Porsche Cayman review
Faster, more agile and cheaper to run than before, the sleek Porsche Cayman sets the benchmark
The Porsche Cayman has some big boots to fill. Its brilliant predecessor was one of the most entertaining and engaging sportscars money could buy, and it easily saw off rivals such as the expensive Lotus Evora and lead-footed Audi TT RS. Now there’s an all-new Cayman, which promises to set an even higher standard. Based on the brand’s latest Boxster, the newcomer is lighter, more powerful and even faster than before. There are two models to choose from: the entry-level 2.7-litre 271bhp Cayman, and the 3.4-litre 321bhp Cayman S.
Our choice: Cayman S
It’s a case of evolution rather than revolution when it comes to the styling of the Porsche Cayman. At a glance the coupe looks remarkably similar to its sleek predecessor. However, closer inspection reveals it’s longer and wider than before, while the sharper edged design gives the Cayman a more aggressive stance. The standard model gets 18-inch alloys, while the more expensive S benefits from eye-catching 19-inch rims. Inside, the Porsche Cayman feels much more upmarket than before. Classy materials, first-rate build quality and a flawless driving position mean the strict two-seater feels a cut above the rather cobbled together Lotus Evora. However, while all the essential kit is covered, you’ll need to dip into the expensive options lists for desirable extras such as Bluetooth and sat-nav.
Few cars can rival the Porsche Cayman for driving thrills. With its beautifully balanced mid-engined handling, perfectly weighted steering and staggering grip, it's a blast to drive down any twisting back road. Buyers can also add the brilliant PASM adaptive dampers, which combine superb body control with a remarkably supple ride. Yet the Porsche combines this agility with impressive refinement and comfort, making the Cayman a surprisingly relaxed long-distance cruiser. Both flat-six engines deliver strong performance and a spine-tingling soundtrack, while the 321bhp S will blast from 0-62mph in a Porsche 911 Carrera-rivalling five seconds. As before, a slick six-speed manual is standard, while the firm’s rapid-fire PDK twin clutch transmission is optional.
Porsche has a long tradition of building beautifully engineered cars – and the Cayman is no exception. The cabin is solidly screwed together, while the tried and tested mechanicals have been lifted straight from the Porsche Boxster and 911. On top of that, the brand scored a coveted top 10 finish in the 2012 Driver Power satisfaction survey. As you’d expect, the Cayman comes with a raft of safety kit as standard, including a full complement of six airbags and electronic stability control. Buyers with deep pockets can add carbon ceramic brakes, powerful bi-xenon headlamps and adaptive cruise control. However, we’d expect Isofix child seat fixings to be standard and not an expensive extra.
For a low-slung, two-seater coupe, the Cayman is surprisingly practical. The driver and passenger get plenty of head and legroom, while the cabin is stuffed with useful storage space. There’s also a deep and well-shaped 150-litre boot in the nose, while the shallow load area behind the front seats will accommodate 162 litres of luggage, which increases to 275 litres if you pack to the roof – although it’s worth noting there’s no cover to protect your belongings from prying eyes. However, unlike the Lotus Evora, there isn’t an option to add a pair of occasional rear seats.
Thanks to its lightweight construction, the Cayman is around 30kg lighter than its predecessor. As a result, Porsche claim a 15 per cent increase in efficiency, with the entry-level 2.7-litre car promising to return 34.4mpg and emit an impressively low 192g/km of CO2. Tick the box for the optional seven-speed PDK transmission and these figures are improved to 36.7mpg and 180g/km respectively. However, don’t expect the Cayman to be a cheap car to run. Drive it hard and the fuel consumption will barely rise above 20mpg, while even the scheduled services will be eye-wateringly expensive.