Porsche Cayman S 2013: Launch Review

22 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Porsche Cayman S 2013: Launch Review

Porsche Cayman

Porsche Cayman

S 2013: Launch Review

Porsche Cayman S

International Launch

New grown-up look

Not so much:

Significantly more dollars than Boxster. Why?

RRP only a starting point. There’ll be plenty of $200K Caymans

Now I’m clutching at straws


— Keeping the lid on

Porsche’s Cayman and Boxster are inextricably linked. Any other carmaker would use the same model name and sell the cars as cabrio and coupe. Then again any other car company would charge more for the soft top and deliver the coupe at a lower price.

Not Porsche.

Cayman was born of the Boxster and it now follows the third generation of the former into production. And like its soft-top non-identical twin, it has come of age. No longer should this car be perceived as a poor man’s 911.

With serious performance, an impeccable chassis and looks that firmly place it out of the pink nursery and into the blue-for-boys playground, the Cayman is a sportscar par excellence.


— Boxster plus dollars

Pricing for the new 981 Series Cayman was announced late last year (2012). There was little surprise that it is more expensive than its Boxster stablemate – that’s the way Porsche has priced the coupe since its introduction .

The range kicks off with the six-speed manual Cayman priced from $115,500. That’s an increase of only $400 on the previous generation, but a substantial $8500 more expensive than the equivalent Boxster. Porsche seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) dual-clutch automated manual transmission steps the entry-level Cayman up to $120,800.

Move on up to the Cayman S and the inter-generational increment moves to $2900, and the margin between cabrio and coupe to a hefty $17,100. At $150,400 for the manual and $155,700 for the PDK-equipped version, the S can hardly wear the ‘entry-level Porsche label’ most still place on the Cayman.

Porsche justifies the extra dollars for the Cayman simply as positioning. That’s the way it is – despite the fact more than one Porsche executive admitted the Boxster costs more than the Cayman to build.

Some value may be attributed to the fact the Cayman has marginally more power and torque than the Boxster in both standard and S versions (see MECHANICAL below), but for an extra 7kW these are hefty increments.

At both grade levels Cayman and Boxster differ little in terms of equipment, Porsche Australia says. Full details of standard equipment loading will be announced closer to the car’s local launch in late April.

A myriad of options will be available. The most commonly chosen include Sport Chrono pack, sports exhaust, sunroof and wheel options.

Firsts for Cayman this generation include optional adaptive cruise control (PDK cars only) and keyless entry and start.


— Put a lid on it

Porsche direct-injected horizontally-opposed (flat) sixes present in perhaps their most polished and sweetest forms in the Cayman.

Like the Boxster, the base Cayman’s engine is downsized from 2.9 to 2.7 litres. It produces an impressive 202kW at 7400 rpm. Torque tops out at 290Nm from 4500-6000rpm.

This is 7kW and 10Nm up on the Boxster – though the soft top’s power peak is 700rpm lower (max torque revs are the same).

Porsche claims a 0-100km/h time of 5.7sec for the base manual Cayman and a top speed of 266km/h. 0-200km/h takes 21sec. The PDK equipped Cayman is 0.1sec quicker 0-100km/h and the optional Sport Plus package reduces that a further 0.2sec.

Fuels economy is 8.2L/100km. The PDK is more frugal at 7.7L/100km.

The S variant is bigger in bore (97mm vs. 89) and stroke (77.5mm vs. 72.5) for a capacity of 3.4 litres.

Power tops out at 239kW (also 7kW up on the cabrio at the same revs and differential as the base car), while torque is also 10Nm up on Boxster S at 370Nm.

Porsche claims a 0-100km/h time of 5.0sec for the manual Cayman S and a top speed of 283km/h. 0-200km/h takes 17.2sec. The PDK equipped Cayman S is 0.2sec quicker 0-100km/h and the optional Sport Plus package reduces that a further 0.2sec.

Fuels economy is 8.8L/100km. The PDK uses 0.8L/100km less on the combined cycle.

In both standard and S versions the ‘hardware’ in the engine rooms are the same. The power and torque curves are massaged via ignition and cam timing changes.

Idle stop-start is standard on all Caymans. A coasting function decouples engine and gearbox on the overrun on PDK equipped Cayman’s to help reduce fuel consumption. The watercooled Boxer sixes also reprise the 911’s new thermal management system for faster warm-up which in turn reduces wear and emissions.

As noted above, both variants are offered with choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK gearboxes. The manuals get bespoke internal gear ratios for the base and S but both versions share their final drive ratios and PDK internals.

