Porsche Cayman review
The Porsche Cayman is faster, more agile, and cheaper to run than before - It won the Best Coupe of 2013 at the Auto Express awards
The Porsche Cayman is one of the finest sports cars money can buy. Now into its second generation, it’s lighter, faster and better looking than ever. Like the Alfa Romeo 4C, its mid-engined layout places all the major components between the axles, with the aim of delivering perfectly balanced handling.
Our choice: Cayman S
Muscular proportions and sharp detailing mean the MkII Cayman has a grown-up look all of its own. The entry-level Cayman gets 18-inch wheels as standard, although our car was fitted with £971 optional 19-inch rims.
Inside, the Porsche feels more upmarket than an Alfa Romeo 4C. First-rate materials, superb build quality and a flawless driving position all place the Cayman a cut above the rather sparse 4C. The classic overlapping Porsche dash dials are brought bang up to date with a TFT screen in the right-hand dial, while the £2,141 optional Porsche Communication Management (PCM) satellite-navigation system is expensive but excellent to use.
All the switchgear is perfectly placed and the dashboard wraps around you. As ever with Porsche, options are expensive, but the driver-focused Cayman cabin gets the basics right.
While the rear-engined 911 is synonymous with Porsche, the company was making mid-engined cars as far back as 1953. Today, the Boxster convertible and Cayman coupe continue that pedigree and set the class benchmark that any new mid-engined rear-wheel-drive sports car must match.
The Cayman’s pure, undiluted feedback immediately makes you feel at one with the road. The electric power-steering is perfectly weighted and full of the feel.
Whether you’re on a track or the road, the Cayman’s brilliance shines through at every corner. Near-perfect weight distribution and beautifully controlled body movement mean the chassis delivers bags of grip and faultless poise. It’s easy to precisely adjust your line, and on the exit of bends traction is almost unbreakable. It’s so composed that the stability control system is rarely troubled.
Our Cayman wasn’t fitted with dynamic engine mounts, a torque-vectoring system or limited-slip differential, yet the handling is still sublime. Better still, even without the brilliant PASM adaptive dampers, the ride is surprisingly supple, meaning the Porsche soaks up and deals with bumps quite well. The Porsche is refined, too, with much less wind and road noise. In fact, our sound meter revealed the Cayman emitted 70dB at 70mph.
This relative silence doesn’t come at the expense of character, particularly if you go for the £1,473 optional sports exhaust.
The slick-shifting six-speed gearbox is a joy to use and you’ll relish revving the engine all the way to the near-8,000rpm red line. Which is just as well, as the 2.7-litre Cayman needs to be worked hard. Power starts to build from 4,500rpm, when peak torque arrives, and with relatively long gearing, the car can seem
a bit flat at low revs. On the open road, it consistently delivers a thrilling blend of performance, handling and driving pleasure at all times.
Porsche has a long tradition of building beautifully engineered cars, and the Cayman is no exception. The cabin is solidly screwed together, and the car benefits from tried-and-tested mechanicals under the skin.
This is backed up by owners, who placed the brand 18th for reliability in our Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey. As you’d expect, the Cayman comes with a raft of safety kit as standard, including a full complement of six airbags, while buyers with deep pockets can add carbon-ceramic brakes and adaptive cruise control. However, we’d expect an Isofix child seat mounting to be standard – not a £121 optional extra.
For a low-slung, two-seater coupe, the Cayman turns out to be surprisingly practical. Driver and passenger get plenty of head and legroom, while the cabin is stuffed with useful storage space. There’s a deep and well shaped 150-litre boot in the nose, and the shallow rear load area will swallow 275 litres of luggage if you pack tight.
But the refinement, visibility and comfort are the Porsche’s biggest practicality advantages over the Alfa Romeo 4C. Power-steering, a smoother ride and comfortable seats mean it’s a sports car you’ll enjoy living with every day.
The 2.7-litre Cayman is cheaper to buy than an Alfa Romeo 4C, but 192g/km emissions mean it’s a more expensive company car choice. Opt for the £1,922 PDK dual-clutch box, and CO2 output falls to 180g/km.
A metal body means the Porsche is far heavier than the carbon-fibre Alfa, although it’s around 30kg lighter than its predecessor and features stop-start.
During our test, we averaged a respectable 27.6mpg. Enjoy the full rev range too much, though, and fuel bills will rise. Scheduled servicing is expensive as well – the first three check-ups will set you back a total of £1,570.