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We put the 320bhp Porsche Cayman S through its paces on UK roads

Our Verdict

Porsche Cayman

The two-seat Porsche coupé has a lot to live up to. Can it cope?

Nic Cackett
28 March 2013

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

 

Join the debate

Comments
21

28 March 2013

Nick Cakett wrote:

...It’s a brand of compliancy and control worthy of measure against the benchmarks currently set by Lotus and McLaren....

Worthy of meaure against the benchmarks set by Lotus and MacLaren? Surely you jest Mr. Cackett! No way is the Cayman worthy of such comparison.

28 March 2013

If you could spell McLaren correctly or had driven the car I suppose we could take your comments seriously. As I'd bet you haven't driven a McLaren, God knows who apart from road testers have driven a Lotus in the last ten years so let's assume you haven't either,  not sure where you are coming from?

28 March 2013

Quote:

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.

what the hell is he trying to say now? Personally I think he should conglutinate the pages of his book of synonyms and commence an investigation for an occupation to which he is more beseemed.

Also, optional accessories are responsible for keeping Porsche out of the red? Yeah right. Sure they are.

28 March 2013

... Now that I've quill-penned sumptuously glowing reports about your magnificent sports vehicles, may I have one?

Your obedient and humble servant,

Nic Cackett

28 March 2013

i dont want to compare new car with old but for 50k i think i can get a turbo 911.

28 March 2013

Wait for an erotic comment from GermanPower. Tissues at the ready when he has an 'accident'.

28 March 2013

I spent a day driving a new 2.7 Cayman last week (sadly with PDK) and I'd have to agree with pretty much everything that Nic says, beseemed or otherwise. Sensational car.  

28 March 2013

Hi John, have you compared with the 2013 Evora? (the Naturally Aspired's one).

I think my choice will go towards the Evora, the interior is now at very high standard and most reviewers (check on youtube, it seems as a fantastic car).

The Porsche is too 'german' for me, the Lotus is a proper exotic but usable everyday. I like having emergency seats at the back too.

 

The latest review of the Evora against the 991 by R&T magazine is a jewel to read. It says everything.

 

(I'm an ex Lotus Elise S1 driver)

Fred

28 March 2013

Fred wrote:

Hi John, have you compared with the 2013 Evora?

I confess I have never driven an Evora, for several reasons. I have looked at one, sat in it and studied the quality, but unlike my Porsche dealer who is happy to lend me demo cars, the snotty kid who sells Loti up here still has a 1970's attitude towards would be customers, so I did not even ask for a drive. However, even looking at it tells me it is a non starter versus a Cayman. It's way too wide, it's ugly, it's indifferently made, entry and egress is difficult, impractical, and to cap it all it is way too expensive. It may drive well, but it has to do a lot more than that to make it a potential purchase.  Sorry, but in my opinion, it's not even in the same ball park as the Porsche.

I have written up my thoughts on the new Cayman versus my own original Cayman for a future article in Porsche Post, and in the meantime have put it on my website at www dot arthurlea dot com. You are welcome to have a look.

McJohn

28 March 2013

fair enough Smile I've been to Porsche recently to see the new cayman, and I've tried to like it... but didn't succeed. I don't know, it doesn't look exotic enough for me.

 

I will have a look at your website. 

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