Porsche Cayman R

Faster, lighter version of sensational coupé promises maximum driving thrills

On paper, the new Cayman R promises to be an extremely special addition to the Porsche line-up. Using the already excellent S version as a basis, the newcomer is lighter and more powerful, plus it features an uprated chassis for even sharper driving dynamics.


Designers have also been given licence to tweak the car’s exterior, so the R takes its cues from the firm’s stripped-out, drop-top Boxster Spyder. That means it gets an aggressive bodykit which includes a fixed rear wing and deeper front spoiler, while the door mirror housings, radiator vents and headlight surrounds are all finished in menacing black.

Elsewhere, a 20mm lower ride height helps provide the Cayman with an even more racy look – an impression that’s further enhanced by the addition of eye-catching 19-inch alloy wheels and bold stripes down the flanks. The latter take their inspiration from the brand’s famous RS models. However, these external changes do more than simply increase the posing appeal of the new Porsche. For instance, the rear wing combines with the lowered suspension to help reduce rear axle lift at high speeds by up to 40 per cent. And it’s this kind of no-compromise pursuit of performance that marks the Cayman R out as something special. 

There are further alterations under the bonnet. A revised exhaust system and a remapped electronic control unit have been added to the familiar 3.4-litre flat-six powerplant. The result is 

a power output of 325bhp, which is a modest 10bhp increase over the Cayman S. While this doesn’t seem like a big increase, it’s worth noting that the R is 55kg lighter than its cheaper stablemate.

This impressive weight saving has been achieved by putting the Cayman on a crash diet. The use  of aluminium doors saves 15kg, special lightweight carbon fibre seats shed a further 12kg, while ditching the air-conditioning shaves off another 12kg. 

The Cayman R also has a 54-litre fuel tank – the standard model uses a larger 61-litre unit. Owners with particularly deep pockets can even shell out an eye-watering £1,295 on a lighter racing battery, which slashes a further 10kg from the kerbweight. 

On the face of it, these adjustments appear a little extreme, but they are all designed to help the Cayman R deliver a pure, undiluted hit of driving adrenaline. It’s possible to add air conditioning and a radio at no extra cost, and Porsche’s PDK double-clutch transmission is a £2,141 option. Specify all this, and the car would be a more bearable proposition on a day-to-day basis. 

Unfortunately, the extras won’t be able to disguise the bone-jarring ride. On broken or rough surfaces, the lowered and stiffened set-up means progress can be intolerable, and it’s made worse by the fact that you can’t specify Porsche’s excellent PASM active dampers, which aid comfort. 

However, find some smooth tarmac, and the Cayman R is transformed. The taut suspension is beautifully damped, while body control is absolutely faultless. As a result, it feels perfectly in touch with the road and offers masses of confidence-inspiring grip. 

A limited-slip differential helps to deliver incredible traction, and the balance between front and rear grip is near perfect. Adding to the driver thrills are the wonderfully accurate steering, which is oozing with feedback, an engine that bellows, barks and delivers intoxicating power from 4,500rpm upwards, and brakes that are powerful and progressive. On the right sort of road, the Cayman R can lay claim to being one of the most engaging sports cars in the world.

In fact, the only sticking point is the £53,869 price tag – it represents a whopping £4,262 premium over the already excellent S. For many buyers, the standard model will be all the sports car they’ll ever need; but for keen drivers, the newcomer adds an extra layer of excitement that makes it worth every extra penny. 

And while it doesn’t have the competition pedigree of its illustrious 904 forerunner, the R is a worthy spiritual successor, and deserves its place at the top of the Cayman tree.


WHY: Faster, lighter and more extreme version of the Cayman.

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