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Porsche Cayman S

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Porsche Cayman
9/10

Overall
verdict

Porsche has done it again. The Cayman is a triumph: a great looking coupe that drives beautifully.

Additional Info

  • The looks, the engines, the road manners, the handling, the cabin…
  • Top Gear wildcard

    Do you really, really like driving? Then please consider a Lotus Exige. No, it’s not quiet, luxurious or comfy, but boy is it fun

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What is it?

Porsche calls it the third generation Cayman, but that’s a bit rich since the middle one was no more than a facelift. This one’s a lot more than that. Revised engines, longer wheelbase, wider tracks, new gadgets and a brand new interior and exterior.

Speaking of which, doesn’t it look good? The original, basically a turreted Boxster, was slightly ill-at-ease, but this one is beautifully crafted, with a real sense of solidity and sculpture. Underneath are 2.7-litre (Cayman) and 3.4-litre (Cayman S and GTS) flat-six engines, the choice of manual or double clutch gearboxes and a whole host of available acronyms: behold, PASM, PTV, PSM…

Driving

Some of the acronyms are actually worth having as they improve the way the Cayman drives. PTV is the torque vectoring differential that improves agility into corners and traction out, while PASM is the active suspension system that lets the driver choose between normal and sports modes for the suspension.

Even without them the Cayman is a sensational car to drive – OK, so the switch to electro-mechanical steering isn’t an improvement, but otherwise it handles masterfully well and so entertainingly. The mid-mounted naturally aspirated engines wail away at you (especially if you’ve selected the sports exhaust option), punching the lightweight coupe out of corners, and all bends from tight hairpins to big sweepers are dealt with immaculately. If pushed, we’d try to find the extra funds needed for the more meaty Cayman S, as the standard car is a little short of low rev torque, but honestly, no rival comes close to being as good to drive as this.

On the inside

You could accuse the Cayman of being a bit generic inside. Many components are shared with other Porsche models, which breeds an easy familiarity. But that’s not the full story. The quality and craftsmanship is utterly first rate, while the layout is attractive and ergonomically superb. The seats are great, the driving position spot-on and with separate load bays front and rear, there’s more practicality than you’d credit.

Besides, if you’re going to share components, there are worse cars to share them with than other Porsches...

Owning

It’ll be a terrific car to own, we can almost guarantee that. It rides well, is quiet and smooth and easy to live with, particularly with that practical hatchback rear and deep front boot. The Cayman has grown up and improved with age. It’s also clean and efficient, even more so with these latest generation engines (the base car, with PDK, averages over 35mpg). But it’s not cheap. Particularly once you’ve specced the car the way you want it. Expect to add at least £5,000 of those multi-acronym’d options to your Cayman – it doesn’t come well equipped as standard.

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Latest road tests

7/10 Porsche Cayman S with six-speed + PASM
September 2006

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