Top speed video (170 mph/275 km/h)
Parking Lot Drifting Video
Engine revving video
A few weeks back, I found myself in an enviable position...an empty Autobahn and the keys to a shiny new Porsche Cayman S. What to do? Mash my right foot into the floorboard and not look back.
First off, let's talk about the looks. For Porsche aficionados, the shape is familiar and pleasing. From the front it bears strong resemblance to its 997 Carrera big brother. For me, this is the best way to view the car. From the side, one can also see the family lines. From the rear at times is a look I don't find pleasing. The rear hatch sits too flat and the rear "hips" are a little too round. The tail needs more 993 Porsche turbo and less Boxster. As with the Boxster, there is a small low profile tail spoiler which automatically rises at highway speeds. The spoiler can also be raised manually from the cockpit.
Upon entry, you're greeted with a cozy and well appointed interior. Most pieces and features are standard Porsche issue. It's a nice step up from the last 996 Turbo I drove. I haven't yet been in a 997, so I'm not able to draw any comparisons to that. The in-dash navigation system is fairly quick to maneuver, intuitive, and utilizes an aesthetically pleasing GUI. The speedometer is still more form than function thus "at-a-glance" readability suffers. Thankfully, there is a redundant digital speedo readout in the bottom of the tachometer. The seats are comfy and offer moderate support. However, the seats in other vehicles around the same price class (RS4, M3, etc) offer arguably better lateral support. The side bolsters are not as aggressive as I'd like to see in a car with such sporting intentions.
Turn the key located on the left side of the wheel (something that fools me EVERY TIME I climb into a Porsche), and the 3.4 liter flat-6 mill churns to life. It emits a nice purr at idle. It's not exactly loud, but it is obvious that the engine is just inches from your back. Wrap the throttle and it spools right up to the 7200 RPM rev limit. It doesn't spool up as quick as let's say, the 8250 RPM Audi RS4...but it obviously loves to rev. There is certainly no lag in the drive by wire system.
When you ease the comfortably weighted clutch and slide the smooth shifter into 1st, you can't help but notice the user-friendliness of the drivetrain. The clutch is fantastic and the gearbox is hard to fault. Occasionally, one can accidentally downshift into 4th instead of 2nd , but that's easy to avoid once you take note of the tendency. The foot pedals are properly positioned for heel-toe downshifting.
Once underway, the topic comes back to the engine. Oh my. What a wonderful thing it is. Admittedly, it's not an overly powerful or brutal powerplant by any means. In fact, it can feel rather flat footed between idle and 3500 RPM's. The torque is really no better than adequate. After 4000 RPM though, it quickly becomes into its own. The smooth and visceral 291 hp flat boxer six emits a sonorous wail into the cockpit that cannot be described. Under WOT, you will get tingles down your spine. You crave extra gears to shift...just so you can let the revs can drop, the Vario-cam can switch back over, and run the fluid smooth engine through the operating range one more time. Perhaps a byproduct of the mid-engine hatchback chassis layout, the engine note reverberates and sings its song in a way that cannot be described. The power delivery is very smooth, progressive, and predictable. The throttle calibration is brilliantly tuned. Compared to a turbo car which can deliver torque in lump quantities...you really feel you have precise control over the power transmitted to the rear axle.
What about those brakes? Well, there isn't a modern day Porsche on the road that can't outbrake just about anything. Porsche has always over engineered their braking systems (Their common rule of thumb is the braking system must be capable of dissipating 4 times the engine horsepower), and the Cayman S is no exception. The pedal feel is very firm and the amount of braking force is amazingly easy to modulate.
The particular car I drove is equipped with Porsche's PASM stability control and traction control system. It did a decent job of preventing wheelspin on the slick and damp German country roads. The system has an "off switch"...but in typical Porsche fashion, the system isn't truly off. I encountered a couple of instances of wheelspin at 60+ mph where the system would intervene slightly when the tail got a little out of line, even with the system supposedly turned off. C'mon Porsche, let us choose our own fate.
On the Autobahn, the car accelerates with authority, but would never be confused with brutally fast. It does leave you lusting for more, but is hardly inadequate. On paper performance is a 0-60 time of 5 seconds and a low 13 second quarter mile. In not much more than a minute's time, the tach was inching into the red zone in 6th gear. The speedometer read me an overly-optimistic (another Porsche "feature") value of 282 km/h (175 mph). My trusty Garman GPS gave me the real scoop...275 km/h (171 mph). At this speed, the stability was quite good, although the front tires did tend to tramline slightly within the lane ruts. I kept my foot in it and made the trip from Köln to Bonn in near record time.
