Craig Duff road tests and reviews the Porsche Cayman with specs, fuel consumption and verdict in Sweden.

Mere mortals can drive superhero- style with the Cayman's turbo four amidships.

The "poor person's" 911 has hit the jackpot.

Porsche has ditched the six-cylinder engine of previous Caymans in favour of a four-cylinder boxer turbo that endows the two-seat sportster with a unique persona, rather than being a mildly diluted version of the 911.

In every way this four-pot iteration — officially dubbed the 718 Cayman — is better, even if purists will bemoan the loss of the six's exhaust soundtrack.

If you're that concerned about the sound, don't stress: Porsche will have a collection of second-hand Caymans traded in soon after the new car arrives on November 26.

Porsche sports car mastermind August Achleitner concedes the engine change was made to improve fuel economy but reckons the result will be a revelation for existing Cayman owners.

"In everyday traffic it is much better than the old flat-six because it is more powerful and more responsive," he says.

"In 80-120km/h rolling acceleration it is clearly better than the old car. That's the big advantage of a turbo engine."

You'd really want to be a self-shifting enthusiast not to tick the PDK automatic option.

The exhaust note is still rorty and sporty and light years away from a Subaru WRX, also a boxer turbo. Performance is also in the next league: a Cayman S auto will hit 100km/h in just 4.4 seconds, matching the pace of a 911 Carrera yet with a $70,000 lower price tag.

Sliding behind the wheel of a 2.0-litre Cayman with six-speed manual will set you back $110,000, plus on-roads. The seven-speed dual-clutch "PDK" automatic is invitingly just $1572 more. You'd really want to be a self-shifting enthusiast not to tick the PDK option.

The auto's reduced price is down to the fact that less luxury car tax is imposed when fuel use is under 7.0L/100km — and the PDK manages just that on the official testing regimen; the manual sits just over that figure.

On the 2.5-litre Cayman S, the manual is $140,300 and the PDK adds $4990.

Australian versions of the Cayman are better equipped than overseas counterparts with powered and heated sports seats, heated steering wheel, cruise control, alarm, front and rear parking sensors, satnav and dual-zone climate control aircon. This is common to all 718 models, including the recently launched Boxster convertibles.

Adaptive dampers cost $2710 and lower the ride height by 10mm. The "Sport Chrono" pack — which adds a dial to the steering wheel to adjust throttle mapping and adds "launch control" to the Cayman's repertoire — is $3990 for the manual and $4990 on PDKs.

You won't find autonomous emergency braking on the options list, though you can have adaptive cruise control and lane departure alert.

On the road

The Cayman is the car most mortals can manhandle at superhero speeds without making an expensive, or embarrassing, mistake.

The mid-engined layout — where the engine sits behind the driver but in front of the rear wheels — makes it more manageable than the rear-engined 911, which gets tail-happy if the driver lifts off the accelerator mid-corner.

Cornering is the Cayman's forte. The Sturup Raceway in Sweden, a sinuous 2.1km track with more twists than a murder-mystery plot, serves to illustrate how well the new car hangs on through the bends.

The anti-roll bars and springs have been stiffened to minimise body movement, enabling Porsche to soften the initial damping rate to improve comfort on the road.

It's like having your own extreme funpark ride.

The front end also benefits from new rebound buffer springs to improve control over bumps while wider tyres at the back give it more stability when powering through the turns.

The seats are snug and they need to be to overcome the huge lateral loads the coupe can create on occupants through high-speed turns. It's like having your own extreme funpark ride.

Acceleration isn't in the faster-than-you-can-process league of a 911 Turbo but the Cayman still hurtles down the straights with all the intent of a dog charging to a fight.

On public roads tyre roar is the only criticism of the car. The rear rubber is now 265mm wide and the aggressive tread pattern can rumble along on coarse-chip surfaces.

The six-speed manual is a precisely weighted delight but the vast majority of owners will opt for the automatic — if the car is going to be a daily driver, I would too. The auto changes faster than any human can and takes some of the tedium out of traffic snarls.

Luggage capacity isn't a strong suit of sports cars but the Cayman will cope with a couple of small bags in the front and rear, just about right for a weekend getaway.