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Porsche Cayman S PDF Print E-mail

Britain’s Autocar described it as a ‘brilliant new Porsche’; the Financial Times said the Cayman was ‘the most sublime and capable car Porsche has ever built’.  But I don’t like it!

Strolling past the Porsche stand at last October’s Tokyo show with a colleague (also a Phuket resident), he remarked: “It’s a girlie car …”.

Porsche Cayman S
Porsche Cayman S
The truth of the matter is that the new Porsche Cayman is basically a Boxster coupé; and it does not work.  True it is extremely quick and has the usual Porsche refinement, and because it is mid-engined it handles better – particularly in the wet – than the more twitchy, rear-engined Porsche 911.  But it somehow lacks a presence that the 911 has possessed for more than 40 years.

Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson said, “It has no sense of passion.”  And that about sums it up:  on paper, even on the road, it performs well, handles impeccably and makes all the right noises, but somehow it lacks that indefinable something.

The Porsche people, perhaps understandably, do not refer to the Cayman as a ‘Boxster Coupé’; they maintain it is a standalone model.  They say its chassis is as much as 150 percent stiffer than the Boxster, offering improved handling and roadholding, with no loss of comfort.

The engine is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Cayman S: a 3.4 litre, horizontally opposed six, developing 295 bhp (217 kW), the Cayman can accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in an amazing 5.4 seconds, and on to a top speed of 275 km/h.

The six-cylinder block is based on the 3.2 liter unit from the Boxster S, but is fitted with the cylinder heads and VarioCam system from the 911 Carrera.  This variable valve management improves mid-range torque, peaking at 340 Nm between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm.

The suspension is stiffer than the Boxster with firmer dampers.  In addition, Porsche’s highly acclaimed stability management system is fitted, which incorporates traction and skid control.  Active suspension is optional, allowing the driver to select a variety of damper settings according to the conditions. Also optional are ceramic composite brakes, although the regular discs are cross-drilled and internally vented.  The ceramic brakes are a massive 350 mm in diameter but are considerably lighter than the normal steel ones. Six airbags offer maximum passive safety, including head and thorax bags, while there are the usual belt pre-tensioners and belt force limiters.

Porsche Cayman S
Porsche Cayman S
Although the Cayman S is larger than the Boxster, it is still strictly a two-seater with the space behind the seats filled with engine; the trunk is behind that.  There is also another, smaller luggage compartment at the front.

Porsche maintains the styling of the Cayman is reminiscent of the famed Porsche 550 Coupé Le Mans racer of 1953.  Ironically the iconic status of the 550 was confirmed by James Dean’s tragic accident in 1955.  The front end is unmistakably Boxster-inspired, although its separate foglamps set into the air intakes add a touch of distinction, but the rear treatment is unique to the Cayman despite the use of Boxster lights.  Inside the car it is 99 percent Boxster, as is the windshield, although this is set lower and further back.

The performance of the Cayman S is certainly impressive: Porsche claims it can lap the Nordschleif, the northern circuit of the Nurburgring, in just 8.20 minutes – faster than a Boxster and only marginally slower than a 911 Carrera.  It is still the styling that in this critic’s view lets the new car down.  But whether you love it or hate it, the Cayman is undoubtedly going to be a huge success for Porsche, reinforcing its position as the most profitable auto maker in the world.

-JH 

 

 

 
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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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