2014 Porsche Cayman S first drive
Is this the best Porsche ever?
Faro, Portugal – Everything you need to know about the new 2014 Porsche Cayman can be summed up in one lap around the FJ-spec Autodromo Internacional Algarve race track, here in the sunny south of Portugal.
As part of the global launch of Porsche’s latest entry-level sports car, the German automaker had us media types in a slew of new, top-line 2014 Cayman S models playing follow-the-leader behind various Porsche corporate hot shots — including four-time Monte Carlo Rally winner Walter Röhrl — leading in Porsche 911 Carreras.
We already knew the Cayman S with the optional Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (or PDK) autobox can scoot from rest to 100 km/h only a tenth of a second behind the 911, which costs 25 per cent more. But around the very fast — and very long — Autodromo track, little brother Cayman S had no problem nipping at the heels of the 911; in fact, after I got comfortable with the Portuguese circuit, I was able to start playing with the mid-engine Cayman S’s attitude in some of the track’s blind, off-camber corners — something I would never attempt in the more intimidating, rear-engine 911.
While only a few Cayman customers will ever fully explore the car’s on-track capabilities, the rest of the changes Porsche has wrought upon its second-generation sports car have made it not only a better driver’s car, but also a more fuel efficient and comfortable car. You know, for those days when you’re not chasing former rally champions around a racetrack. Let’s get this over with now: the new 2014 Cayman may be the Best Damn Porsche Ever.
More Cayman, same price
Admittedly, the 2014 Cayman isn’t an overnight sensation. Since the original, two-seat, mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive Cayman arrived in 2006 as a sort-of-Boxster hardtop, it has been hailed as arguably the purest driver’s car in a Porsche lineup now filled with SUVs (Cayenne and forthcoming Macan) and luxury hatchbacks (Panamera). As well, with Porsche pushing the latest 911 Carrera up in size, there’s room now for the Cayman to grow up a bit too.
Like its cloth-top brother, the new-generation Boxster roadster that premiered last year, the hardtop Cayman is a bit wider and longer than its predecessor, sits on a longer wheelbase and has wider wheel tracks. Where Porsche didn’t grow the Cayman was its price. The base model Cayman starts at $59,900, while the more powerful Cayman S starts at $72,900. Also returning with only minor changes is the Cayman’s two-engine lineup. As before, the starter Cayman mill is a 2.7-litre flat-six making 275 hp (up 10 over the 2013 model) and 214 lb.-ft. of torque, while the Cayman S is powered by a 3.4-litre flat-six (essentially a de-tuned version of the engine found in the $96,200 911 Carrera) that makes 325 hp and 273 lb.-ft. Both are available with either a six-speed manual transmission or the PDK seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Despite the slight increases in size and engine outputs, the new Cayman gets a brake-based energy-recovery system, state-of-the-art thermal management system, lighter chassis and start/stop technology, which Porsche says reduces fuel consumption by up to 15 per cent overall; Transport Canada fuel economy figures have not been released yet. Yet straight-line performance has not suffered. The slowest Cayman from 0-100 km/h is a 2.7 with the stick, which takes 5.7 seconds. At 4.9 seconds — only 0.1 seconds slower than the $23,300 more expensive 911 Carrera — the quickest is the Cayman S with the PDK autobox and the optional Sports Chrono package that offers a launch control feature.
A bit more room, a bit more luxury
There are no surprises with the new Cayman’s interior. It’s essentially the same found in last year’s new Boxster, where you’ll discover a large central information screen and a sloping centre console. Also as in the Boxster, larger occupants will appreciate the Cayman cabin’s added width. Larger, more supportive seats and larger rear side windows improve rear visibility. Subjectively the Cayman doesn’t feel like Porsche’s “entry-level” model. Fit and finish and use of quality armorials are on par with the 911.
You won’t use the compact Cayman to move into your new condo, but new styling with a lengthened rear hatch lid offers better access to the rear cargo area. Rear cargo capacity of the two-seater has been increased incrementally by 15 litres to 275 litres when loaded to the roof, plus there’s the 150 litres available in the second, smaller trunk at the front.