I got the opportunity to have the Porsche Cayman S for a day, and boy what a day it was!
Porsche Cayman S Introduction
This Cayman is the second generation of the car that was announced back in 2005. Back then, the Cayman was a car that most journalists felt was Porsche’s solution to the gap between the Boxter and 911. Now though, the Boxter has grown up a lot and the gap has narrowed quite a lot, which in effect, gave the Cayman some room to really bring out it’s true potential.
In this new model, the Cayman S comes with a 3.4 Litre V6 engine placed in the middle. Yes, no 911 style rear engine on the Cayman, this is a mid engine sports car. That engine pumps out 325 ponies at 7400 RPM with peak torque stated at 370 MN @ 4500-5800 RPM. These might seem slightly ordinary in terms of numbers we hear today, but there are more things to look out for in the Cayman’s specification sheet. What are they you ask? Well, the Cayman S comes with Porsche’s PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) gearbox, which is one of the best double clutch gearboxes offered today, across all manufacturers, also, the Cayman S weighs around 1350 KGs.
Making more sense? not yet? Here’s some more numbers; 0-100 KMS time is 4.9 seconds on the PDK model (5.0 on the manual transmission model) with a top speed of 281 KMPH. Now, that is a very fast car. Oh, and all those ponies are available through the rear wheels. Thankfully the guys over at Porsche Centre Dubai trusted me enough with their little beast (Thank You!).
Without a single doubt in my mind, the Cayman S is now one of the most attractive cars. The balance of the car is just splendid. I, personally, was not the biggest fan of the first generation, I felt although the front and center seemed decent, the rear somehow was off balance.
This one though, they lowered the rear hip so the balance is actually spot on, also, with the updated front with the new bumper, lights and a more angular front fender, it has more going on compared to the previous generation, which I think was the best thing they had done to the Cayman. The previous generation seemed too nice, and this is a Porsche, nice shouldn’t be in the cards.
But enough with the old, lets get down and dirty with the new! This Cayman S was in the Mahogany Metallic and I just think it is gorgeous. The front has a beautiful pair of headlights that reminds me of the Panemera (Just in time when they changed the lights of the Panemera), the front bumper now has larger vents with a lower angle making it more aggressive at front. Instead of the daylight running lights being integrated into the lights, they are now 4 dots, forming a square, in the fog light. In typical Porsche pattern, the petrol filler is on the right front fender.
Moving on to the side, the side profile is even more balanced than it ever was.
I especially loved driving it around with the rear spoiler lifted up. It comes up automatically when one goes over 120 KMPH, but at that speeds, the last thing I would do is look behind me! I keep going back and using the word balance because… look at it.
The brakes on the Cayman S are cross drilled and internally ventilated for perfect cooling under hard braking. They come in 330 MM at the front (About 5 MM bigger than the standard Cayman), while on the rear both models share the same discs with a diameter of 299 MM.
The combination of the Pirelli P Zeros with the large brakes give the car really good stability, traction and really good braking power. I have tried out the brakes extensively and it never failed to handle the hardest braking situations. Speaking of braking power, the brake pedal is superb! The pedal was hard, but not too hard, and stepping on the brake pedal gave the exact feel of how hard one is applying the brakes. Under a lot of hard braking, it showed no fade as well. The rear is catered for brake lights! The actual headlights light up, the there is top mounted brake light right at the top of the rear window, for extended visibility.
The rear is where I fell in love with the car. They kept to the Cayman/Boxter basics and kept the exhaust system in the middle, but from there upwards, things changed. The new headlights are more beautiful and in LED with a white line coming across for the reverse lights. Porsche then took it a step further by integrating the rear spoiler design into the rear lights themselves, so when the spoiler is lowered or raised, there is a part of the rear body that is integrated with the lights, or at least looks as though it is. Very beautiful design cue.
The rear window is a large glass panel that overlooks the interior. Being that the Cayman’s engine is in the middle, there is no rear engine to see through the glass, just a large metal beam across the center for where fluids can be accessed and a storage area.
There are two storage spaces in the Cayman S, the primary one being under the front bonnet, which is fairly deep, it can handle quite a few grocery bags or a small hand bag (If of course you go shopping with the Cayman) and the rear is actually decent for a small items like briefcases.
