Porsche Cayman S

Class leader will put up a fight to stay at the top of its game

It's not easy having the Porsche 911 as your big brother, but the Cayman lives up to the legend of its older stablemate. We’re big fans of the firm’s smallest coupé, and its mid-engined chassis makes it one of the best-handling cars money can buy – regardless of price.

It’s also a natural rival for the Lotus. Parked next to the Evora, the Cayman is almost exactly the same length, although its wheelbase is shorter as engineers didn’t need to squeeze in an extra pair of seats. The Porsche’s bigger body also sits higher than its rival’s, while its bulbous roofline divides opinion. Arguments will rage over which of our contenders looks better, but there’s no doubt that the latest Cayman’s rounded headlights and small overhangs are neat and well proportioned.

We can’t question the Cayman’s robust finish, either. While the Lotus features composite panels, the Porsche’s bodywork is metal, and this gives it a sense of solidity and more of a high-end feel. This continues inside, where the usual blend of modern quality and classic Porsche detailing is difficult to fault.

It doesn’t feel as special as the Evora, but the materials are first rate and the driving position is faultless. There’s a greater sense of space around the driver, too, and while it lacks the Evora’s rear seats the Cayman provides a front and rear boot. Excellent cabin stowage also makes it’s very practical.

The flipside of the Porsche’s more traditional construction is that it doesn’t feel as instantly engaging or direct as the Lotus. The German model has a higher centre of gravity and displays more body movement than its British rival, although the Cayman still manages to immerse the driver in the experience behind the wheel.

Its steering is weightier than the Evora’s and not quite as sharp, but the Cayman turns in with pinpoint accuracy. The taut suspension also provides lots of grip and superb traction. It strikes a fantastic compromise, with perfect handling and supple suspension that makes the Porsche a more refined cruiser. Strong brakes and a great six-speed gearbox complete the incredible dynamic set-up.

The Porsche’s 320bhp 3.4-litre flat-six has a 44bhp power advantage, too. It emits a deep-throated engine note and, helped by 370Nm of torque – 20Nm more than the Evora – delivers better in-gear responses. The extra power comes into its own above 4,000rpm, as the engine races to the red line faster than the Lotus’s Toyota V6.

Incredibly, the Porsche is 32kg lighter, at 1,350kg, so we weren’t surprised it was faster against the clock. It feels quick, too, thanks to the engine’s character and sharper throttle response.

Not even the long list of expensive optional extras can detract from the latest Cayman’s appeal. The maker’s well earned reputation for reliability and customer care – plus the car’s solid residual values – all ensure this Porsche remains a hugely enticing ownership proposition.

Details

Chart position: 1WHY: Put simply, the latest Cayman S is the benchmark against which all models in this class have to be judged.

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