SOMEWHERE IN the latest Porsche Cayman are 12 loudspeakers. How they’ve squeezed them in is anyone’s guess. It’s “the fastest concert hall in the world,” according to Hans Jürgen Wöhler, chief of mid-engined cars at Porsche. Despite the fact no one is going to buy this car for its audio system, Wöhler can barely contain his excitement, only just resisting the urge to headbang during the press presentation.
As I was driving the latest Cayman S through the mountain roads around Faro and at the Autodrome Algarve racetrack, it hadn’t once occured to me to turn on the audio system. Not with the howling racket that is coming from the engine. And make no mistake: the noise is the first thing you notice. The second is the speed.
The Cayman has been the car to beat since its introduction in 2005. Porsche has its work cut out to better a car that many people believe is already the purest Porsche currently in production. The Cayman only had itself to compete with.
The most obvious improvements are aesthetic. Its predecessor was awkward looking. This one is a sports car you’d buy for looks alone. For the first time, the Cayman rivals the iconic 911 for looks. It might even be the best-looking Porsche on the market.
It’s also in better physical shape. Weighing 30kg less than its predecessor, it is more powerful, has a body shell that is 40 per cent stiffer and is now almost twice as rigid as the latest Boxster. Stronger, lower, longer and wider, this Cayman promises even better handling.
I drove the Cayman S, with its 3.4-litre, six-cylinder Boxer engine (producing 321bhp), in both the six-speed manual transmission and seven-speed PDK automatic transmission versions. Gear changes are easier and quicker using the PDK version than they are using the manual. The PDK version is already proving a popular choice with Porsche buyers as it’s a faster, cleaner and more economical option. Purists may bark that a manual gearbox gives a more authentic driving experience, but the PDK system is now so good that arguments against it are increasingly less convincing.
Over two days in Portugal, the Cayman S proved to be an exceptionally enjoyable ride. With an acceleration time of zero to 62mph in just 4.7 seconds (my test cars were fitted with the Sport Chrono package), Porsche’s mid-engined, rear-wheel drive coupe certainly feels quick. But it’s on the bends that it is most impressive. Through twisting mountain roads it’s a wonderful car to drive quickly. It is agile, well-balanced and has a lot of grip.
The cockpit is well put together and essentially the same as the latest Boxster and 911 models. It’s comfortable, stylish and ergonomic. Best of all, with 425 litres of stowage room in the nose and the rear, there’s enough space for a week away.
The only difficult question is whether you should buy the 911, which is still very popular among City men, instead. I say save yourself thousands and go with the cheaper Cayman S. It’s easier on the eye – and the Burmester sound is pretty impressive too.
RIVALS WORTH CONSIDERING...
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