Porsche Cayman review
The Porsche Cayman combines engineering quality and superb handling to make a terrific - if expensive - driver's car
The Porsche Cayman is essentially a coupe version of the Boxster - but in many ways it has given the 911 its closest rival, offering a similar, if not better, driving experience for almost half the price. It runs rings around rivals like the Mercedes SLK and Audi TT RS, and is one of the most enjoyable cars in the world. For those with deeper pockets, or who like to do the occasional track day, there is the Cayman R, but for most people the standard car or the faster S will be quite satisfying enough.
Our choice: Porsche Cayman S manual
The Porsche Cayman is more functional than pretty. It's great from the front, with its 911-style nose, but the rear can look a little awkward, while that pop-up rear spoiler is rather ungainly. Inside, the driving position is perfect with reach and rake adjustable steering and comfortable, figure-hugging sports seats. The dashboard has simple dials and the centre console is just as clearly laid out – it all majors on quality and functionality. Equipment includes part-leather trim, climate control and part-electric seat adjustment as standard. Options include ceramic brakes and satellite-navigation.
The Porsche Cayman is sensational fun to drive. Thanks to the way its steering, gearshift and pedals are weighted, it's enjoyable just cruising to the shops - but on the open road, it excels. The standard Cayman has a 262bhp 2.9-litre flat-six that does 0-62mph in 5.8 secs and 165mph, while the S has a 316bhp 3.4-litre unit that does 0-62mph in 5.2 secs and 171mph. The S is the one we'd go for - the standard car is hardly slow, but the Cayman S has even more low-end grunt and top end fizz. Both sound incredible, too. If you want more go, there's the Cayman R, which has 325bhp and does 0-62mph in 5 secs and 175mph. All Caymans handle beautifully thanks to a near-perfect mid-engined, rear-drive layout. Turn in is crisp, while traction out of bends is mind-blowing. The brakes are just incredible too. We'd go for the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) option, which swaps the standard firm suspension for a driver-adjustable set-up that not only gives more comfort but also better body control. As for refinement, the only thing that holds the Cayman back is tyre noise, otherwise it's very comfortable and quiet on the motorway.
The Porsche Cayman is a very safe car, thanks to six airbags, traction and stability control and enormous brakes, and ceramic discs are an option. Porsches aren't in any way fragile and are meant to be driven hard, so provided you keep up regular servicing, the Cayman should be as reliable as a BMW 3 Series Coupe. Some of the switchgear can feel a bit cheap compared to a 911, but it should stand the test of time.
With a 150-litre boot up front and a 260-litre space at the rear, the Cayman is remarkably spacious for a focused sports car. You'll easily get two people's weekend luggage in there, while it should cope with the weekly shop, too. Inside there are only two seats, but Porsche has made the most of the space on offer and there are actually quite a lot of spaces to put oddments like phones and wallets. You can also squirrel squashy stuff away behind the seats. The view out is generally very good too, thanks to the thin window pillars.
The Cayman is a surprisingly efficient considering the performance on tap. Use it to its full potential and you'll probably get around 20mpg, but on a motorway run we reckon you could easily get more than 30mpg. The PDK twin-clutch automatic is even more efficient than the standard six-speed manual. Tax is quite pricey though with the Cayman S emitting 228g/km. Insurance, servicing and maintenance are likely to be very expensive, too.