Project Cayman T: Part 1 – Intro and Must-Do Mods

For all of those wondering why I sold Project S2000 shortly after I FINALLY got the turbo installed and running well, this is it: a 2023 718 Cayman T. The T variant is discontinued for the 2024 model year, so this is literally one of the last Ts to be made. As the Cayman is going EV with the 2025 model year, this T is going to be one of the last gas-powered and manual Caymans ever made too. Why a Cayman? I drove one about a decade ago on the Snake and I was amazed at how well the car rotated. Much later, I did the mid-vs-rear experience at the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles where I drove a 718 Cayman GTS and 991.2 Carrera S. That solidified my desire for the Cayman even more. I always said there were two ways to make the S2000 better: go turbo and mid-engine (engine behind the driver for extra clarity as some like to point out the engine in the S2000 is located behind the front axle). So, this is like Project S2000: Part 37.

The T variant gets all the handle-good and turn-fast stuff usually reserved for the GTS, but paired with the lowest power base engine. Many people complained about the 718 Cayman getting a turbo 4-banger, but personally, I think it is awesome. Some of the key T features: limited-slip differential, SPASM (Sport Porsche Active Suspension Management) that is 20mm lower than the base suspension, GT4 short shifter for the 6-speed manual, PSE (Porsche Sport Exhaust), Sport Chrono, 20” Carrera S wheels, GT Sport Steering Wheel (smaller 360mm diameter vs standard 375mm) and the door straps instead of handles. There is also PTV (Porsche Torque Vectoring) which applies a bit of inside rear brake to help the car turn-in. The downside is that PTV chews through rear brake pads at a pace that is about double the front pad wear when you corner often and quickly. I know someone who went through the rear pads in 2900 miles of fun street driving.

My option list is short: Full Bucket Seats, BOSE stereo, LCA (Lane Change Assist, yes, you have to pay for that in a 2023 Porsche), luggage net in the passenger footwell (that was free), and the fire extinguisher (recommended by a fellow turbo S2000/Cayman T owner). Oh yeah, the color white was free too. With the bucket seats and manual transmission, the Porsche provided stats say my configuration weighs in at 2976lbs. The PDK is a good chunk heavier and the GT4 is another couple cylinders heavier. My Cayman T is almost as light as you can get a 718 Cayman. I have two options that added a bit of weight: the BOSE stereo and the fire extinguisher. I did save a few grams by having the rear emblem deleted; I did not get a discount for saving Porsche part cost and labor on the emblem.

I LOVE the bucket seats. To make sure I could tolerate them before buying them, I spent a couple hours in them driving cars at the PECLA. An issue I had with the S2000 was that the stock seats did not keep me in place during hard cornering on the track. I would finish a track day and wonder why my left leg was tired; it wasn’t from using the clutch but bracing myself against the door. The seats holding me in place also allows me to focus more on steering inputs instead of body bracing. In order to ease ingress/egress with the bucket seats, I push them all the way back. The seat is manual adjustment for moving forward and backward, so it is very quick to adjust. The bucket seats do have powered height adjustment, likely because there Is not a lot of space for a lever on the side. I had rented a 718 Cayman S on Turo a while back to verify I wanted a Cayman and it had the larger 360mm diameter steering wheel. I did not like it at all. Heck, I would not mind going a little bit smaller diameter than this 330mm GT wheel. This wheel is as basic as you can get in a modern car; no buttons. It was actually a bit weird at first having to reach for the volume knob again for the stereo. The wheel does have the dial for changing the settings with the Sport Chrono system. For the Individual setting, I configured to have ‘on’ the: Sport Plus, Exhaust, and deactivation of start/stop. I left the suspension in ‘standard’ to smooth out the crappy roads around where I live and I also left the rear spoiler in fully automatic control instead of having it up all the time. It is a quick turn of the dial to Sport Plus setting to stiffen up the suspension for the twisty roads. Oh yeah, the car has active engine and transmission mounts that stiffen up too. Though they are not stiff enough to my liking, not even close to the Hasport engine mounts I had in the S2000. These active Porsche mounts are known to fail, but no one yet makes stiffer mounts for the 718 Cayman. Maybe someone will in the future.

The shifter is the short shifter from the GT4. It is not as good as the S2000 shifter in my opinion, but I think most people would agree. The feel of this shifter reminds me a lot of the shifter in my 2006 G35 sedan. From what I remember at least, I sold that car over ten years ago, this shifter has a slightly shorter throw and the effort is a bit higher. I recently drove a 997.2 911 and the shifter effort is a bit higher in the T along with being a little more notchy, which is a good thing to me. The clutch effort of the T is higher than the S2000 with ACT HD pressure plate. Getting into reverse is surprisingly high effort, like strain a muscle level effort; you really have to pull the shifter over to the left. Sometimes it does not want to go into reverse, so I have to do the trick of putting it into first gear to get some synchros going or something, then it will move over into reverse. A few times, it has grinded going into second gear from first. It seems many people have reported this on the forums without anyone really following up on their status. Maybe the synchros need to wear in a bit? I have found that I need to be a bit patient and wait for the revs to drop before pulling the shifter into second to avoid a grind. With the long second gear, it is a bit of a wait.

