Exterior Design: ***
The Cayman is more color sensitive than Constance Ramos. In silver, it looks like a baby Boxster wearing a bowler hat and a pair of bell bottoms. In black, she s a bad-ass pocket rocket in skin tight 501 s. Saying that, in any hue, the Cayman s front angle is unrelentingly bland (there s a reason all head-on publicity shots are taken from the tarmac) and the rear three quarter is killer. As good as it is, Porsche should have spent the bread to recapture the 550-ness of the original Boxster concept. The Cayman s fit rather than fantastic.
The 295-horse 3.4-liter Cayman S is damn quick — or is that damned and quick? Now that Porsche s put the 911 into the federal horsepower protection program, the Cayman hasn t a hope in Hell in getting the shove it needs to off big brother and take its rightful place at the head of the family. Yes, the Cayman S is fast enough for government work (or at least evasion), but the depth of its talent WILL leave you wanting more. Specifically, it lacks low-end grunt. For G-force junkies, it s a problem. For anyone else, I m an over-privileged nutcase. (Uh-oh, here comes the BMW M Roadster )
Our test car s standard brakes hauled the wee beastie down from speed with voracious bite, perfect modulation and YOUR ADJECTIVE HERE indefatigability. I can t imagine any possible reason to add the wildly expensive ceramic stoppers, but then Porsche s performance options have a way of worming their way into your heart/checkbook and never, ever coming out.
There are oak trees that are less well planted than the Porsche Cayman S. Obviously, it s not a Lotus Elise, but then how many people want to drive a dinner tray on a public road? While the Cayman s standard 18 s and Michelin Pilot Sports are sufficiently compliant for daily driving, the set-up still sits on the hard riding side of the fence. We LIKE it.
We ve been saying that the Boxster S is more fun to drive at sane speeds than a 911 for some time. Now that Porsche s stiffened-up their pushmepullyoumobile and given it a new set of stones, we re ready to widen that claim. The Cayman is more precise going into a turn, more stable through the apex and more benign coming out (C4 and Turbo excepted). Sure, a 911 offers more post-corner blastitude (bloody power misers), but a Cayman s balance lets you go in faster. Anyway, screw all this 911 crap. The Cayman corners like nothing else on the road.
The six-speed is as precise as a calculator, with a shorter throw than a two-year-old's, but the feel s a tad too light for such a serious speed merchant.
(I forgot to turn on the radio.)
The Cayman IS a toy.
(Does it have one?)
[by Robert Farago]