PDK 'box suits the Cayman S, even if the buttons still feel wrong

What is it?

This is the Porsche Cayman S PDK. We’ve already driven the new Porsche Cayman S, which gets a mild restyle along with much more significant mechanical changes, but this is the first chance we’ve had to sample the car in the UK.

The changes to the Cayman S include a more powerful, more efficient engine, and the opportunity to spec a limited-slip differential for the first time.

You also now get the chance to add Porsche’s double-clutch ‘PDK’ gearbox.

What’s it like?

After sampling a 911 with double-clutch technology we pretty much knew what to expect of the same 'box mated to the Porsche Cayman’s new direct-injection flat-six motor.

The PDK gearbox is, on the whole, far more engaging than the old torque-converter Tiptronic system.

Unless the engine is winter-morning cold the changes are very fast and extremely slick. It’s also satisfying to be able to hear the shrill flat-six at maximum revs without the gearbox interfering and changing up for you.

In self-shifting ‘D’ mode, the PDK gearbox makes the Porsche Cayman an extremely civil device and remarkably pleasant to thread through town.

Our frustrations with the 911 PDK are carried over, though. The steering wheel shift buttons seem counter-intuitive to us. You pull the button back to change down and push the button to change up, which goes contrary to what most other manufacturers do.

A better is flicking the gear selector to the right and nudging it forward for upchanges and pulling back to select lower ratios.

The PDK ‘box, though, doesn’t harm any other element of the Porsche Cayman S experience. And if the Cayman S isn’t the best sports car on the planet, it comes pretty near the top of the list.

Should I buy one?

For most driving we’d still rather have the mechanical interaction that a manual Porsche Cayman S provides. But there’s no denying that the PDK gearbox is miles better than the old Tiptronic option. And if you want a two-pedal Porsche you won’t be disappointed. We just wish Porsche would reverse those steering wheel buttons.

Chas Hallett

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Peter Cavellini 30 July 2010

Re: Porsche Cayman 3.4 S PDK

Porsche is getting a bit like Ford with the Transit here i think?!,there are millions of ways to spec a Transit and call it something else, don't you think the Cayman should be left alone?, it kind of dilutes the image a bit,and anyway when you spec it up yourself it's YOUR Cayman, it's highly unlikely that someone will spec it just like yours, will they?

david RS 10 March 2009

Re: Porsche Cayman 3.4 S PDK

Anyway, it is necessary to see the PDK as a good automatic gearbox no more.
The true mechanical pleasure is with the mechanical box.
But, I think that many will pass to the PDK.

Porsche : give us a genuine switchable PSM ;-)

TegTypeR 10 March 2009

Re: Porsche Cayman 3.4 S PDK

Orangewheels wrote:
If I had more manufacturing & parts sourcing experience, and a spare wedge of cash, I'd set up a company that would offer to retro-fit "proper" paddles to these PDK Porsches.

I'm guessing one of the Porsche specialists either in this country or Germany is already underway developing such a system. I think the system is so universally derided that if they haven't their missing a trick. I don't think you would even have to do that much, I would guess it's a little bit of re-programing of an ECU somewhere and probably the reversal of some wires.

I would imagine the only reason Porsche are still offering it, is that they have a contract with their supplier to supply X amount of units before they can re-negotiate or redesign the component.

As for the Cayman, as good as the PDK system is, it still leaves me cold. Undoubtedly it will be a sales success though, in much the same way the old Tiptronic was. Eugh!