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3 December 2008

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.


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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.

Jamie Corstorphine

Join the debate


4 December 2008

Good start, now give us a Club Sport!

4 December 2008

[quote TegTypeR]Good start, now give us a Club Sport![/quote]

Well said that man. I've been pleading for one for some time now on their customer forums, but when Porsche do splash out to develop something these days it seems to be to be in an effort to move away from the sports car market, and alienate their traditional customers.

4 December 2008

I like it more than the 911; I do not know a lot about porsche models, but is the club sport like a road legal car that can also be used on the track, or is it just a mighty fast road version?

4 December 2008

I really like the Cayman, but 4 cylinders would be more than enough for me, might even improve the handling with its smaller mass.

4 December 2008

I agree. High revving 4 cylinder, Non adjustable suspension. Cloth seats. Everything manual but with air-con option.

I like the Cayman as much as I hate the Panamera.

4 December 2008

Just when I started loading my pennies into the wheelbarrow for a used Cayman S. Should I hang on a bit longer??? I've driven the old Cayman S and loved every second of it. I won't bother with the new one! It'll only confuse things even more.

4 December 2008

Found it mysefl!...........(I know a different model)...the 1987 Carrera Club Sport, of which 340 were produced, is a collectible 911 that had a blueprinted engine with a higher rev limit, and had the electric windows, electric seats, and radio removed to save a claimed 50 kg (110 lb) in weight

Thus I am assuming it is an uprated version but not an RS, which I had thought stood for Rally sport, but it does not, it stands for racing sport (when translated into english); you learn something new everyday!

The Cayman is cooler compared to the 911......some how I think more sporty, its got a really modern somehow retro feel, whereas the 911 I think looks like some 80's wide boy cut back.

4 December 2008

[quote March1981] I've driven the old Cayman S and loved every second of it.[/quote]

I drove one recently and whilst it was an accomplioshed, playful thing I found that it had to be wooouuunnd oooouuuut to really extract the performance. When I did this I ended up travelling at such high speeds that I may as well have torn my licence up and eaten it. It's no slouch but it desperately needs lower and closer gearing to give an opportunity to swap cogs more often and wind that lovely engine out to the redline. I saw an indicated 110mph in third and at the meaty end of 4th I was ready to back off. I never tried fifth. Who honestly travels at 140+ regularly on the open road? Oh that's right, the Germans do............

4 December 2008

[quote W124]

I agree. High revving 4 cylinder, Non adjustable suspension. Cloth seats. Everything manual but with air-con option.

I like the Cayman as much as I hate the Panamera.


I like all the manual stuff idea and the seats are already leatherette/alcantera, how about half the engine, a triple? Porsche have been known to cut engines in half before and make the end result more successful than the original, 924+(928/2)=944.

5 December 2008

Well I remember the 4 cylinder engine in the 968. Superb. made a great sound as well. A triple would be top. it would be a 1.6 turbo then? Hmmm....


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