While covering the exterior, the parking abilities on the Cayman S are brilliant for a sports car. There are large big windows and rear visibility is fairly good. There is no rear view camera on the Cayman, but there are front and rear sensors that are fairly accurate, even around corners.
Often an issue with sports cars is entering and exiting the vehicle, and the Cayman is a low car, but surprisingly, entry and exit is pretty good. The doors are long and with the way the roof is narrower than the actual body, there is a lot more head and shoulder room.
Although I wanted to cover the exterior because I loved it, I was even more excited about the interior!
The interior was in Espresso Natural Leather and I thought that was the best combination with the exterior paint.
The interior is inspired by the 911 which was inspired by the Panemera, which I think looks fantastic. Everything is soft to touch with silver metal trim. Where there was any plastics, it somehow was the exact shade of the leather, and it was hard to identify just from looking at it. Talk about good execution.
The seating position was perfect, and surprisingly spacious. It had 14 way power seats with memory functionality.
The steering wheel was very well executed. I know that Porsche has had a lot of beef lately for using electronic steering and this Cayman S had Porsche’s Power Steering Plus. On the plus side, it was near perfect. All all times I knew where the wheels were, it had very good feedback. The steering itself was light, but not too light with good feel in the hands, especially with steering wheel bolstering.
The steering wheel had a handful of functions, which are quite simple to use. There are two gear shifters (I wouldn’t want to call them paddles now would I) which I actually do not like. They function really well, but they aren’t the ordinary type. Each shifter can handle upshifts my pushing it forward and downshifts by pulling it backwards. The plus side is, this allows one hand operation of the shifting. The downside is, when making turns and driving aggressively, having to push the shifter or pull the shifter gets a bit annoying. Also, with the tendency of most paddles being downshift on the left and upshift on the right, I would unconsciously pull the right shifter for an upshift but it would downshift. It does become a matter of getting used to I am sure. Alternatively, one can always use the gear leaver to manually shift the gears, in a traditional way.
On the left side of the steering wheel is a wheel for the volume control, answer button (for a connected phone) and a shortcut button that is customizable. On the right is a similar wheel but it’s for the driver information system, a back button and a hang up button (for a connected phone)
Above the steering center is a small metal plate which states the “PDK” model. What is really cool about this is, when sport, sport plus modes are activated it lights up on the left of the PDK logo. The right side of the logo lights up when launch control mode is activated. Behind the steering wheel is the typical electric steering wheel adjustment control, wiper control, and signals with high beam function.
To the left of the steering is where the car shaped remote control is inserted (turn clockwise to start, no buttons here) along with the light controls.
I love the dials on Porsche, they are really sporty but not only that, they are very easy to read. To the left is the speedometer (which on the Cayman S reads up to 300), in the center is the rev counter with a digital speed read out and gear selection, and to the right is the driver information system (more on that in a bit). Everything is super clear, bright and just near perfection.
For a low riding sports car, the interior is fairly roomy. I expected a tight fit, but I found more than sufficient leg room, head room and even though the seat is up against the rear wall, it was roomy and there was enough shoulder room. Of course the passenger gets even more room.
The center dashboard is a lovely thing to look at! The top part has two air conditioning vents and the analogue clock. The clock is absolutely sexy, it gives such a huge impression of speed and second by second accuracy.
Under that comes Porsche’s lovely touch screen display. There are several controls below the screen for the various sections on the screen but the basic operations are done via touch.
Right below the screen sits the in dash DVD slot. and right under that comes the main sections of the system; Tuner, Media, Telephone, Navigation, Maps, etc. with other shortcuts bellow that for Car information. There are controls for the input sources, sound settings and general controls for the system. It is a fairly easy system to use without any complex options, after all, the focus is always on the driving not on the toys.
There are two circular dials one to control the scrolling on the screen and the other for the tuning on the radio.
The system has a few permanent pieces of information that are shown on almost all screens which are the Phone signal, Radio and outside temperature. There is a SIM card slot in the middle of those buttons.
Above the gear leaver sits the air conditioning controls which includes dual zone control of the air conditioning system in clear little black and white screen. There are buttons to control the breeze directions, air recycling and defrost with a bigger button in the center to control the fan speeds.
