Porsche Cayman S review

By: Jesse Taylor

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Porsche Cayman S Porsche Cayman S Porsche Cayman S
Porsche Cayman S Porsche Cayman S Porsche Cayman S
Porsche Cayman S Porsche Cayman S Porsche Cayman S
Porsche Cayman S Porsche Cayman S Porsche Cayman S
Porsche Cayman S Porsche Cayman S Porsche Cayman S

Driven: 'Entry-level' Porsche coupe finally steps out of 911's shadow

Porsche Cayman S review
Driven: Porsche Cayman S

 

Porsche Cayman S 

Two thousand and thirteen is shaping up as a hell of a year for performance cars. Between now and when Santa arrives, we’ll see the release of the Porsche 918 Spyder, 911 GT3, 911 Turbo, Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Renaultsport Clio, Volkswagen Golf GTI and the HSV range of VF Commodores. Even with that parade of awesome metal to come, the secondgeneration Porsche Cayman S will remain right at the pointy end of best driver’s cars launched this year.

At the Cayman’s international launch in southern Portugal, two-time World Rally Champion and driving legend Walter Rohrl said "On dry roads, the Cayman S is the maximum car we have". He went on to explain that the friendlier, mid-engined balance of the Cayman makes it easier for the average driver to extract everything from it, where the rear-engined 911 requires greater skill.

This is highlighted in the relative Nurburgring lap times of the Cayman S and 991 Carrera S. Despite a 55kW advantage to the Carrera S (and wider tyres), it’s just 17 seconds faster around the fearsome 21km circuit. Seventeen seconds might sound like a lot, but that’s just 0.8 seconds for every kilometre of the world’s toughest track.

Rohrl is certain drivers of lesser talent would be quicker in the more benign (but still hugely entertaining) Cayman.

Like the 991 911 and 981 Boxster, the new Cayman’s body-in-white is a hybrid of aluminium (44 percent) and various grades of steel. The result is a 47kg reduction for the body (30kg for the total vehicle) and a 40 percent increase in torsional rigidity.

The wheelbase has been stretched 60mm to 2475mm (25mm longer than the 911) and the front overhang has been reduced by 26mm. Front track is pushed out by 40mm and the rear by 12mm. The base Cayman now runs 18-inch alloys, 19s for the S and 20s are optional on both models.

On road or track, this translates to stunning handling and a noticeable step-up over the already-excellent, first-generation Cayman. The front end remains glued to the road, and despite the switch to electromechanical steering, the driving experience is alive. High-speed direction changes require the merest roll of the wrists. The body control is absolute, even at maximum attack. But even on optional 20s, the ride remains supple. Get on the throttle early and it is possible to overwhelm rear grip for entertaining and easily-controlled slides.

Whether fitted with the standard steel rotors (330mm front/299mm rear) or the optional carbon ceramic discs (350mm front and rear), the Cayman S stops consistently hard with easy-to-modulate pedal pressure.

As with both Boxster S and base 911, the Cayman S is powered by a 3.4-litre flat six. With 239kW at 7400rpm and 370Nm from 4500-5800rpm, the Cayman S has a 7kW/10Nm advantage over the equivalent Boxster and is just 18kW/20Nm short of the Carrera. Porsche claims a manual S takes five-dead to hit 100km/h, 4.9 with PDK or 4.7 with PDK and Sports Chrono.

The Cayman’s six-speed manual has a tighter and more positive action than the seven-speeder in the 911. For the first time in a Porsche, the manual features an auto blip function on downshifts when you’ve optioned Sports Chrono. It works brilliantly but it denies you the reward of a well-executed heel-and-toe downshift.

On sale in Australia in late April, the Cayman starts from $115,500 for the manual and $120,800 for the PDK. While a mere $400 increase over the previous-gen base car, it’s an $8500 hike over the Boxster. The manual Cayman S kicks off at $150,400, or $155,700 for the PDK – a $2900 increase over the old car and $17,100 more than a Boxster S.

Porsche is acutely aware of this observation and Hans-Jurgen Wohler, Director Product Line Boxster/Cayman counters by saying: "The Cayman is not a Boxster coupe – it’s much sportier."

As Sir Walter says, it’s the maximum.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Porsche Cayman S

Engine: 3436cc flat-6, DOHC, 24v
Power: 239kW @ 7400rpm
Torque: 370Nm @ 4500-5800rpm
Weight: 1320kg
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
0-100Km/h: 5.0sec (claimed)
Top speed: 283km/h (claimed)
Price: $150,400

 

*****

More reviews:

> Buyer's Guide: Porsche Cayman S review here

 

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