The old Cayman was close to perfection. The new Porsche Cayman S is even closer
Manual transmission remains the gearbox of choice for the Porsche Cayman S
62mph can now be achieved in 4.9sec with a PDK equipped Porsche Cayman S
Spring rates, dampers and anti-roll bar settings all remaing the same in the Porsche Cayman S
Porsche Cayman S still has no rear seats but there's plenty of room in the boot
PDK gearbox is far superior than the tiptronic it replaces
PDK cars get a smaller-diameter, thicker-rimmed steering wheel that changes the feel of the steering
CO2 emissions have been reduced to 223g/km in the new Porsche Cayman S
Porsche's dual-clutch seven-speed PDK gearbox is available on the Porsche Cayman S
Handling remains the same, communicative and adjustable
New limited-slip differential is an option box worth ticking
The sound from the new Porsche Cayman S is much sweeter, like an old 911
The revised Porsche Cayman S is available with new wheel designs
Front and rear bumpers have both been restyled for the new Porsche Cayman S
The base 2.7-litre engine has been enlarged to 2.9-litres, but retains conventional fuel injection
3.4-litre engine gets direct injection and an extra 25bhp
What is it?
This is the new Porsche Cayman S, Weissach’s mid-engined two-seat coupe getting a mid-life refresh.
Cosmetically there is not much to differentiate new Porsche Cayman from old. It gets restyled light units and bumpers both front and back, plus new wheel designs.
Mechanically, though, there is more to get excited about. Both Caymans get revised engines with more power, improved economy and lower emissions.
The base Cayman’s 2.7-litre flat six is enlarged to 2.9 litres and retains conventional fuel injection, while the Cayman S tested here keeps its 3.4-litre capacity, but with the addition of direct injection and an extra 25bhp.
Both engines are from the same family of new flat-sixes recently introduced on the 911.
The Cayman also now gets Porsche’s dual-clutch seven-speed PDK gearbox, along with the option of launch control. For those wishing to change gear themselves, both models get a six-speed manual.
The five-speed ’box previously standard on the base Cayman has been discontinued.
Although the Cayman’s suspension architecture is unaltered, spring rates, dampers and anti-roll bar settings have been tweaked to match the increased performance. The steering control value has also been changed to reduce steering effort at low speeds.
The most controversial, and potentially gratifying, update is Porsche’s decision to finally offer the Cayman with the option of a limited-slip differential, something it has previously said the car did not require.
What’s it like?
Excellent. The Cayman S was pretty near perfection to start with, and now it’s even closer. The new engine feels a lot stronger than the additional 25bhp Porsche claims, particularly through the mid range.
In the new 911, direct injection has detracted from the flat six’s character, making it quieter and less meaty.
Quite the opposite is true with the new Cayman S. It not only goes harder, but also sounds much sweeter. More like an old 911 in fact.
A PDK Cayman S equipped with launch control is able to go from 0-62mph in 4.9sec. That’s exactly the same as that of a Carrera 3.6.
Since the Cayman was first launched Porsche has been careful to ensure that the Cayman doesn’t upstage the 911 Perhaps with the latest Carrera now occupying a more rounded role, Porsche is finally allowing the Cayman to fulfil its potential.
As for the PDK ’box, it is a technically excellent gearbox let down by the counterintuitive positioning of its shift controls. If you want an automatic, the PDK is so superior to the old Tiptronic that the two are not worthy of comparison.
However, PDK does rob some of the mechanical interaction that makes driving a Cayman such a joyous thing. The manual transmission might be the technically inferior solution, but it remains the gearbox of choice.
Answering questions about its policy u-turn on the limited-slip differential, Porsche was deliberately evasive.
Whatever the reason, we’re thankful for the outcome, because it makes the Cayman S a sharper, more involving car, with improved traction out of corners and no hint of additional understeer. At £737 it’s an option worth ticking.
In other respects the Cayman handles pretty much as it always did: balanced, communicative and adjustable, and with a composed and comfortable ride.
The only question mark hovers over the steering, which doesn’t feel quite so peachy.
This could be as a result of changes to the steering assistance, but it could be down to the fact that PDK cars get a smaller-diameter, thicker-rimmed wheel than manuals.
Should I buy one?
We’re under no illusion that Porsche wants a great deal of money for a Cayman S.
But then, a base Carrera is a lot more expensive and arguably not as accomplished. For anyone in the market for a two-seat sports car, the Cayman S remains the benchmark.