The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The new Cayman can no longer be considered just an entry-level Porsche: it’s a highly accomplished sports car that constitutes good value.
Reasons to buy:
- Engaging to drive
- Appealing styling
- Good value
How good does it look?
“The look is enhanced by the shoulder line that rises from the wheelarches to the rear panels”
The second-generation Porsche Cayman is a totally new car, re-engineered for the twenty-teens. While the previous generation was a highly attractive sports car, this new model is even better looking, with new proportions underlining the car’s character. The wheelbase has been extended, shortening the overhangs, which, with the wider track, gives the car a more planted look. The roofline also stretches further back than before. Overall, the Cayman manages to look squatter and more compact. At the front, the look is informed by the Panamera sports saloon, with air intakes below the headlights that flare outwards towards the side of the car. Side on, this look is enhanced further by the shoulder line that rises from the wheelarches to the rear panels, and by the recesses in the doors that guide the eye towards the intake scoops in front of the rear wheels.
What's the interior like?
“It doesn’t follow the current trend for cockpit-style wraparound dashboards, but has a more linear, T-shaped layout”
Porsche has worked hard on the interior design of its cars in the last few years and they’re now up there with the best of the German manufacturers. It doesn’t follow the current trend for cockpit-style wraparound dashboards, but has a more linear, T-shaped layout. The centre console descends from the dashboard, and contains the gear shift lever and the switchgear that affects the car’s driving dynamics – this has a definite motorsport-inspired feel. However, the multitude of buttons strewn across the dashboard and the variety of menus and sub-menus that you often have to scroll through to find what you’re looking for does take the sheen off what is, otherwise, a very lovely place to sit. The leather-covered dash, steering wheel, interior surfaces and seats (where optioned) add a premium ambience. All these elements add up to create a sense of being cossetted and cocooned in a high-quality sports car – which is enhanced when the engine just behind the seats fires up.
How practical is it?
The Cayman is a two-seat sports car that is built purely for the enjoyment of driving, so practicality isn’t the top of the list of requirements. That said, though, the Cayman’s mid-engined layout does help create a surprising amount of bootspace. There’s a 150-litre compartment at the front and 275 litres at the rear, creating a 425-litre total – that’s a lot more than a family hatchback with the seats in place (the Ford Focus has a boot capacity of 318 litres, for example).
What's it like to drive?
This is the department in which the Cayman excels. The steering is sharp and accurate, which instills great confidence in the driver: where you point the Cayman, it will go. The layout, the stiffer chassis, loss of around 30kg (thanks to the greater use of lighter metals such as aluminium) and the act of pushing the wheels out further towards the corners of the car means that the Cayman feels perfectly balanced. Add excellent body control and what seems like an endless supply of grip, and what you have is a sports car that sets a new benchmark in the segment, one that will be hard to top. It also makes the Cayman one of the most rewarding, engaging and fun-to-drive cars currently on sale. With cars that handle this well there’s often a price to pay in the ride department – that’s not the case here, though. Yes, the Cayman is sports-car firm, but it doesn’t feel uncomfortable, even when fitted with bigger wheels. Indeed, if you pay a bit extra for the PASM active damping system, you can even spec huge 20-inchers and still stay comfortable.
How powerful is it?
“After driving the base Cayman, you’ll wonder if you really need the extra power of the S”
Both Cayman engines have six-cylinders, with a 2.7-litre unit in the base Cayman and a 3.4-litre powerplant for the Cayman S. The standard Cayman’s engine ensures the car is no slouch, the 273bhp enabling it to achieve the 0-62mph sprint in 5.7 seconds. It certainly feels quick, but it does require lots of revs to get the most out of it. After driving the base Cayman, you’ll wonder if you really need the extra 49bhp of the S. A few minutes in the S will soon assure you that you do. The S’s 322bhp adds a new dimension of performance: officially, it shaves 0.4 seconds off the base car’s 0-62mph time, but it feels like more than that. It also feels willing and effortless, continuing on to a top speed of 176mph. The six-speed manual gearbox has a wonderfully precise action, making quick shifts easy and rewarding. There’s also a double-clutch PDK ‘box that is one of the best automatic transmissions on the market, especially when mated with (optional) flappy paddles. For anyone who uses the Cayman as a daily driver, commuting in busy urban traffic, it makes the car even more practical and usable. (the PDK also has the benefit of reducing the 0-62 time of the Cayman to 5.6 seconds, and the S to 4.9 seconds)
How much will it cost me?
Obviously, a car like this is never going to be a cheap thing to buy and run, but compared with other sports cars, the Cayman is actually very efficient. The 2.7-litre unit officially returns 34.4mpg and emits 192g/km of CO2 (improving to 36.7mpg and 180g/km of CO2 with the PDK). The more powerful engine returns 32.1mpg and returns 206g/km (35.3mpg and 188g/km with PDK). To be perfectly honest, though, no owner is going to achieve anything like those figures if they’re making the most of the car’s capabilities, and they’re also likely to run up hefty tyre bills. Insurance premiums are also going to prove pricey, with pretty high insurance groups for both the standard model and the S, so you’ll need a pretty good no-claims bonus for that not to be prohibitively expensive.
How reliable is it?
The previous-generation Cayman proved to be reliable and we don’t expect anything to have changed for the new car, which is more advanced in all aspects. When problems do occur, they tend to be of an electrical nature, but owners shouldn’t expect any more problems than with the average car.
How safe is it?
All Caymans come with two-stage driver and passenger airbags, plus side and head airbags for the driver and passenger. There are also the usual electronic passive safety aids, bundled up as Porsche Stability Management (PSM). What’s more, you have the option of adaptive cruise control for models fitted with the PDK automatic transmission. There’s also a superb set of brakes that provides sufficient stopping power to counter the performance of the engines, as well as the option of high-performance ceramic discs.
How much equipment do I get?
“There are numerous options, but liberal ticking of boxes on the list quickly ramps up the price of the car. You have been warned”
Standard equipment on the Cayman – as we’ve come to expect from premium manufacturers who tend to make a lot of their money from expensive options – is not exactly overwhelming. Buyers get air-conditioning, a CD-based audio system with MP3 connectivity, a seven-inch touch-screen control interface, automatic headlight activation, auto stop-start function, electronic parking brake, Sport button, 18-inch alloy wheels, a top tinted windscreen and floor mats. The S adds larger 19-inch alloys, part-leather seats and bi-Xenon headlights. There are, of course, numerous options, but liberal ticking of boxes on the list of available equipment – the likes of telephone, the Porsche Communication Management system with a satellite-navigation module, leather and larger wheels – quickly ramps up the price of the car. You have been warned.
The Cayman constitutes one of the best, most engaging driving experiences money can buy. The 911, Porsche’s iconic model, has survived 50 years because it’s so good, but this Cayman provides an lower-priced alternative that doesn’t suffer from comparison with the more expensive sibling. As two-seat sports cars go, the Cayman is the pick of the bunch and is actually very reasonably priced for what you get (even after you’ve spent a couple of grand more on a few necessary options).