What is it?
The new Porsche Cayman, in all its glory and in the UK for the first time. Aside from putting the steering wheel on the correct side, not much has been altered for the coupé’s channel crossing so we’ll gloss over the salient details.
Suffice it to say that Porsche’s UK line-up will start at £39,694 for a base 271bhp 2.7-litre car, and rise to £48,783 for the 320bhp Cayman S driven here.
For many if not most, those prices will be jumping-off points for the kind of option-box ticking that keeps the brand in the black; our test car, equipped with extras such as Active Suspension Management, mechanical rear locking diff, carbon-ceramic brakes and bucket seats, came to £64,374.
In contrast to the seven-speed PDK S model we drove abroad, this car also featured the six-speed manual gearbox, with detrimental effect to both performance and efficiency. In stick-shift form 0-62mph slows to 5.0sec from 4.7 while CO2 emissions grow to 206g/km from 188.
What's it like?
Heavenly. Believe everything you’ve heard: this is a dazzling car and as impressive here in the UK as it is abroad and, incredibly, markedly superior to the exceptional Cayman that passed before.
The key to its success on these shores, as always, is a remarkable brand of ride comfort. With the new platform delivering a 40 per cent improvement in rigidity, the suspension has been freed up to better manage the road surface – and it shows.
Leave Porsche’s adaptive dampers in their normal setting (Sport is overly firm for road use) and deflections which must be registering as seismic impacts through the optional 20-inch wheels are cajoled into supple surface detail by the time they reach your seatback.It’s a brand of compliancy and control worthy of measure against the benchmarks currently set by Lotus and McLaren.
Better still, the coupé will accomplish this feat under the intense scrutiny of mid-corner load without surrendering a millimetre of body control. That kind of bump and crest fluidity, taken together with the better mid-range blitz of the 3.4-litre flat-six (harnessed here by that snappy six-speed manual ’box) makes the Cayman S a devastatingly fast British B-road hustler.
Whether or not it’s preferable to the 2.7-litre car is a matter of personal preference. It’s less effort to make very swift progress in the S, drawing from an extra 60ft lb of torque at 4500rpm, but perhaps a little less fun to redline.
Flat-out on the road, the extra performance afforded by its higher overall output is arguably too often defined by the requirement to ease off. As the Cayman’s uncanny ability to flaunt both dependability and waywardness in the same moment is best enjoyed at maximum attack, it’s easy to see the upside in the base model’s £9000 saving.
Should I buy one?
Lord, yes. The Cayman’s most famous attributes – its scary out-of-the-box usability and capacity for coaxing spell-bound participation out of any driver – have dramatically escalated with the extra stability afforded by the longer wheelbase and incredible front-end assurance delivered by a wider track.
The seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox will be the more popular choice (particularly in the S) but we’d recommend sticking with the manual. The six-speeder will chide you if you get lazy with the hefty thrusts required by the long-travel clutch, but otherwise it’s an endlessly rewarding– and gloriously mechanical – way to interact with the Cayman.
The quality of that relationship is all-important because every enthusiastic driver input is returned by the car with interest. The difficulty in perfecting such a rewarding balance could hardly be overstated, yet Porsche has mainlined it into the Cayman’s dynamic identity with the sang-froid virtuosity of a barrel-rolling Red Arrow. And that much will be true whether you opt for the riotous 2.7-litre car or the muscular S model.
Porsche Cayman S
Price £48,783; 0-62mph 5.0sec; Top speed 175mph; Economy 32.1mpg (combined); CO2 206g/km; Kerb weight 1320kg; Engine 6-cyls horizontally-opposed, 3436cc, petrol; Installation mid, longitudinal, RWD; Power 320bhp at 7400rpm; Torque 270lb ft at 4500-5800rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual