If you’re expecting the Porsche Cayman R to represent a transformation relative to the Cayman S, look away. The most revealing stat about the R is not its extra power, or lower weight, but the difference in price. The cost of changing the badge of your Cayman from ‘S’ to ‘R’ is less than a set of ceramic brakes.

Of course it’s not as simple as that. For while that extra outlay adds another 10bhp and loses 54kg, so must you pay extra for the air-conditioning and radio that are standard in the S.

Even so, when you tot up all the changes, including aluminium doors, a limited slip differential, new front and rear aero package, sports seats and the lightest wheels fitted to any Porsche, it's clear that the Cayman R represents proper value.

Interesting too that this is the first Cayman with a superior power-to-weight ratio than a 911. The R has a 10bhp/tonne advantage over a Carrera (and a better torque-to-weight advantage) so its apparently slower 0-62mph time is either due to the 911’s traction advantage or a bit of strategic positioning. In the real world the Cayman R is clearly the quicker car.

To drive it feels as you’d imagine - slightly but significantly sharper than the S, itself a supersonically able and engaging performer. To be honest you feel the weight saving and performance gain less than the suspension mods: it’s 22mm lower with firmer springs and dampers and comes with 40 per cent more downforce on the rear axle and 15 per cent up front.

So it corners flatter and faster with no loss of that sublime Cayman steering feel. There’s more understeer in slower corners than I remember – almost certainly a function of the differential – but it’s easily cancelled with a lift and worth it for the phenomenal traction it provides.

The Porsche Cayman R will disappoint only if you’re expecting it to be a game changer or cut-price GT3. Though it would be nice to append those titles to it, it is nothing of the sort. It is merely the best Cayman yet, which is all the praise it, or you, should need.

Top 5 Sport coupes

  • Porsche Cayman
    The Porsche Cayman is now in its second generation

    Porsche Cayman

  • The stated criteria for the GT86 read like a purist's manifesto: rear-drive, no turbo, ordinary tyres

    Toyota GT86

  • BMW M235i
    The BMW M235i is a rear-wheel-drive turbocharged coupé which rivals the likes of the Porsche Cayman

    BMW M235i

  • Costliest car gets the deftest chassis to ever underpin a TT - the best reason yet to buy into Audi’s coupe.

    Audi TTS

  • Peugeot RCZ R
    The front-drive RCZ R packs a 266bhp turbocharged engine

    Peugeot RCZ R



Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    27 November 2015
    We try the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol version of the Golf Bluemotion. If you're not doing mega miles, it's a better bet than the diesel
  • 2015 Mercedes-AMG A45
    First Drive
    27 November 2015
    Mercedes couldn't let the Audi RS3 get away with having more power than its AMG A45. As part of a wholesale A-Class facelift, it now has 376bhp and a host of other revisions
  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    More powerful Clubsport version of Volkswagen's iconic hot hatch proves thoroughly entertaining on our track-only first drive in Portugal
  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    Suzuki has added an automatic diesel powertrain to its S-Cross crossover line-up. Does it offer a compelling choice over the manual versions?
  • First Drive
    24 November 2015
    Alpina’s D3 saloon and estate benefit from the latest BMW 3 Series updates. We've always loved it, but is it still as beguiling as ever in this latest form?