BASE PRICE: $58,900
POWERTRAIN: 3.4-liter, 295-hp, 251-lb-ft H6; rwd, six-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 3152 lbs
0 TO 60 MPH: 5.1 seconds (mfr.)
We heard Porsche say the two-seat hardtop Cayman S wont eat into sales of its flagship 911, but we dont believe it. Not for a minutenot having just climbed out from behind the wheel of the Cayman S after flogging it through some of the tightest twisties in Italy. The car places high on our best drives ever list.
Cayman S stands out from Boxster and 911, says Anton Hunger, Porsche AGs public relations chief. 911 buyers are 911 buyers, and we are confident the cannibalization rate will be quite low. Maybe 3 percent. We are confident Boxster drivers will move up to the Cayman S. Okay, we buy the part about Boxster drivers moving upthe car is slotted between the Boxster S and 911 Carrera both in performance and pricebut if potential 911 buyers drive a Cayman S, we wonder about 911 sales. Cayman S is more Boxstersharing 40 percent of its partsthan 911, but Cayman S could be described as being more driver-oriented.
No question, the 911 Carrera is a sports car icon and something to be coveted. But it costs $13,000 more than the Cayman S, and from a performance standpoint is only marginally quicker (0.3 second quicker 0 to 60 mph). Unless you need those two tiny rear seatsand have to be 0.3 second quickerwe suggest opting for the Cayman S and pocketing the savings. With the Caymans hardtop and hatchback, you get nine cubic feet more storage space than in a Boxster and only slightly less than in a 911.
The mid-engined car is wonderfully balanced, with a 45/55 front/rear weight ratio, and a responsive, torquey 3.4-liter flat-six. Maximum torque is available from 4400 to 6000 rpm, and that allowed us to keep the car in second and third gear for much of our test run through Tuscany. The brakes are typically magnificent, and our test model didnt even have the optional ceramic rotors or monster 19-inch rubber.
Besides superior handling, one benefit of the mid-engine layout is the delightful noises that resound in the cockpit. The exhaust note combining with the mechanical song taking place right behind your ears makes for a wonderful aural experience, greatly adding to the driving thrills.
Porsche test pilot and former World Rally champ Walter Röhrl said Cayman S is just four seconds slower than a 911 around the eight-plus-mile-long Nord-schleife (though Röhrl told us last May the Cayman S was actually four seconds faster than 911), with the Cayman S making up for a 30-hp deficit with its superb handling. Simple, straightforward, great to drive, Röhrl said. We couldnt agree more.