REVIEW DATE: 22 Aug 2008
Porsche's quickest Cayman yet is the Cayman S Sport. Steve Walker takes a look.
Considering the kind of performance and handling capabilities that Porsche routinely furnishes its products with, the look of its mainstream cars is fairly subdued. Some sports car makers will wheel out the day-glow colour schemes and super-aggressive spoiler kits for any model with a decent turn of pace but Porsche tends to favour a more restrained approach. The result is that when you see a Porsche vehicle in full look-at-me livery, you know it's worthy of your attention. That's the case with the Cayman S Sport.
The Porsche Cayman has won almost universal critical acclaim since its arrival. The car's mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout produces a purity and poise to its handling that's widely thought to be superior even to its bigger brother, the rear-engined 911. There's no question at all that the Cayman is a superbly balanced sports car and its ability on the road and on the track has consistently led enthusiasts to make the familiar call for more power. The standard Cayman has 245bhp from its 2.7-litre engine engine, the Cayman S upped the anti with its 295bhp 3.4-litre unit and now there's the Cayman S Sport.
The Cayman S Sport uses the 3.4-litre 295bhp engine from the Cayman S but through a series of high-tech tweaks, the Porsche engineers have liberated 303bhp. Other notable features on the Cayman S Sport include spacers that widen the track by 10mm front and rear, a sports exhaust system and Porsche Active Suspension Management which lowers the car by 10mm. PASM is an electronic control system for the car's dampers that continuously adapts them for optimum performance within the parameters set by the driver. Select normal or Sport mode and the PASM uses its bank of sensors to respond to the road conditions and your driving style.
"This is the quickest Cayman yet and its extrovert exterior underlines that fact"
The Porsche Cayman shares its basic underpinnings with the Boxster roadster but Keen drivers will know that the addition of a fixed roof brings added torsional rigidity, with improvements to handling and refinement. As a result, the Cayman is said to be stiffer than a 911 Carrera. The suspension has been modified compared to that of the Boxster to endow the Cayman with a sharper feel. Firmer springs, stiffer dampers, meatier anti-roll bars and beefier bushings all combine to give the Cayman a more focused agenda. A rear spoiler deploys at 75mph, doing a good job of alerting the boys in blue should you breach the motorway speed limit.
So the Cayman S Sport has more power and a sharper handling focus but doesn't it make sure that everybody knows it? The inspiration for the way the Cayman S Sport looks comes direct from the hardcore 911 track special, the GT3 RS. The standard colour schemes are day-glow orange or green, although lower-key alternatives are available, and the car's flanks sport the Cayman S logo underlined with a black go-faster stripe. The mirrors, alloy wheels and air-intakes are all picked out in black and inside, the trim follows a similarly dark theme with the gearshift, handbrake and steering wheel finished in Alcantara.
The interior is remarkably spacious given the size of the car and although headroom may be limited for the very tall, most drivers will be able to get comfortable. One reason why the packaging is so good could be Porsche's laudable decision not to include rear seats. Market analysis will tell a cautionary tale of sportscar buyers in this sector shunning anything without four seats that isn't a convertible but the kind of seating you get in the back of small coupes tends to be nothing short of ludicrous. Anyone with legs of more than 18 inches in length will find it a physical impossibility to get into the rear of one of these cars which, for the most part, relegates the 'seating' to a mere storage role. Surely, it must be better to forego it altogether, as the Cayman does. Luggage compartments front and rear offer a combined 410-litre capacity to meet your storage needs.
Porsche is building 700 Cayman S Sport models and these will need to satisfy demand worldwide. Each model will have its own individual model number on a special plaque mounted on the glovebox. Standard equipment levels include Bi-Xenon headlights, the Sports Chrono Package with its dash-mounted stopwatch and leather sports seats.
Every customer buying a Porsche Cayman S Sport gets a Porsche Driving Experience course thrown in to provide them with some expert training on how to get the most out of the car. The alternative colour combinations for those who's rather not go for the orange and green standard hues, are Black, Guards Red, Speed Yellow, Carrera White and Arctic Sliver Metallic which comes at a premium.
Running a Porsche Cayman should be a relatively hassle free business considering the kind of capabilities the car has in its locker. Fuel economy, so long as you drive in a measured fashion, should approach 26mpg in the Cayman S Sport. Emissions will give more of a headache with the figure being well over the 250g/km barrier. The Cayman's desirability is unlikely to waver much over the coming years and residual values should be buoyant.
The standard Porsche Cayman models are not cars that strike you as in danger of being corrupted by more power. Handling the extra 8bhp that the Cayman S Sport serves up should, therefore, be well within the capabilities of the outstanding chassis. This is the quickest Cayman yet and its extrovert exterior underlines that fact while its limited availability looks likely to make it one of the most sought-after models in the Porsche range.
Although the styling may well divide opinion, it's unlikely there will be anything about the Porsche Cayman's driving dynamics that generate cause for complaint. Feel safe in the knowledge that you're getting 911-style capability with a better balance for significantly less.
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|Porsche Cayman 2.9 2dr PDK coupe|
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|For CAYMAN S SPORT|
|OVERALL||7.6 OUT OF 10|
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