Last week I was up at Silverstone, talking to some loyal readers, attempting to explain to them why the new Porsche Cayman S that I’d been so completely blown away by just a couple of days previously, is as fantastic as it is. They wanted to know how and why, basically, it could be so much better than the previous model, which was in itself more than a little bit tasty.
So I thought about it for a while and then replied; “Two reasons mainly. One, Porsche claims it’s 40 per cent stiffer than before, and that’s phenomenal. Two, at the same time it’s 30kg lighter. And actually there are three reasons, the third being the PDK gearbox that was fitted to the car I drove, which is 110 per cent incredible in what it does.”
One of them, an engineer by trade, had actually driven a previous-generation Cayman not long before, and he simply couldn’t believe that the new car could be 40 per cent stiffer than the old. But the thing is, Porsche doesn’t just make this stuff up. Were the latest Cayman’s shell to be a mere 39.4962 per cent stiffer than of old, then that’s precisely what it would claim.
Porsche, probably more than any other car manufacturer I can think of nowadays, plays with a bat that is straighter than the creases on a Gieves and Hawkes shirt, fresh off the peg. Yet at the same time the attention to detail it pays to what goes on beneath the skin, away from the headlines but where it tends to bear the greatest significance, is unparalleled in my experience. Which is why Porsches tend to be head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to the Things That Matter Most.
And in the new Cayman’s case they, Porsche’s designers, also happen to have cracked it on the styling side of things, too. Which is another reason why, subliminally or otherwise, the new car seems to feel so much better than the old – because it just looks great; looks right. And that’s not something many folks said about its predecessor.
In summary then, the reasons why the new Cayman is such an astonishingly good car are; it is eye-wateringly good to drive, it is heart-thumpingly good to look at, it is technically in another stratosphere compared with most other cars at the same price level, and yet it’s also quicker than before but burns less fuel than its already excellent predecessor.
I feel sorry for Jaguar, though, because unless the new F-Type is two-times-off-the-dial good to drive, it doesn’t stand a chance against a car as well resolved, or as downright brilliant, as the latest Cayman. And that’s before you even mention that it costs 10 grand more in the first place, even in entry-level form.
I hope desperately that I’m proved wrong when we come to compare them in a few weeks’ time. Right now, however, it is genuinely hard to see that being the case.