Car Enthusiast - click here to access the home page


 



Driven: Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.

Driven: Porsche Cayman S
Stuttgart's 'junior' performance model stuns our man second time around.

   



<< earlier Porsche review     later Porsche review >>

Reviews homepage -> Porsche reviews

| Test Drive | Porsche Cayman S |

Overall rating: 5 5 5 5 5

Good points: absolutely immaculate in every single respect, plus it finally has added soul and its own identity in second-generation guise.
Not so good: umm... it costs quite a bit?

Key Facts

Model tested: Porsche Cayman S (981)
Pricing: £48,783 basic; £64,657 as tested
Engine: 3.4-litre 'boxer' six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door coupé
Rivals: Alfa Romeo 4C, Audi TT RS, Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Coupé
CO2 emissions: 206g/km
Combined economy: 32.1mpg
Top speed: 175mph
0-62mph: 5.0 seconds
Power: 325hp at 7,400rpm
Torque: 370Nm at 4,500- to 5,800rpm

Our view:

This is not only our first extended drive of the second-generation (981) Porsche Cayman S on UK tarmac, but it's also a personal mission for me. You see, I never really liked the first-generation (987) Cayman S. Admired it, certainly, and never doubted the engineering precision required to make a mid-engined coupé handle so adeptly, but it always lacked that extra bit of pizzazz to cement it as an all-time great. It came across as anodyne, despite lengthy time behind the wheel on road, track and at a motoring test facility. This new model, however, has been fêted by all and sundry, and so it seemed appropriate to see how it fares on our roads.

The 'squashed-911' look of the Cayman has never lit my fire either, but in 981 guise it has come of age. Stare too long at the rear haunches from side-on and you can almost convince yourself something's not quite right, but in Racing Yellow on the stunning 20-inch Carrera Classic alloys (£1,700) with the trademark yellow callipers of the Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes (PCCB) peeking through, it's wonderfully lithe and unspoiled by needless addenda. It looks superb from dead-on front and rear, and it's arguably the best-looking car in Porsche's range right now.

The interior is great as well, although this example has the sports bucket seats (£2,226), which make ingress and egress a little more difficult for those of us not built like Allan McNish. Still, they're peerless at holding you in place in all cornering situations and they also prove comfy over longer distances. You sit very low, too, which gives you a great view out with the tops of the front wings framing your vision.

Yet it is on the move where the top-notch quality of the Cayman floors you. The steering is amazing - like running your hands along the tarmac's surface. It's perpetually fizzing, letting you know every tiny nuance and pockmark you're encountering, and it engenders massive confidence. The carbon brakes are predictably mega, while the ride/handling balance is hugely accomplished. The optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM - £971) allows you to firm up the dampers, but the car is so frighteningly commanding in 'normal' mode that anything more focused is surely only for circuit diehards.

And the 3.4-litre engine is sublime. In the 987, it was too subdued, but there's no such concern here. It has three distinct voices, with a menacing burble up to 3,000rpm, a metallic snarl until 5,000rpm and then a spine-tingling, incredible shriek to the 7,500rpm redline. It's also endowed with marvellous throttle response and tacho-wide muscle; it is living proof that forced induction isn't always the answer. The engine is mated to a meaty clutch and chunky gearshift that are both a delight to use.

The result of all the above is that the Porsche can make indecent progress on all roads and in all conditions, making you grin like a goon. Everything comes together and dovetails magnificently, allowing you to revel in chassis dynamics that are nigh-on perfect. There's no other word for it. Will there be a 981 Cayman R? Hmm, good luck with that one, Porsche.

So what can we find fault with? OK, there must be something... ah. Here we are. I must sound like a broken record when it comes to whingeing about options prices - and maybe I'm stuck in 1993, in some kind of a Life on Mars parody - but there's an astonishing £15,874 worth of extras on this vehicle. Although roughly one-third of that is swallowed by PCCB, at £4,977. The resulting car is a few tanks of Super short of £65,000, but do you know what? It doesn't matter. The Cayman S so specified is still great value; and this car comes without cruise or climate control, either.

What's happened with the second generation Cayman is that it has finally found its niche, no longer feeling like a car deliberately hobbled by Porsche to not tread on the 911's toes, but instead proud of its own identity. It is much more visceral than the first generation S, which imbues it with a soul the original sorely lacked. The clinical air of the 987 has gone. What's left is triple-distilled brilliance.

Purity of focus, a good idea well executed... dress it up any way you like, but the long and short of it is that the Cayman S is as near faultless in every department as you could possibly dare hope for. This is how you do a sports car. In fact, this is how you do a car, full stop. It's driving nirvana.

Alternatives:

Audi TT RS: it's quick and grips hard, yet getting on a bit and the Cayman is in another league in terms of driving dynamics.

Alfa Romeo 4C: carbon tub, gorgeous looks, Alfa badge, great performance and price - but not as polished as the Porsche?

Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Coupé: While we're waiting for the BMW M4, the big, charismatic Merc could be an option - costs £58,000 basic, more power, less finesse.


Matt Robinson - 10 Feb 2014



  www.porsche.co.uk    - Porsche road tests
- Porsche news
- Cayman images

2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.

2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.



2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Cayman S. Image by Porsche.
 






 

Internal links:   | Home | Privacy | Contact us | Archives | Old motor show reports | Follow Car Enthusiast on Twitter | Copyright 1999-2022 ©