After some Autobahn work, it was time to bring the Cayman into its real element. I exited the Autobahn and began to explore the meandering backroads of Nordrhein-Westfalen's Bergisches Land. Here is where the Cayman really shined. You immediately notice how firm the suspension and chassis is. In fact, the chassis rigidity is twice as stiff as the Boxster S. Body roll is a non issue. During turn in, the chassis very slightly settles in and just plain sticks. I was very impressed at the level of grip the car affords, even when the road wasn't dry. Turn in could have been slightly sharper, but this is nothing an aggressive alignment couldn't solve. Driver feedback is excellent and the car is very communicative at the limit. The mid engine configuration is much more forgiving in regards to tail out oversteer antics compared to the rear engined 911 big brother. Despite the lack of a limited slip differential, I never had any problems getting power to both wheels or getting the tail out. Perhaps the deficiency of this feature would become more apparent if I was on a dry race track driving at Stig velocities.
To sum this brief review up, I really liked the Cayman S. I liked it more than I thought it would. On paper, the specs are not anything overly impressive...especially given the price. Once behind the wheel, the car ends up being more than the sum of its specifications. Everything works harmoniously together. It's the brilliant power delivery. It's the beautiful wail under WOT. It's the velvety gearbox. It's the progressive and minutely adjustable brakes. It's the entire package together that makes the car so enjoyable to drive. If you must have the fastest car on the road, this is not the car for you. It's not. If you enjoy an involving driving experience with a car that is eager to play, always begging you to go faster, and gentle enough to keep your confidence high...the Cayman S may be a good fit. Short of the GT3, the Cayman S may be the best "driver's car" in the Porsche lineup.
Type: flat-6, aluminum block and heads
Bore x stroke: 3.78 x 3.07 in, 96.0 x 78.0mm
Displacement: 207 cu in, 3387cc
Compression ratio: 11.1:1
Fuel-delivery system: port injection
Valve gear: chain-driven double overhead cams,
4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters,
variable intake-valve timing and lift
Power (SAE net): 291 bhp @ 6250 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 251 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Redline: 7200 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Final-drive ratio: 3.88:1
Gear - Ratio - Mph/1000 rpm - Max speed in gears
I - 3.31 - 5.9 - 43 mph (7200 rpm)
II - 1.95 - 10.0 - 72 mph (7200 rpm)
III - 1.41 - 13.9 - 100 mph (7200 rpm)
IV - 1.13 - 17.3 - 125 mph (7200 rpm)
V - 0.97 - 20.2 - 145 mph (7200 rpm)
VI - 0.82 - 23.9 - 171 mph (7150 rpm)
Wheelbase: 95.1 in
Track, front/rear: 58.5/60.2 in
Length/width/height: 170.9/70.9/51.4 in
Ground clearance: 4.3 in
Drag area, Cd (0.29) x frontal area (21.3 sq ft): 6.2 sq ft
Curb weight (C/D est): 3100 lb
Weight distribution, F/R (C/D est): 48/52%
Curb weight per horsepower (C/D est): 10.7 lb
Fuel capacity: 16.9 gal
Type: unit construction
Body material: welded steel stampings
SAE volume, seats: 48 cu ft
luggage: 14 cu ft
Seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle;
driver only: front height, rear height, lumbar support
Restraint system: manual 3-point belts; driver and passenger front, side, and head airbags
Front: ind, strut located by a control arm, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear: ind, strut located by 1 trailing link and 2 lateral links, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Type: rack-and-pinion with variable hydraulic power assist
Steering ratio: 17.1:1-13.8:1
Turns lock-to-lock: 2.6
Turning circle curb-to-curb: 36.4 ft
Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist and
Front: 12.5 x 1.1-in vented and cross-dilled disc
Rear: 11.8 x 0.9-in vented and cross-drilled disc
WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheel size: F: 8.0 x 19 in, R: 9.5 x 19 in
Wheel type: cast aluminum
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport PS2; F: 235/35ZR-19 (87Y), R: 265/35ZR-19 (94Y)
Test inflation pressures, F/R: 37/37 psi
C/D TEST RESULTS
Zero to 30 mph: 1.8
40 mph: 2.6
50 mph: 3.9
60 mph: 5.1
70 mph: 6.3
80 mph: 8.2
90 mph: 10.0
100 mph: 12.0
110 mph: 15.0
Street start, 5-60 mph: 5.7
Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 8.2
50-70 mph: 6.6
Standing 1/4-mile: 13.4 sec @ 105 mph
Top speed (drag limited, mfr's claim): 171 mph
70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 147 ft
European urban cycle: 15 mpg
extra-urban cycle: 30 mpg
combined: 22 mpg
C/D-observed: 18 mpg
INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
Idle: 53 dBA
Full-throttle acceleration: 86 dBA
70-mph cruising: 76 dBA