| Week at the Wheel | Porsche Cayman S |
Inside & Out:
The Cayman is a car that divides opinion on its styling. We're firmly in the 'like' camp, particularly with the example you see here. The Ruby Red metallic paintwork might be a £589 option, but it's money well spent. The deep metallic colour shows off the Cayman's shape to brilliant effect, providing rich contrast and highlighting the flowing curves of the coupé's shape. Add 19-inch 911 Turbo wheels - at a rather eye-watering £2,241 - and the overall effect is one of the nicest looking Caymans we've ever seen here at Car Enthusiast
Porsche's people didn't scrimp on the options inside, adding ventilated, heated and electrically adjusted seats covered in leather; carbon interior trim; satnav with Porsche communication management; and a Sport Chrono pack. Standard seats would do, and we could live without the leather, but the satnav is a must, even if repeated attempts to get the Bluetooth to talk to an Apple iPhone were fruitless - something we've experienced in all Porsches. The cabin is comfortable, with excellent visibility, decent space and luggage compartments front and rear. If you don't need the rear seats of a Porsche 911, then you don't need a 911.
Engine & Transmission:
Forget all that nonsense about the Cayman being a poor relative to the 911. In S guise it comes with a 3.4-litre flat six that's one of the sweetest versions of the famous Porsche boxer engine. Putting out 320bhp and 273lb.ft of torque, it gets the Cayman S to 62mph in 5.2 seconds and onto a 172mph top speed. It may not be the fastest or most powerful car in its class, but it's the sweetest, the flexible engine delivering its performance in a very linear fashion with instantaneous response and a rousing soundtrack to match.
That engine is mounted in the right place too (i.e. the middle of the car) and in this car it's mated to the right transmission - a six-speed manual. Few gearboxes shift with the slick precision of a Porsche manual, the six-speeder quick through its gate and easily modulated with the light, easy clutch. This generation of Cayman is also offered with Porsche's impressive two-pedal PDK automatic. At a push we'd concede the auto is a good choice if you're going to spend 90 percent of your time in traffic, but only if you have it with the paddle shifters that will be made available from early 2010. If you really want to enjoy the Cayman S at its best only a manual will do in our opinions.
Ride & Handling:
With its engine mid-mounted the Cayman S offers near perfect weight distribution. That's clear on the road, where the Cayman S exhibits beautiful poise and balance. Friendlier and easier to drive than a 911, but no less rewarding, the Cayman S is rightfully proclaimed as one of the world's finest handling cars.
The suspension - equipped with the optional PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) here - delivers supreme wheel and body control. The ride is firm but never harsh, the steering offering the right blend of weight and feel. It's one of those cars you immediately feel right in, the feedback, precision and control it offers allowing you to exploit its ample performance with absolute confidence. Anyone saying the Cayman S isn't as good as a 911 clearly hasn't driven one - as it's actually the better car.
Equipment, Economy & Value for Money:
Around £44,000 will buy you a standard Cayman S, one of the finest sports cars you can buy. The temptation will be to add a few choice options: Porsche's Sport Chrono pack, PASM and the communication module with satnav are musts, as is fully automatic climate control. Add some leather, a choice paint colour and some nicer wheels and you'll easily be in the realm of the £50,000-£55,000 Cayman S.
Perilously close to a 911? Yes, but the Cayman S is the better drive and you'd need to add a similar premium in kit to the 911 - leaving the price differential the same as ever. Good value? Ultimately that depends on your viewpoint, but we think so. Economy is decent given the performance, Porsche quoting a combined economy figure of 29.7mpg and CO2
emissions of 223g/km.
If we've been gushing over this Cayman S it's because it's worthy of it. Many pour scorn on the Cayman for its push-me-pull-me styling and the fact it's not a 911. Ignore that - 911 GT3
and new 911 Turbo
aside it's the best car Porsche builds, and by virtue one of the best sports cars available. It's a pleasure to drive whether you're on it, or just going to the shops, the Cayman S a pure, always enjoyable driving experience. If the odd jibe for it not being a 911 is the price of ownership of one of the most involving, interesting driving experiences available today, then that's one we'd be only too happy to pay.