If you’re looking to buy a compact sports car, you’d have a tough time finding two better candidates than the BMW M2 and the Porsche 718 Cayman S. But the question is, what’s the most important factor when it comes to making a decision as to which one to buy? Would it be the overall performance of the car as well as the lap times it lays down at the local track? Or would you be willing to sacrifice a second or two on your hot lap to increase the overall fun factor behind the wheel of the car?
There has been an underlying rivalry between BMW M Division and Porsche, as well as the diehard enthusiasts of each, for quite some time now. Both feel as if their cars provide the ultimate driving experience and each goes about it using completely different methods. In the case of the M2 and the 718, the only similarities between the two are that each have turbochargers and they’re both rear wheel drive. Interestingly though, purists from each camp completely disagree with the choice of using the forced induction systems, but unfortunately it’s a sign of the times.
The 718 Cayman S uses a turbocharged 2.5L flat four that’s mid-mounted to help provide a better center of gravity. It produces 350hp and 310lb-ft of torque which equates to 0-60 times of approximately 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 177mph. Where the 718 really shines is when you get it on the track. It weighs in at just 3,152 lbs, which makes it feel incredibly nimble yet planted when you get it in the corners.
The BMW M2 has received all sorts of accolades since it was released in 2015. Many people feel it’s the best M car on the road today and is slowly working its way to the iconic status of the M3. Under the hood of the M2 sits a turbocharged 3.0L inline six that while technically isn’t a true “M” engine, still produces 365hp and 343lb-ft of torque. That may only be a 15hp and 33lb-ft increase over the Porsche, but apparently it’s quite a noticeable difference, especially in the torque department. However, where the M2 falls short is in the weight category due to carrying around an additional 309lbs more than the Cayman. Performance wise the M2 can rip from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds and can run up to a top speed of 155mph before the electronic nannies step in.
When it comes down to lap times, the guys at PistonHeads took examples of each out to the Blyton Park race track for good old track day session. The end result with the lap times might be predictable, but maybe not as much as you think. The M2’s best lap was 1.13.5 and the Cayman S managed to shave almost a full 2.5 seconds off that time with a 1.11.1. However, it was also blatantly obvious that they driver of the M2 was having more fun behind the wheel, especially because he repeatedly said so.
There’s one other variable to put into consideration, and I’ll admit it’s a major one. That’s the cost of each vehicle. The standard MSRP for the M2 is $51,700 and if you check every available option it can get up over $65,000. The 718 Cayman S has an MSRP of $66,300, and once you start adding options it quickly gets up into the $85,000 range. I’ve included the video where I pulled those lap times and it was shot in the United Kingdom and should be noted that they list the Cayman’s MSRP as £48,834 and the as-tested price as £67,656. The M2 was listed with the MSRP as £44,070 and the as tested at just £46,715. Point being that the lap times are somewhat jaded because the Cayman had every bell and whistle available for the test and the M2 had very minimal option boxes checked.
In the end it comes down to this, what’s more appealing when it comes to buying a car? Is it the lightning quick Cayman S with the far better lap times and enormous price tag? Or is it the more powerful, yet slower M2 that’s believed to be significantly more fun to drive both on the track as well as everyday situations, and costs significantly less?