The new Porsche 718 Cayman S.

THE definition of a sports car may vary from one person to another, but usually the main idea is the car must be red, convertible, has distinctive exterior design, is loud and fast.

The rear wing is extended at 120kph.

Okay, it is not 370kph kind-of-fast because that should be saved for a supercar, but it is basically a machine you would find during a nice summer day in Miami, Florida.

The new Porsche 718 Cayman S barely ticks all the aforementioned ideas of a general sports car.

Red is not in offer (although Porsche can paint the car in the exact shade you want if you are willing to bear the cost), it is not convertible (although its sibling, the 718 Boxster is), the appearance is not too flashy, it is not "shouty" loud and it is fast.

But boy how the Cayman S transforms your definition of a sports car.

As an overview, the 718 Cayman S retains the silhouette of the previous car with updated details like new headlights, front bumper and grille, redesigned rear wing and tail lights and side air intakes.

The car is equipped with Bi-Xenon headlights and 20-inch black Carrera wheels.

This car gets optional Bi-Xenon headlights with Porsche Dynamic Lighting System Plus (PDLS Plus), ParkAssist, sport exhaust system with tailpipes painted in black and the black-painted 20-inch Carrera S wheels.

Inside, most of the surfaces are optional equipments, such as two-tone Black-Bordeaux Red leather package, heated steering wheel, carbon interior package, Porsche crests embossed on headrests, instrument dials in Bordeaux Red, smoking package and seatbelts coloured in Bordeaux Red.

Drivers may select driving modes - Normal, Sport, Sport Plus or Individual - via the rotating knob.

Behind the cabin you will find a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder flat-engine that replaces the 3.4-litre naturally-aspirated flat-six engine.

Despite two cylinders down and reduced engine displacement, the new turbocharged engine churns out 345hp and 420Nm of torque, which is 20hp and 62Nm more than the naturally-aspirated variant made.

The car, which is equipped with the Sport Chrono package, will do zero to 100kph in 4.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 285kph.

On paper, the new Cayman S seems better in every way compared with the previous-generation's S variant. Even so, how is the experience behind the wheel?

The Drive

Upon getting into the car, I struggled to identify the differences between the Cayman S and its base variant.

The previous 981 Cayman variants could be differentiated by their exhaust tips; one with large single outlet and another with smaller twin pipes.

The engine growls more muscularly when it is being fired up and has more shake at idle compared with the naturally-aspirated unit on the previous generation car.

The cabin is nice as it is a comfortable and sporty place to be in.

The Black-Bordeaux Red leather combination works given the interior a luxurious looks, while the supportive seats and excellent placement of input controls keep the driver in command.

A sports car needs to allow the driver be in control over his car. This instills confidence during high speed travelling and the Cayman S does this well.

Instrument wise, it is purely Porsche; three main cluster with speedometer on the left-hand side, high-definition multi-info display that the driver can toggle on the right-hand side and most importantly, the analog tachometer on the centre, which is my favourite part of the cabin.

The overall design may show its age now with the new generation cockpit setup found on the new Porsche Panamera and Cayenne, but the one on the Cayman S (and on the 911) works cleverly as far as usability is concerned.

A sports car might need to be quick and exciting to drive, but it does not have to be hard to be driven.

Operating the Cayman S is pleasant but engaging at any speed, thanks to the optimum calibration of its 2.5-litre engine and PDK dual-clutch transmission.

There is almost no jerk when rolling off the line in traffic and the PDK works as if a professional driver is shifting the gears for you - I kid you not - it always shifts into the right gear at the right time.

In auto mode, when you really think the car needs to downshift or upshift, that is exactly what the gearbox does.

Shifting is snappy quick, especially in Sport and Sport Plus mode, and the exhaust crackles each time you downshift or lift the throttle off.

However brilliant the cabin or the powertrain are, the highlight of the Cayman S is the balance of its chassis and handling, which contribute to more than half of its "definitive sports car" title.

Underpowered cars may lead to uninspiring drive, while overpowered ones could scare you in a way that you are worried that you might end up crashing into a bush if you sneeze at speeds.

But power output at just about the right amount is what makes the Cayman S a brilliant sports car.

The turbocharged engine reacts instantly upon input and the car encouraged me to push myself to the limit.

The seats give great support for sporty driving.

Overall, the vehicle's handling is neutral with slight hint of understeer, but the direction change is simply spot on.

The 718 Cayman S slips through the Kuala Kubu Baru's windy stretch of road like it was built for it makes me wonder if the joyous drive could be elevated with a proper manual transmission.

The PDK gearbox is one of the best one in the business. It is just the "feel" that there is room for more driver effort using a manual transmission with the Cayman for that kind of spirited drive.

The 718 Cayman S showcases remarkable overall balance in its driving aspects that could redefine your definition of a sports car, despite not being red, flashy and convertible.

It is a machine that carries strong motorsport heritage and induce its drivers to explore their limits.

The price of the Porsche 718 Cayman S starts at RM700,000 and this car is packed with optional kits that bumped its price to RM815,634.34.

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