH 4.4 sec
TOP SPEED 177 mph