Porsche Cayman Mk 1, a retrospective

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This is the almost car. It never really set pulses racing in the way it should have, which is a shame. It's the car that made not owning a Porsche 911 okay because it was 99 percent as good, just not as big. This is the Porsche Cayman. And it's time to say goodbye, in a way. The first-generation Porsche Cayman is no more-- well, sort of. Its successor was announced in the 2012 L.A. Motor Show, marking the end for one of the most wonderful little cars that ever rolled out of Porsche's factory gate. So, it would be a shame not to learn a little bit more about it while we still have the chance. When it was first noted, the Cayman was dubbed a Boxster with a roof. While slightly dismissive, it would be wrong to completely ignore the idea. You see, the Cayman shared a chassis, engines, but not power outputs and an interior with its roofless sibling. It's big difference, family enough was its roof. Launched in 2005 in Cayman S trim, it came with a 3.4-liter Flat-6, 295 brake horsepower, a top speed just over 170 miles an hour. In 2007, the base Cayman rolled into view. That came with a 2.7-liter engine, 50 fuel horses, and a slightly lower top speed. But it was still fun. The Cayman fit neatly into Porsche's range. It was incrementally more powerful, therefore, more expensive than the open-top Boxster, yet cheaper and slightly less powerful than a 911. It was kinda like a stepping stone from the Boxster. So, let's start with the Boxster and your roof of the Cayman, then on your right to rear seats in a 911. Nice. Anyway, back to parts sharing. The Cayman shares bumpers and the like with the Boxster, but I bet you didn't know that it was designed with hints of 550 and 904 Coupé in it. So, maybe it's not just a Boxster with a roof. The interior is reminiscent of every Porsche from the mid to late 90s. But that roof does a little bit more than keeping rain off my head. It actually increases the car's [unk]. It's just that little bit, which makes it more fun. So much so that when the Cayman S was launched, Rally Legend Walter Röhrl took one on optional 19-inch alloys around the Nürburgring in just 8 minutes and 11 seconds, a full 4 seconds faster than the base 911 at that time. It's no wonder that it was noted the Cayman might actually steal sales from its bigger brother. In 2009, the Cayman was given a light facelift. Both the Cayman and Cayman S got power boost. The Caymans was thanks to a bigger 2.9-liter engine. More power meant more fun. It also meant the base Cayman, like the one we're in, could finally do the 0-62 run in less than 6 seconds, something that eluded its 2.7-liter predecessor. Also, long gone was the Tiptronic automatic gearbox. It was replaced by the Porsche double cab [unk] rider or PDK or jewel-clutch paddle shift, so you know, humans. That meant that the Cayman S was actually quicker to 62 miles an hour with the PDK than the manual. The facelift also introduced the more hardcore, more powerful Cayman R. It had less things in it to make it lighter. Its 0-62 time dropped beneath 5 seconds, and its top speed was way more of 170. But why was the Cayman so good? Because it's far, far more capable than you are. Its chassis can take more power. It makes an incredible noise. And it does one thing that a lot of others simply don't-- it makes you smile. You know, if you bought a Cayman, you've got yourself a performance car that has space comfy seats, incredible performance, and it's got a little bit of rarity the likes of the Boxster and the 911 simply don't have. The new Cayman is, again, based on the Boxster. It sits neatly in the middle of Porsche's sports car range and does look rather fine. But I'm gonna miss the first-generation Cayman. I'm gonna miss its shape. The fact that it's the first in hopefully a very long line. But most of all, I'm gonna miss the smile that it puts on my face.

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