The first time I saw the all new Porsche Cayman was in Los Angeles just before Christmas. I was tottering rather unsteadily from my favourite restaurant Shanghai Reds on the Marina del Rey, after a rather lengthy lunch with far too much Californian red! My host for the day had parked conveniently next to it, and through my drink-induced haze found myself spellbound by the Cayman’s sexy, neat and rather chic outline. I wasn’t alone either, men of all persuasions would cock a sidewise glance as they passed, obviously impressed by their first glimpse of Porsche’s new mid-engined coupé.
Now available here in the UK, I wanted to find out if this new sporty two-seater was more than just a Boxster with a lid? Both cars appear mechanically so similar, the Cayman S could easily have been called the Boxster Coupé, saving Porsche all the bother of coming up with another name; which in this case was lifted from an alligator indigenous to a warmer climate. Even Porsche have been at pains to point out that ‘to classify the Cayman S as merely the coupé version of the Boxster does a dis-service to both cars, each of which is unique with its own special characteristics.’
So, do both cars taste the same, or are they of a completely different flavour? Either way the Cayman S is a delicacy, my bright yellow car was littered with extras, but almost everything you need comes as standard: six airbags should the worst happen, tight fitting and beautifully crafted leather seats and Porsche’s stability management system which is one of the best and least intrusive stability systems around. The build quality is exceptional and inside everything just feels right – in its proper place.
When you slide into the driver’s seat, like the Boxster, the steering wheel feels overly large at first, but feels perfect immediately you hit the road – and hit the road you do! The Cayman S comes with a mid mounted, 24 valve, 3.4 litre, six cylinder engine that pumps out 295 horse power through a six speed manual gearbox – which is an absolute delight. It’s nearly as fast as Porsches 355 bhp 911 Carrera S, and simply leaves the Boxster standing!
The flat six storms towards its 7200 rpm redline as fast as the rev counter can tot up the numbers, with 0-60 taking less than 5 seconds and its standing quarter mile in a fraction over 13 seconds at 105 mph. It tops out at 170 mph but feels it could go even further. Well actually it can, Porsche claim 171 mph!
Porsche claim the Cayman’s coupé body is 100% stiffer than their open topped Boxster; it feels more! The result is an astonishingly athletic machine that delivers an exceptional ride, with little discernable body roll, turn-in is always tight, and mid corner bumps just get soaked up without any drama. You can drive this car across country and down dale in complete comfort or as fast as you dare around twisty country lanes with complete confidence. Toss it about and this Cayman feels just right, glued to the road yet light on its feet. Wow! There’s loads of grip, the stability control system knows when to show up, and when to leave you to your own devices, she steers exactly where you want to go and the big vented disc brakes do what they are supposed to do – decelerate so quickly your nose nearly comes off its mount.
I love the Caymans haunches, the bulging bodywork that stretches tightly over her rear wheels. If styling is all that matters, the Porsche Cayman holds its own beautifully – her trim shape striking the perfect balance between a well toned athlete and the sensuous curves that define the current generation of Porsche’s. Love it or hate it, you’re going to think differently after you drive her.
Prices start at around £44250 so she’s not cheap, but you won’t feel short changed either. Ignore the slight over-jelly like top, and you’ll be in love I promise.
Copyright: Simon Lawrence