Cayman offers a Sport mode as standard. In manual cars this changes engine mapping and disables the idle stop-start. PDK cars also get a gearbox program tweak.

This function should not be confused with the optional Sport Chrono pack that comprise dynamic engines mounts, new (introduced in Carrera 4) downshift engine rev matching in manual versions, and launch control on PDK cars. Oh, and a dashtop-mounted clock.

The coupes share the same aluminium-rich structure as their roadster partners. The design is a mid-engined layout (the 911 remains a rear-engined design, for those sitting Porsche 101) with struts at all four corners. The front is a conventional MacPherson design while the rear set up adds tie rods and transverse and longitudinal control arms.

Much of the Cayman’s suspension compentry is aluminium and Porsche claims 44 per cent of the body in white is also aluminium. Magnesium castings are used (though as support structures for interior rather than structural components) as well as high and ultra-high strength steel. Alloy panels include doors and front and rear ‘bonnets’.

Porsche says almost 7kg was saved in the shift to aluminium for the rear hatchback alone. Indeed the company claims this generation is around 30kg lighter than the previous model but around 40 per cent stiffer in terms of body rigidity. Cayman’s body in white has more than twice the torsional rigidity of the Boxster.

That’s not a criticism of the Boxster, rather evidence of the bank-vault security of the coupe.

Like the 991 Series 911, the latest Cayman features electrically assisted power steering. As we found in the Boxster, this only adds to the driving experience – Porsche has this EPAS game nailed.

The Cayman and Cayman S now roll on 18 and 19-inch alloys respectively. Up to 20-inch diameter hoops are offered optionally in a range of styles.

Brakes are upgraded across the board. In the case of the Cayman S, the four wheels discs are from the 911 parts bin. Ceramic composites are available as an eye-wateringly expensive option.

Porsche Torque Vectoring is also optional. Check out our 911 launch review for more on how this feature works.

— Room to move

Boxster and Cayman share architecture and the lion’s share of mechanicals. No surprise then that the same dimensional changes that Porsche wrought on the Boxster last year are carried through to the latest Cayman.

At 2475mm the new car’s wheelbase in 60mm longer than the outgoing generation (and longer in fact than the new 991 Series 911), track is broader front and rear (36-40mm depending on model) and overall length is up 33mm. The front overhang has been shortened, the roof is marginally lower and the car gets a ‘faster’ windscreen that’s 100mm further forward than the old generation.

Perhaps the best way to put the new Cayman in context is to compare it with 911s old and new. Longer and just a fraction narrower is terms of wheel-to-wheel dimensions than the new 991, the Cayman is almost a whole class of vehicle larger than the last of the air-cooled 911s, the 993 Series. The new coupe’s wheelbase is a whopping 203mm longer, while front and rear track are 120/100m wider respectively.

The Cayman’s styling carries through the Boxster’s more masculine lines with strong shoulders and deep scallops in the pillarless doors that channel air to the mid-mounted engine and cooling ducts.

The headlamps look straight from the Boxster parts bin and deliver a taster of next year’s 918 Spyder supercar – at least in prototype form. The staggered lamps are also reminiscent of great Porsche mid-engined racers of the past like the 917 and 956 series. They feature four element daylight running lamps – a new Cayman ‘signature’, the company says.

The new styling is claimed to reduce aero lift by 25 per cent and drag – now 0.30Cd.

But forgive me if I desert the technical and suggest there’s just a little of modern 246 Dino in the way the Cayman presents – especially in the hero colour Racing Yellow.

The side scoops, the nose with paired outboard intakes and the subtle dome to the roofline, combined with a hint of buttress and rear deck lid to evoke a touch of Maranello in my eyes. It’s a much more convincing styling job than the push-me pull-you double ended look of previous Boxsters and Caymans.

Inside there’s room for two. And that’s it. No 2+2 apologies here. The wheelbase stretch has imparted more room to the cabin which features a Carrera GT inside ‘waterfall’ centre console and the series’ three-gauge instrument panel (911s have traditionally featured five).

Both versions deliver top-notch build quality that is trademark Zuffenhausen.

Infotainment, smart phone integration and navigation duties are handled by the same seven-inch touch screen used in Boxster and other Porsche models. Local Caymans will arrive with satnav standard and smart phone integration across the range.

The mid-engine layout delivers Cayman something almost unique in the sportscar world – luggage space. Up front there’s room for two cabin luggage sized suitcases while under the hatchback style rear deck, the rear deck offers roof for a couple of soft bags and some oddment storage.

