Luxury, performance, practicality, drivability - the Cayman S is really a dandy
Not tested long term.
Porsche. I don't really think there is much need to say more (but I will anyway). One of Porsche's most recent line-up additions is the 987 Cayman. Introduced in 2005, it has endured a love-hate relationship with the automotive press. Most negativity stemming from the sentiment that the Cayman was purposely held back by design as to not outshine the flagship Porsche 911. On the other hand, the mid-engine configuration, which neutralizes the handling as compared to the sometimes unruly 911, means that the Cayman is one of the best handling cars... anywhere. I drove a Cayman S briefly, yet I was left with a lasting impression.
Firstly, it's a Porsche. Which means endless heritage and lore. The ignition key slot is on the dash to the left of the steering wheel. LeMans aficionados know this is a classic Porsche trait designed to allow the driver to start and put the car into gear at the same time. An invaluable ability in the days of the "running start" at the fabled 24-hour race.
At first impression, the Cayman is really like any other car. It is easy to see out of, the seats are comfortable (actually very much so), and there are all the comforts and practicalities inside that you would expect from a normal sedan car. Porsche offers such a staggering array of options that it is really very unlikely that any two Porsches are identical, even though they do make quite a few of them. The car I drove had a leather interior, sport seats, a 6-speed manual gearbox and standard entertainment system (which I didn't use).
The styling is classic Porsche. Outside, the somewhat bulbous lines are very similar to the Boxster convertible. The car isn't really beautiful, or even aggressive, but it manages to massage the eyes into maybe thinking it isn't so bad looking either. The interior is a model of perfect fit-and-finish, and form following function, another Porsche motif. Everything is just where it should be as not to distract from the driving.
I drove the Cayman S on bumpy, winding back roads, and as you'd expect, the experience was magnificent. The flat 6 sounds better than almost anything, and is signature Porsche sound. The Cayman rides fairly soft for such a sporty car, soaking up the typical Pennsylvania potholes with absolute ease as it corners.
Speaking of corners, believe what you hear when you hear someone tell you driving a Porsche is an organic feeling. I was able to carry on a normal conversation with the passenger as we pounded around corners and screamed up rapid hills on our jaunt. Everything is mind-melting good, to the point where your mind actually does melt and the car guides your motions. The gear change is German efficient and quick thanks to a short throw shifter. And the clutch pedal was surprising light for the high-powered engine that nestles in somewhere behind the cabin. This really is a sports car for your every day drive.
The Cayman S does have two trunks. Thanks to its rear-mid-engine layout, the trunk under the hood offers ample space for luggage, as does the space beneath the hatch. Plus, as a Porsche it is endlessly customizable. I can't even bother to list the options you should probably have as reading a Porsche options list is more intensive than reading War and Peace. Actually, spec'ing your Porsche may be more intensive than actually driving it... Shame really, because you'll really be wanting to get it out on the road.
There are faults, other than the ambiguous Porsche styling. The seats, though comfortable, were noticeably much harder than any other I've sat in. The trunks, though there are two, are too small for ice hockey equipment, and the roof rack option is hideous, so that's out. And of course, it's a Porsche. Which means painful pricing of options (I once spec'ed a Boxster S with $100,000 in optional extras alone, that's twice the price of the standard car) and things like leather interior, proper-looking wheels, paint other than white, red, or yellow, and so forth are pricey extras. And then there's the maintenance costs...
But none of that really matters. What matters is that the Cayman S is really a dandy piece to drive.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th July, 2011