From £39,162
Entry-level Cayman is predictably brilliant

Our Verdict

Porsche Cayman 2005-2013
Is it a Boxster with a fixed roof or a mini 911?

Is the Porsche Cayman a Boxster with a fixed roof or a mini 911?

19 February 2009

What is it?

It’s the entry-level Porsche Cayman in its revised form, with its engine upped in size to 2.9 litres. This increase in capacity not only brings another 21bhp and 20lb ft of torque compared with the previous 2.7-litre base Cayman but also slightly improved performance and reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Although it misses out on the direct injection fitted to the latest Cayman S, the regular Cayman now gets a six-speed manual gearbox rather than the poverty-spec five-speeder fitted to the previous car. And there’s nothing stopping you from adding desirable options such as Porsche’s new seven-speed PDK gearbox and a limited-slip diff, same as the Cayman S.

What’s it like?

We’ve said previously that the latest Cayman S is pretty close to sports car perfection, and the less powerful Cayman isn’t far behind. Where the old five-speed 2.7 sometimes felt slightly lacking (in both outright performance and its ratio count), the 2.9 is quick enough to keep most drivers happy.

To be honest, its performance is still nothing startling – rival coupes such as the Audi TTS and BMW 135i Coupe are quicker off the line and more flexible in their power delivery – but the Cayman makes the most of what it’s got, and the result is a very satisfying package.

A lot of that is down to its sweet handling and tactile steering, which are on a different level from its German rivals and more than make up for any deficit in performance (though you wouldn’t ever call it slow, with a 0-62mph time of 5.8sec).

On standard suspension the Cayman’s ride can be quite jiggly at low speeds (despite the fact that our test car was riding on standard 17in wheels). But it comes right at higher speeds, where the Cayman displays astonishing poise and suppleness, seemingly irrespective of the road surface below. Extending the engine and probing the limits of the Cayman’s idiotproof chassis add up to an unusually cohesive and rewarding experience, especially considering how usable the Cayman is day to day.

The new six-speed manual gearbox is very welcome too. As well as removing the nagging ‘poor relation’ feeling that you got with the old five-speed Cayman, the new ’box brings a more ideal set of gear ratios (for both cross-country and motorway cruising use) and a typically lovely gearshift action. The optional PDK ’box is a far better alternative to the old Tiptronic auto if you must have a two-pedal layout (and helps the 0-62 time and CO2 output), but it’s hard to imagine it being more satisfying than the regular manual version.

The only real disappointment is the way the Cayman sounds. There’s a bit of induction howl under hard acceleration that dies away all too quickly as you ease off, but for the majority of the time the engine is just too quiet, whining away behind the cabin. A shouty sports exhaust would seem to be the answer – and it might also distract your attention from the amount of road noise the car generates. There’s a surprising number of rumbles and thumps, especially on the motorway, which could detract from the Cayman’s cruising ability.

Should I buy one?

Although the 2.9 Cayman won’t blow your socks off with its performance, it is now well enough endowed to make you question whether there’s any need to spend an extra £8k on a Cayman S. And unlike the previous 2.7 with its five-speed ’box, there’s nothing obvious to suggest that it’s a lesser model than the S, so you’re unlikely to ever feel short-changed if you can’t stretch to the 3.4-litre model.

In the end the S is probably a slightly more complete car, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed with such a rewarding driver’s car as the 2.9 Cayman.

Join the debate

Comments
11

19 February 2009

In the real world, this is probably the pick of the bunch.

Decent CO2, good performance (the only reason 0-60 in 5.8 feels slow is because the chassis is so good), and at £37k, a bit of a bargain.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

19 February 2009

I don't get this obsession with it having 6 speeds. It has more to do with bragging rights than real world driving. My 2.7 Cayman with it's 5 speed box has the best gearchange of anything I have ever driven, better than most 6 speed Porsche boxes I have tried.

19 February 2009

McJohn why didnt you but the boxter?

6th speed simply for usability everyday i.e. motorway work

20 February 2009

[quote McJohn]I don't get this obsession with it having 6 speeds.[/quote]

It's for a purely practical reason in this case, CO2 emissions. With out the six speed box they wouldn't have got the exceptional (well, exceptional for a car that does 0-60 in 5.8 seconds whilst not being a light weight like the Elise) figure they have.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

20 February 2009

[quote TegTypeR]

It's for a purely practical reason in this case, CO2 emissions. With out the six speed box they wouldn't have got the exceptional figure they have.

[/quote]

Quite the contrary in fact. On the 2.7 model, the 5 speed car has a lower CO than the 6 speed, in fact it takes it into a lower taxation class.

As for motorway driving, the 5 speed and 6 speed boxes have pretty much the same final gearing, so that's not an argument either.

20 February 2009

The Cayman combines engineering quality, superb road manners, fine driver controls and ride comfort to make a terrific, if expensive, driver's car.

=============

Liza

<a href="


http://www.getthatjobuk.com">

get that job uk
</a>

SDR

20 February 2009

[quote McJohn]I don't get this obsession with it having 6 speeds.[/quote]

Hmm... you see, I wouldn't entertain buying anything other than a budget car without 6 speeds. It amazes me that Porsche continued to offer 5 speed Boxsters/Caymans until now - appalling cheapness.

Six speeds allows you to do one of two things relative to five - either add a gear on top of fifth to make high speed cruising more refined and economical (by reducing engine speed for a given road speed), or stack gears more closely together and so be able to spend a greater proportion of time in the part of the rev band where an engine makes most power when you're pressing on (or, I suppose if you're trying to be super-economical, it allows you to change up to the next gear earlier, because it's closer). I think most sixes replacing fives tend to do a bit of both.

I'm sure there are engineering geniuses who will be able to provide a much better technical explanation of the advantages of six speeds, but to deny they exist seems a little.... flat earthy! :o/

The five speed shift in your Cayman may be better than the six you've driven, but if that is the case it's a reflection of the engineering of those two gearboxes - there's no reason why having one fewer gear would necessarily make the shift better. Try a Honda S2000 - six speeds, best shift I've ever encountered (much better than a six speed 911, that's for sure...)

23 February 2009

Interesting comments.

I seriously considered a 2.7 when I chose my last company car back in 2007. I had 2 extended test drives and overall really loved the driving experience but in the end decided I couldn't live with the jiggly ride and also the continuous road noise - a lot of my mileage is covered on the motorway.

In the end I went for a BMW 330 Coupe and whilst it is no Porsche have never regretted my decision. I could live with the Cayman foibles if it was an occasional car but not as an only car for every day use.

24 February 2009

[quote TegTypeR]

It's for a purely practical reason in this case, CO2 emissions. With out the six speed box they wouldn't have got the exceptional (well, exceptional for a car that does 0-60 in 5.8 seconds whilst not being a light weight like the Elise) figure they have.

[/quote]

Not sure the figure of 221g/km is actually that exceptional; by comparison, the (heavier) 330i BMW coupe is 173g/km and even the 335i is "only" 218g/km. However, I doubt people buying that sort of car at that sort of money will have CO2 emissions as their top priority; it may well be a factor if all other things are equal but if saving on road tax and appearing to be green are that important to you then a three litre petrol sports coupe costing £36k probably isn't your car!

24 February 2009

[quote TegTypeR]In the real world, this is probably the pick of the bunch.[/quote]

What does this mean? Sounds like babble. "In the real world"? Eh? Aren't we all in the real world. "Pick of the bunch"? Double eh? It's the Cayman or the Cayman S : small bunch.

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