Is the new Cayman S the best car Porsche's lineup?After the brilliant Boxster we wondered whether Porsche could get any better. It turns out that yes, it most certainly can.
I've got to start this one with an apology. You see, a while ago, I drove the Porsche Boxster and I said that I thought it was the best car Porsche makes. Turns out, in hindsight, I was very wrong because this is. This is the new Porsche Cayman. It was launched in 2012 and lots of people like it very much. This generation Cayman, as with the previous generation, shares quite a lot with the Boxster. Most noticeably, the look, which means that lots of people, cynics especially, were banging on about how it's just a Boxster with a roof. And they're almost right. The Cayman shares a fair few bits with the Boxster, its lights, nose, doors, rear lights, spoiler-- okay, quite a bit. But a fair few of those bits in the last generation Cayman was shared with the 911 as well. The new design has panels specially made for the Cayman and the Boxster, which is a wonderful thing. Because it means Porsche is taking the likes of the Boxster and the Cayman seriously. And as the first generation Cayman began to prove and this generation Cayman Boxster do prove that it's okay not to buy a 911 to get your Porsche kicks. The Cayman, like the Boxster, shares a platform with its mid-engine. Mid-engine cars are known for their balance, handling finesse and general excellence in the bends. Thanks to its mid-engine layout, you'll also get two boots, which makes it rather practical. One in the front, where the boot is in the 911, and one in the rear, where the engine is in a 911. You could feasibly use this as your one and only car. There's quite a bit of space here. Also, dare I say it, it's quite economical. Official figures peg it at 32.1 MPG. Now this is the bit where I usually look at the camera with some derisive face and I go, "And that's according to Porsche." But, I've been driving around this thing for the best part of the week now and I regularly see 30 MPG out of. And this is quite a young engine. It's only got 2,400 miles on it. So when it loosens up, it might actually manage that with some aplomb. Let's start with the big numbers. It's got a 3.4 liter flat-six engine. It's got 325 brake horsepower. Zero to 62 happens in five seconds. Their top speed is 175 miles an hour. So, it's pretty brisk then. But the big question is, what makes this better than the Boxster? Quite a few things, actually. You see, that little bit of extra power, it gives you a little bit more go. And it makes the whole car feel a little bit more complete. The gear box itself is great. It's not short shift, very direct. Brilliant. But the clutch is a little bit weird. It's easy enough to be pressed, but when you get to liftoff, you get halfway up and then it throws your foot away like some kind of spring-loaded cannon, which gets quite annoying in stop-start traffic. Not ideal. It's one of those things that may sort itself out as the car gets older. Or you may have to tinker it. Either way, a bit strange. One of my absolute highlights of this car isn't the handling. This isn't the power itself. The power is wonderful, always love power. That's always pretty, but it's the noise that this thing produces. It's got that hollow, six cylinder Porsche engine howl. It sounds like Chewbacca playing the didgeridoo. It's "oomph". It's one of those things that I absolutely adore about cars like this, especially in this one because its mid-engine, that noise comes from right behind your head, as I will then demonstrate. So, why the sudden change of heart? Just what makes the Cayman overall better car than the Boxster and 911? The Boxster S has 315 brake horsepower. Naught to 62 happens in 5.1 seconds, and its top speed is at 173 miles an hour. Then the Cayman S, the car in the middle, the new one. Well, that's got 325 brake horsepower. Naught to 62 occurs in five seconds. That, and its top speed at 175 miles an hour. Then the base 911, the Carrera, that's got 350 brake horsepower. Sixty-two is beaten in 4.8 seconds, and its top speed is 178. You see, the Cayman is right in the middle. It's incrementally better than the Boxster, but not quite as quick as the 911. And then you remember that they all have the same 3.4 liter six-cylinder engine. The Cayman then, especially in S [unk], just has the edge over the Boxster. It's just that little bit more fun. It's that little bit more engaging. Just a little bit more complete as a sports car. And personally, I think the roof makes it look a lot better as well. It makes its line just that little bit better. I was wrong about the Boxster being the best car that Porsche makes. And I'm perfectly happy to admit that because if Porsche keeps making stonkers like this, I'll happily be proved wrong again and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again.