It’s been suggested for some time that the Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman models will go electric after the current generation cars bow out. And now, thanks to the reveal of the Mission R concept in Munich this week, it’s seeming all but inevitable.
Although we won’t be that sad to see the rumbly flat-fours of the core and S 718 models go, it’ll be a shame when it’ll no longer be possible to buy one with a six-cylinder engine. A powerful, sweet-sounding flat-six in a small package was always the appeal of the Boxster and the Cayman.
Thankfully, the vast majority of these cars ever made are powered thusly, meaning there’s be plenty of used choice now, and there still will be after the switch to electricity happens. But what’s the pick of the bunch? You’d think the answer would be obvious, but you’d be wrong.
The Cayman GT4 might spring to mind first, perhaps in its earlier 3.8-litre form thanks to the lack of sound-sapping particulate filters. The current Boxster Spyder might be in with a shout too. But there’s an argument for the best of the best being the much earlier Cayman R.
The GT4s underwent a radical transformation, gaining new engines and various components borrowed from the 911. The R, on the other hand - well, that was still just a Cayman, albeit with some choice upgrades to elevate the mid-engined sports car without losing sight of what makes the normal one so good.
Porsche liberated 55kg from the R, thanks to the use of aluminium door skins, slim bucket seats, lighter 19-inch wheels and the loss of the air condition and sound system. The last two could be optioned back in at no cost for anyone (rightly) not committed enough to drop them for the sake of shaving 15kg off the kerb weight.
Porsche chose not to bother with its PASM adaptive damper system, sticking with passive dampers paired with stiffer, shorter springs to drop the ride height by 20mm. The final piece of the puzzle was a 9bhp uplift for the 3.4-litre straight-six, giving a new figure of 325bhp at 7400rpm. Not quite as impressive as the 414bhp developed by the 718 Cayman GT4, but more than enough.
We’re clearly not the only ones to think of the R as the pinnacle of the Cayman lineage, as all these years on, they’re still very expensive to buy. This relatively rare manual R, up for sale at an independent dealer in East Yorkshire, is £49,500. Even before you adjust for inflation, that’s not far off the original price.
You could instead spend £20,000 or so more and get a GT4, but would you have much more fun on the road? We certainly doubt it.