Day four of our Road Test of the Year coverage sees James Baggott taking to the wheel of the Porsche Cayman S. It's underpowered compared to some of the big-hitters we've assembled, but will its sublime chassis balance and driver interaction win through?
It wasn't until day two that I got a proper chance to get behind the wheel of the bright yellow Porsche. I'd snaffled the keys to the JLR pairing for the trip to Wales, enjoying the F-Type's charms and Range Rover's comfort for the slog to our favourite driving roads, saving the Cayman S for a decent blast on testing Tarmac.
Bagging the keys at breakfast, I settled in as the six-cylinder cracked into life, warming its fluids for the drive to our rendezvous location in Crickhowell. The cabin is sparse in comparison to the Jaguar. The steering wheel plain and flat, devoid of speaker controls or hands-free buttons, the wheel reserved for one purpose and one purpose alone.
It's hard to get comfy in the optional (£2,226) sports seats as the back doesn't recline, and for an over-armed ape like me it's a contortionist's act to squeeze in. Pedals are perfectly set, though, and with the rapid-fire direct gearbox making light work of shift duty, you can concentrate on fast- forward momentum.
The Cayman makes a wonderful rasp as it accelerates up the rev range and you can feel every bend, every bump, every overtake through every pore of your body. It puts your senses on high alert, raising your blood pressure like few other cars can. Grip through bends is staggeringly impressive - your internal organs move further than the Cayman steps out of line. But there's still fun to be had. Provoke it, poke it and the S loses grip, but it's never anything more than utterly controllable and completely intoxicating to boot.
The Cayman S is quick, too. The 60mph sprint time of five seconds feels short-changed; it appears far faster behind the wheel. The gearbox is an absolute gem to use - when the firm's PDK auto box is so good it's easy for buyers to overlook the manual, but it is without doubt one of the very best in the business. Top speed is 175mph and that's well believable - this Porsche clicks up three figures on its digital display in seconds.
The motoring myth points towards Porsche dumbing down the Cayman so as not to steal sales from the 911 - but no-one at the company would ever admit to that. And after a long stint behind the wheel of the stunningly beautiful Cayman S, a car so accomplished, so polished, so close to perfection, you realise that even the mighty Germans would struggle to keep this corker a secret.
Porsche Cayman S
Price: £64,374 (as tested)
Engine: 3.4-litre, six-cylinder, petrol
Power: 325bhp, 370Nm
Max speed: 143mph
MPG (combined): 32.1
Emissions: 206g/km CO2