Porsche continues its model line-up refresh with the long awaited release of the mid-engined, lightweight Cayman. It's a familiar story: weight is down, power is up and the list of standard equipment has burgeoned but can it really be better than the critically acclaimed Cayman of old?
AOL Cars took a trip to the winding roads of northern Scotland to find out...
>What is it?
An updated and overhauled version of Porsche's mid-engined, tin-top road racer that nicely plugs the gap between the entry-level Boxster and the fiery 911. The Cayman has always held a special place in the hearts of petrolheads thanks to its superb chassis, high-revving engine and attractive price tag. However, the latest iteration is up £1,134 on the Cayman S model and £487 on the standard 2.7-litre iteration.
What's under the bonnet?
Engine choice should really be decided by ones' driving style. The entry-level 2.7 flat-six is an absolute screamer of a power plant, requiring the driver to firmly plant their right foot and max out the revs through every gear. It's bags of fun but demands absolute focus on challenging routes - particularly in manual models - as the lack of torque in the lower rev range fails to forgive poor gear selection upon exiting a speedy corner. The Cayman S with its 3.4-litre unit is far more punchy in third and fourth gear, offering an extra 80Nm of torque over the 2.7 and shaving 0.6 seconds off the 0-62mph sprint time.
Standard equipment is slightly improved over the previous model with the German firm now offering luxuries such as a 7" touch-screen display, automatic headlight activation and an auxiliary slot in the glovebox but it is in no way lavished with goodies. The interior of the S receives partial leather upholstery and the cabin in both models feels fairly special. The front seats have been improved and they now offer both support on the twisty stretches and comfort on the long haul but expect to part with a hefty wedge if you go crazy with the options list. Ceramic brakes: £5,000. Two-zone climate control: £518. Automatic dimming rear view mirror: £332. The sub £40,000 asking price of the bog standard Cayman can soon rocket to the mid-£50,000s.
The market for fiery mid-engined tin-tops is remarkably sparse with manufacturers such as Lotus offering the Evora S (and the emotional baggage of a struggling company) and Nissan providing a cheaper alternative in the 370Z. A BMW Z4 M Coupe would have previously given the Porsche a run for its money but we honestly think there is nothing as dynamic as the Cayman currently available for a similar price.
What's it like to drive?
In one word: astonishing. The Cayman may only by 30kg lighter than its predecessor but boy, is it noticeable. The use of advanced, weight-saving materials has also increased the torsional rigidity by an impressive 40%, resulting in a car that can happily take corners at spleen-bursting speeds. It is the motoring equivalent of a large scoop of Persil in your washing machine. Enter a bend with the ham-fisted scrappiness of a complete novice and it somehow propels you out of the other side cleaner than a pair of boiled pants. Couple this chassis with the screaming 2.7-litre engine and the lightning-quick PDK gearbox, hunt down some winding open roads and you have the perfect - albeit expensive - cure for manic depression.
The AOL Cars verdict
The Cayman is a superb machine that manages to include all of the endearing characteristics of the previous model but offer another level of refinement and practicality that enables it to be used everyday. Options are still extremely expensive and the ceramic brakes are a must for enthusiastic drivers, but a barebones Cayman at £39, 694 on the road is a very attractive proposition for those who like their corners sharp and roads open.
Model: Porsche Cayman (S)
Price: £39,694 (£48,783)
Engine: 2.7 litre flat six (3.4 litre flat six)
Power: 275bhp (325bhp)
Max speed: 164mph (175mph)
0-62mph: 5.6 seconds (5 seconds)
MPG: 36.7 combined (32.1 combined)
Emissions: 180g/km CO2 (206g/km CO2)