Then there’s all the vital detail stuff: which wheels should be driven, where should the engine be located and would you prefer manual, paddle shift or automatic gears? Has electric power steering now caught up with hydraulic systems for pure feel? And what about visibility? Can you really enjoy to the full a car that you can’t see out of properly? And what kind of noise should it make? And, yes, I guess I have to let good old power have its say, too, although in fact, when it comes to having fun on four wheels, torque is a far more valuable commodity.
When I fed all of this data into the admittedly somewhat capricious computer between my ears, it didn’t take long for an answer to appear. Although it by no means achieves top scores in every area, it seems, on paper at least, that the Porsche Cayman is the car that scores highest in most areas, emerging in theory in the sweetest of sweet spots that a driver’s car can currently occupy.
Even the less than eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that the particular Cayman we have chosen to illustrate this point is not the current car. It is possible that, even with the controversial fourcylinder engine behind the driver, the current 718 Cayman S could do sufficiently well in other areas to still be considered the optimum driving machine for all the reasons already laid out, but with a Cayman GT4 available to us and every nod, tip and wink we’ve had about the next one suggesting that it, too, will have a normally aspirated six-cylinder engine, it seemed too good an opportunity to ignore.
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Now I know Cayman GT4s still cost way more than they did when new (they start at around £80,000 at the moment) so it’s not going to score highly on the financial accessibility front, but really it’s here to represent the Cayman generally, and if you’re not too fussy about age and mileage, Cayman ownership can be yours for as little as £10,000.
And really it’s the things common to all Caymans that stand out most when you first drive one, even the GT4: the superb all-round visibility, compact dimensions, perfect driving position, comfortable ride and the fact that, with the space in the nose and the hatch behind you, the car is actually very well suited for long journeys and holidays.
It’s light, too, the GT4 tipping the scales at just over 1400kg. That’s not bad for a car toting a 3.8-litre sixcylinder engine. A rear-drive Jaguar F-Type V6S coupé with the same 380bhp weighs almost 1600kg.
What’s clear from all this is that Porsche’s strategy is to get the fundamentals right before doing anything else. Make your car too heavy and you can replace the performance but never the feel. Make it too wide, or too hard to see out of, and, however well you engineer the result, it will be forever hobbled by these shortcomings.