Does this matter? Probably adds to the amenity for owners, but if you’re looking to haul kitchen sinks then alas I reckon you’ve come to the wrong place.

— Active safety – a Porsche standard

Porsche does not take part in the NCAP scheme, but I’d be as happy to crash in one as any of the ‘safety focussed’ brands that sprout stars and scores. They tend to be built like brick outhouses. Anyway isn’t the idea to avoid obstacles and use the car’s dynamic abilities to stay in one piece?

Rhetorical question commenters!

Cayman comes equipped with six airbags and the normal suite of driver aids including staged stability control and multi-function, high performance antilock brakes. Of particular note is how effective the stability control is. Subtle in its application, it allows a keen driver to wring the neck of the Cayman.

Confident that he or she has a safety net – even at the track.

For the road, Porsche Active Safe (PAS) is now offered in Cayman – as an adjunct to optional adaptive cruise control (but only in PDK equipped cars). PAS will detect and warn the driver of a potential nose to tail and if necessary augment braking effect but unlike systems from other companies (e.g. Volvo) it will not brake the car autonomously to a standstill.

— On paper some, but in the real world?

Porsche suggests Audi TT RS, BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK in their various guises. But that’s their official line – in the real world there are different sales influences, they say.

Insiders suggest Cayman and Boxster attract many aspirational buyers to the brand – especially at the base car level. Unlike the 911 where the main seller is the Carrera S, in Cay-ster land it’s the entry-level car that moves.

Those same insiders say Cayman S is often cross shopped with BMW M3.

In Australia almost as many Caymans are sold as Boxster – that’s not the case worldwide Porsche Australia says it should move around 200 Caymans in the cars first full year on sale. Are you tempted enough to be one of those buyers?

— Here I go gushing

. Because if you have any interest in owning one of the world’s best sports cars, you should be.

Even though it is much more polished in this generation, the Cayman is essentially rawer than the 911. In part, imprisoning that wonderfully sonorous flat-six engine under the same roof as the driver ensures that’s the case. It’s right behind your ears and it never lets you forget that.

Open the optional sports exhausts, drop back a gear or two and accelerate hard into a Porsche heaven.

Yours truly sampled the Cayman S on the Algarve’s stunning Portamao’s circuit and the equally entrancing roads of the region.

On the track the S is the new tool to have. The PDK might be faster but the manual version’s downshift rev matching allows you extra attention to learn the track’s challenging lines and arguably is the best of both worlds – delivering the true three-pedal manual experience with some of the ‘security’ of the PDK’s smarts.

Most buyers will opt for the twin-clutch PDK transmission. We’d not be among them. The Cayman’s slick shifting, tight gated six-speeder is a joy to use and somehow adds to the whole ‘true’ sports car experience.

With prodigious levels of grip and preternatural balance any dummy can drive the Cayman fast. Very fast. It turns in which such unerring accuracy and absolute neutrality that the nut behind the wheel has no choice other than to fess up to his or her own mistakes.

The car makes few if any mistakes without help.

Portamao is possessed of a number of long blind and/or flat to off-camber corners yet the Cayman is at home on every one of them. The long downhill looping right-hander on to the straight has an almost blind over-the-crest entry yet every lap I felt like the car could have gone through there faster. So much grip, so much precision.

Am I gushing?

Porsche claims this 981 S is 11sec faster round Nürburgring than the outgoing generation at 7m55sec (the Carrera S does 7:40). I’m prepared to suggest that it is probably half as intimidating to lap the Green Hell at 90 per cent effort to boot.

At the limit of the tyres (only approached once they were hot and with a fair degree of hamfistedness) the chassis electronic come in with a subtlety that barely dims forward progress. Only heroes or halfwits will turn these aids off on the road (or at most track days for the matter).

On the road, given the car’s high level of body control and roadholding, its ride is impressive. Even on 20-inch wheel and low profile rubber. There’s no doubt in my mind you could happily drive your Cayman every day of the year and not tire of its manners.

On some surfaces the tyre thrum can get a touch wearing in the cabin and the optional sports exhaust switch can make the tone a little droney. But, like my luggage space comment, if you’re after quiet and cosseting, you’ve again come to the wrong place.

It’s easy to argue from our side of the fence that we’ll pay too much for the Cayman compared to enthusiasts in other parts of the world. What’s harder to argue is that we’d be wrong in doing so.

Even at $150K plus the Cayman S is a stunningly competent and compelling sportscar.

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Published. Friday, 15 February 2013

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