I confess. I have yet to meet a Porsche I don't like (and yes, that includes the Cayenne). That's why when Porsche Cars North America told us our next press car would be their mid engine Cayman I was uncharacteristically hesitant. You see, up until now, wait for it... I wasn't a Cayman fan. It's true, not only was I not in love with the looks, I was tired of listening to all the complaining (from current Cayman owners of course) that Porsche was/is holding the power back on the Cayman so as not to cannibalize sales of the fleet's flagship Porsche 911 (which it turns out is probably true, but more on that later). My opinion took a drastic 180 degree turn on a drive through the Orange groves of the central Florida on the way to Sebring.
Every time I saw a Cayman on the street, my immediate reaction was, Why?
Why did Porsche slap a hardtop on the Boxster and rename it? Why does the sum of all it's potentially aesthetic parts still not combine to form an object of obsession (in my mind) similar to the silhouette of a sexy 911?
The answer it seems, is that I just never gave it a chance. Stubborn "purist" that I am, I had formed my opinion after a short introduction when the Cayman was first released and no one or nothing was going to change it. I would see a Cayman and simply dismiss it. In simple terms, a Porsche snob at his worst.
What changed things for me? Spending time with a 2009 Cayman S up close and personal. When Porsche first dropped the Cayman in our driveway, the first thing we did was go out and look, long and hard. Whether you're a fan of a certain Porsche or not, it's still a joy to go see a toy that was delivered to your doorstep for the sole purpose of driving and evaluating it. The only thing that could make it better is if it were a Porsche. Oh, wait. It is!!
It seems the only thing I'm having trouble with is a certain rear view.
If anyone is wondering why Porsche would have a 2009 model year in their press fleet, it's due to the simple fact that there were basically no changes between the 2009 and 2010 model years (outside of a color option or two). Rather than incur the expense of replacing the '09s with 2010s, they simply opted to keep the '09s in the fleet. A somewhat boring, but understandable choice.
Which Porsche Cayman is right for you?
Before our Cayman press car even arrived, we had to make a choice. Just like ordering a car from a dealer we had to decide between a base Cayman filled to the gills with options and accessories or a "stripper" - a Cayman S stripped down to the bare essentials with just a few choice options. Hmmmm...
Turns out it wasn't really a tough choice. Let's see, a base Cayman with a 2.9 liter 265 horse power engine loaded to the gills with performance reducing, weight carrying options or, a somewhat stripped down Cayman S with 55 + more ponies (that's 320 for those of you who are mathematically challenged) coming from a 3.4 liter power plant. We'll take the Cayman S please.
Our Porsche Cayman S was equipped as follows:
- Cayman S Base Brice: $60,200
- Meteor Grey Metallic: $710
- PDK: $3,420
- Self Dim Mirrors and Rain Sensors: $690
- Heated Front Seats: $500
- Automatic Climate Control: $550
- Bluetooth Interface for Mobile: $695
- Bose High End Sound Package: $990
- Floor Mats in Interior Color: $90
- Universal Audio Interface: $95
With a destination charge of $950 our "stripper" Cayman S stickered out just shy of $70k at $68,890 (check out the Porsche Cayman S Sticker Price if interested). While not inexpensive, it is still $7k less than a base Carrera and $15k less than one equipped similarly to our Cayman. That's a lot of additional money for only 25 more HP (the base Carrera has a 3.6 making 345 HP) and 3/10 of a second reduction in the 0 to 60 time (the Cayman S with PDK gets to 60 MPH in 4.8 seconds while a Base 911 Carrera will do so in 4.5). Both will take 2/10ths of a second off the time if you add in the optional SportsChrono (a feature we highly recommend and sorely missed in our tester).
It's these seriously similar performance numbers that keep the Cayman conspiracy theorists in business. The cold hard truth is that if you put two similarly skilled drivers on a track going head to head (one in a Cayman the other in a base 911) with equal HP, the mid engined Cayman would probably win lap after lap. The balance is just that good.
To Option or Not to Option
When we expressed our surprise at the lack of luxuries included in our Cayman S test car we were quickly informed that this particular configuration was actually the most common order spec by both the dealers and consumers. Turns out it's the right set-up. With few electronic bells and whistles, and none of the performance robbing weight that comes along with excessive accessories, the Cayman S is a joy to drive (not to mention much more affordable). Porsche's mid-engine coupe loves loves being thrown into corners. Want to lose the back end in a corner? You have to try real, real hard (and remember to turn off PSM). The optimal weight balance that comes from the mid-engine design makes a better driver out of even the worst wanna be racers.
Storage space in a Porsche Cayman
Like the Porsche Boxster, we were pleasantly surprised at everything you could fit into the front and rear storage compartments of the Cayman. Similar to the Boxster the Cayman provides trunk space both front and rear. The front space easily holds two good size carry on pieces of luggage (plus a few extras) while the rear space held two large duffel bags, two pairs of shoes and a box of T-shirts.
To top it off, the Cayman offers storage areas the Boxster doesn't. In the space where the Boxster top would retract is a storage shelf that with cargo net that makes easy work of a brief case or purse.
In addition, on each side of the rear luggage compartment are deep, covered hatches that we used to store all of our electronic gear we wanted to remain out of site when leaving the car locked for the night. In other words, no shortage of space and even more than one would expect.
Who or What does the Porsche Cayman Compete With
The most often heard comparison is Nissan vs. Porsche. While not quite as heated as the Porsche 911 Turbo vs. Nissan GT-R battle, the Cayman vs. 370Z is the one you see the most. In my mind, it's not even a competition. Yes, yes, I know. The Nissan is almost half the price with comparable performance numbers. To me, it just doesn't matter. If you're shopping for a Porsche, you're most likely not looking at a Nissan. If you're looking at a Nissan 370Z, chances are - in most cases - you're not looking at a Porsche. Nissan simply doesn't have the intangibles that make a Porsche a Porsche: history; provenance; racing heritage; the list goes on.
Who is the Porsche Cayman Built For?
Anyone that wants an enjoyable, purpose built, focused and nimble sports car that is a joy to drive and easy to live with. Equipped withe the seven speed PDK, the Cayman works well just about anywhere. It's fast and nimble enough to enjoy on the back roads or occasional track event, yet refined to the point where you won't feel like you've gone 10 rounds after spending a day commuting.