Something new for me that the T has is auto-rev matching on the downshifts and it works quite well. It can be turned off though by turning off the Porsche Stability Management (PSM). Looking into the future, many people rave about the Numeric shifter for Porsches for the added precision and feel. However, I’d rate the stock shifter an 8 out of 10 and I am in no rush to swap it out. Maybe 5-10 years down the road when the stock shifter wears out a bit (the plastic base gets more flexy) and I have done everything else I want to do to the car.

Why not get a whole GT4 instead of just the short shifter you ask? Who wants to give me another $60k? Also, my car will be used a ton on the street in addition to being the track car. As such, low front splitters are not practical where I live for daily use and the big wing attracts the wrong kind of attention too. The entire bottom of the front bumper on the S2000 was scratched and I didn’t even lower the car much from stock. No Honda OEM front lip either, so it was as daily-use friendly as possible and it still got scrapped. The down-low turbo torque of the T is better for street use too compared to the GT4. All the 718 Caymans get the same manual transmission gearing, which is to say, they all have really long gearing; second gear in the Cayman T is basically equal to third gear in the S2000. I was worried about the gearing feeling too long, but it honestly has not felt that way due to the torque of the turbo engine down low and I have not even gone past half throttle yet.  The turbo-4 does come in different displacements with the base/T getting the 2.0L and the S getting the 2.5L with more power.

12 comments

    1. I auto-x’d a C6 when it first came out way back when. I didn’t care for it; it felt bigger than it was whereas the Cayman feels smaller.

      1. I hear you. I cycled through an AP2 S2000, C6 Z06, F80 M3, and now TTRS daily and 991.1 GT3 track car. between these cars and rentals and driving friends’ cars, realized I valued a smaller lighter car and mid/ rear engine feel over other factors. There’s always someone richer/ smarter/ faster, go the route that makes you happy.

    2. Except Khiem has a car he can drive to and from the track comfortably and also drive on a daily basis. A Cayman is far more comfortable than a C6 on a day to day basis. More interior and trunk space as well. Plus he doesn’t have to put up with a god awful early 2000s GM interior.

      More money, but you get what you pay for.

  1. I have solid trans mounts in my base 718. I think I bought the 981 models from tarett engineering. With the standard mounts a floor jack under the back end of the trans could move it 1.75 inches before the car moved. That was with 20k miles. Didn’t notice much change in nvh. Improved shifting a lot.

    1. Good to know on the compatibility! I was hoping Porsche would carry over parts as OEMs do to save money. I still need to figure out how to disable any potential error codes because of the active mounts. I hopefully can code out the active mounts as they are an optional feature.

    1. It’s a digital tach. But at least one of the display options is round like an analog tach. Other options include a bar…. graph, I guess you could call it. Which I did not particularly care for on the S2000.

  2. Thank you for the explanations of how the switched water pump works to reduce temp in sport mode! I do have the same idea of leaving it open all the time for cooler operations. I like the idea of plugging the control vacuum line. Do you know where that pump is? I have a 23′ CGTS 4.0. It has the same enhanced cooling feature, and I’d think it has the similar cooling components. Thanks!

    1. I don’t know where it is on the 4.0L 6-cyl, but on the 4-cyl turbo, it’s on the side of the engine next to the passenger compartment bulkhead. I’ve found pictures of where the vacuum line goes and it’s not easy to get to.

      For now, I’m content with just running the car in Sport + mode all of the time. I need to ask someone to see if the water pump still stays closed for faster warm-up from a cold-start even in Sport + mode. I imagine it would in order to reduce emissions. In Sport +, even during track use, I only saw the coolant temp get up to 87C max. I’ll see it fluctuate between 82-86C during everyday driving.

      EPDM rubber is very commonly used in cars for gaskets, o-rings, and coolant tubes. Anything related to the coolant system, EPDM is typical. It commonly comes in two grades, cheaper that is good for 120C and more expensive that is good for 150C. Having worked for a long time in the auto industry and also observing the frequency of water pump failures on modern Porsches, I have it a very high likelyhood the cheaper rubber is used in the water pump. I mean, there’s even a plastic impeller instead of metal. OEMs are looking to save a dollar anywhere they can.

      In Normal mode, it seems the coolant runs between 100-105C. Which is a lot closer to that 120C limit. So my hypothesis is running in Normal degrades the seals and gaskets in the water pump much faster. Plus the engine runs much warmer oil. So after a drive and doing a shutdown, everything is just going to be hotter. But running in Sport + with the coolant only around 85C and oil around 90-95C, the seals should last much longer. Fingers crossed.

  3. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge! I’d think the thermostat should take care of the faster warming up mostly, as it opens up typically at 180-195F (not sure about Porsche cars)? The open water pump will circulate the coolant continuously, but might not affect the oil warm-up much…at least, that’s my theory :).
    Aside from the vacuum controlled water pump you mentioned, there looks to be a vacuum control valve for the coolant going into the engine oil cooler. I don’t know how to add picture here, but if you google ‘718 BOXSTER ENGINE OIL COOLER INLET LINE OEM 98130707500’, you will likely find used parts that show the picture. It looks to be controlling the amount of coolant, or maybe just on/off, going into the engine oil/water exchanger (located on top of the engine, driver side, by the oil filter in the 4.0L)
    I’ll make a spring project to play with vacuum lines and see what happens 🙂

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