Review: Porsche Cayman

Poor man’s 911? Don’t believe it.

In fact, until the 991 911 range is filled out with the superstar Turbo and GT models, the second-generation Cayman S is the most focused and fun car Porsche currently makes.

The international launch of the new Cayman was held on the challenging, and occasionally glass-slippery, roads of southern Portugal. Throw in a morning on the demanding roller coaster turns of the Autodromo Internacional Algarve, and you’ve got a recipe for serious fun.

In full attack spec (seven-speed PDK, carbon ceramic brakes, Sports Chrono etc), a Cayman S has lapped the 21km Nurburgring in 7:55; that’s 11 seconds faster than the previous model and just 15 seconds off the time set by the 991 Carrera S.

For those not mathematically inclined, that’s seven-tenths of a second slower per kilometre on the world’s most demanding race track. Around somewhere like Wakefield Park, the difference would be non-existent.

The entry-level Cayman adopts the 2.7-litre flat-six also used by the base Boxster, but has 7kW more grunt with 202kW at 7400rpm. Torque is up 10Nm over Boxster with 290Nm from 4500-6500rpm.

The six-speed manual hits 100km/h in 5.7 seconds, while the optional seven-speed PDK does in 5.6 or 5.4 when optioned with launch control-enabling Sports Chrono. The Cayman S runs a 239kW 3.4-litre flat six, which is up 7kW on the Boxster S and down 18kW on the 3.4 of the base 911. There’s 370Nm, again up 10Nm on the Boxster S and down 20Nm on the base Carrera. Equipped with a stick shift, the Cayman S hit 100km/h in five dead, 4.9 with PDK or 4.7 with Sports Chrono. The manual S is now knocking on the door of junior supercardom with a 283km/h top speed (281 for the PDK).

But like most Porsche, the Cayman is not about numbers. Instead, it’s about a communicative driving experience and the new car (especially the S) is brilliant. It stays flat during hard cornering, it has an amazingly supple ride (even on optional 20-inch alloys) and it goes very hard. Oh, and it sounds stunning.

On sale in Australia in late April, the Cayman starts at $115,500 for the six-speed manual (the seven-speed PDK base car costs $120,800) – an increase of just $400 over the old entry-level model. The six-speed manual lists at $150,400 (up $2900), with the PDK a further $5300. The elephant in the showroom is the price difference over the mechanically similar (but not identical) Boxster and Boxster S models. Respectively, the new Cayman and Cayman S are $8500 and $17,100 pricier than the Boxster models. There are some spec difference (marginally more power and torque), but some will see the difference as a price gouge.

UK publication Autocar, while noting the price disparity, said the Cayman S is the world’s best value sportscar. We’d agreed and suggest there are very few better cars no matter what the cost.

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