Porsche I’m driving has no air conditioning and no audio system. The last time I drove a car without HVAC and an audio system was in 1987, and it was a Mini built 15 years earlier. It didn’t usually manage to go very far and certainly not anywhere fast.
Which isn’t the case with the Porsche Cayman R I’m sitting in. I’ve been virtually sleeping in it. My backside is taking on the form of its sports bucket seat. You see, I haven’t really wanted to get out of it. I’ve found the most ludicrous excuses to drive it. I’ve driven to Saffron Walden for dinner, to Peterborough for a newspaper and to Cambridge for a coffee. I even decided to travel 40 miles to fill up on fuel. And all from my house in North London.
The car I’ve been driving is painted in a kind of semi-luminous lime green colour. On the side are the least understated lettering decals possible. They spell out Porsche just in case anyone hasn’t noticed. The only way it could attract more attention would be if Scarlett Johansson was topless in the passenger seat next to me yelling at gawping bystanders.
Which is unnecessary because this car is so good it was always going to get talked about. Sure, its shape is imperfect. Its domed roof is a little too tall and its gills too prominent to be considered a truly handsome beast. But beast it is – just look at the figures. Porsche has reduced the weight, increased the horsepower and improved the agility and handling to create the Cayman R. It weighs 55kg less than the regular Cayman S. There is no air conditioning, no audio (though they can be ordered as options), and it has a bunch of lightweight parts including slimmer, lighter wheels, and seats that weigh less. The doors are made of alloy and there are no door handles, just some fetching red door straps. Together these weight savings mean the Cayman R is more agile than the already very nimble Cayman S. Also it’s more powerful. Its 3.5-litre flat six engine – and what a noise it makes – is now 330hp, up from 320hp. Add to that a 20mm lower ride and a remapped engine – plus a bunch of other important tweaks too dull to list unless you’re absolutely into the minutia of petrolhead geekery – and you have one very special car.
The car’s performance hits something of a sweet spot for me too. This manual Cayman R has a 0-62mph acceleration time of 5.0 seconds, the steering is utterly direct and the car feels perfectly balanced. It’s eminently chuckable thanks to so much grip and though Porsche’s stability management system kicks in in the end, it doesn’t feel like it’s snatching your enjoyment away with it first.
In short, the Cayman R is brilliant. I cannot work out why anyone would ever buy a 911 when the Cayman R is this good, and frankly easier to drive. I’m wondering if I would ever need a 911. And the answer is no. The Porsche Cayman R is everything I need. Just please, not in lime.
THE FACTS: PORSCHE CAYMAN R
TOP SPEED: 175MPH
CO2 G/KM: 221G/KM
MPG COMBINED: 29.1MPG
VALUE FOR MONEY ****