Below the gear leaver are a few buttons for the driver to select from, which include: Sport Mode, Sport Plus Mode, Traction Control, Rear Spoiler and Start/Stop. Sounds odd? indeed, but the Cayman S does have a Start/Stop functionality which would turn the engine off when stationary to save fuel. It goes off automatically when Sport or Sport Plus mode is turned on. What I did not appreciate is that, this makes 5 buttons, but the center console had space for 10. I get the feeling that I wasn’t offered every option when there are empty buttons but I guess they needed the space for other regions and options.
There is a small slot which is good for… small items? and a shallow storage area under the center arm rest.
If you were looking for cup holders, you wont find any, but that doesn’t mean Porsche forgot! Above the passenger side glovebox, there is a small metallic panel where two cup holders eject from behind it. Who needs permanent cupholders leaving two large circular holes in your beautifully crafted interior, right?
It is such a lovely place to be, it is luxurious, classy, comfortable and surprisingly spacious, roomy and easy to look out of.
To sum it up in one word? Incredible.
To expand a little? it was one of the best drives I have had in a long time. The Acceleration is really good, it is a 3.4 litre V6 with 325 HP, which doesn’t sound like much, but with the way it manages its power it is more than sufficient. The normal drive mode is smooth, gear changes are soft, there is a slight lag upon immediate full throttle where the PDK gearbox has to downshift from 7th gear usually, which takes a bit. Sport mode reduces the lag a little, and the gears are held on a bit longer, and it does accelerate nicer. Sport Plus is where things goes crazy. It’s literally like.. a little, a little more and FULL. In Sport Plus, the gears are held for as long as physically possible, the steering and performance goes to maximum attack, it also seems to be so perfectly suited for high performance driving. I absolutely loved it.
The PDK is absolute brilliant, shifts are instantaneous and without a second delay, I never selected a gear and it was not already in that gear, as if it was reading my mind rather than waiting for me to select it. In sport plus, the gear changes are a bit rough, but it isn’t Aventador rough, just the right amount of kick to remind you, this may have 325 HP but they are German horses, angry German horses. The gearbox has 7 gears, but the top speed can be achieved on the 6th, while the 7th is to reduce RPM for more efficiency and increase comfort.
The Cayman S really does feed to the driver’s confidence. I have watched myself go from driving very cautiously to being a mad adrenaline junkie willing to take advantage of any opening or overtaking gap I could find. It gives a lot of confidence very quickly. This is a really well adjusted and tuned vehicle. I absolutely loved the drive, and to be absolutely honest, with tight speed limits in Dubai, I do not think any more performance is even relevant. It accelerates really well, and without caution, it can get into dangerous speeds, fast.
So, its all show and all go, but there is another factor that a sports car should excel at, and that is sound. Guess what? Porsche nailed it here as well. It doesn’t sound very muscular like a V8 but it sounds absolutely amazing. It does get loud with high RPMs and it has such a sweet upshifting, that is loud enough to entertain the driver and others around it, while not over the top for knowing what engine it is. Some other brands have extremely loud exhausts, but have performance that doesn’t match the crazy sound.
The car surprisingly maintained its cool throughout the harsh driving. The temperature gauges never budged, even though the temperature reached nearly 40 degrees outside. This I believe is due to their advanced cooling, integrated dry-sump system where the oil tank is actually in the engine which reduces power loss, and increases efficiency, The engine also adjusts variables to change engine’s management based on driving dynamics to improve power delivery in certain driving modes and increase efficiency once again.
This is something I experienced, under aggressive driving, even in normal mode, the engine and PDK gearbox managed to maintain high revs and increase performance. After a few seconds of driving normal again, it shifts the gears into high gears and goes back to normal.
Fuel economy was something I was surprised about in the Cayman S. When I had received the car, it had a full tank, and the driver information system stated I had a range of 500 KMs. I was surprised because, this is a Porsche after all. After a whole day of driving, mostly enthusiastically, I had done 250 KMs, with the system estimating 200 KMs of range left. I would assume it could actually do 450 KMs with some aggressive use.
Officially Porsche states it at around 20 MPH (11.2L/100KM), and with my short use, I estimate around 17 MPH (13.75L/100KM) which I still think is impressive.
The Infotainment System
The Cayman S had come with the really lovely executed Bose sound system, which was really clear and loud. The only downside I felt on it was, the radio channels were not as clear as I would have expected.
The main system screen, as mentioned above have a few sections, and here are some of the main screens:
Starting from the top left, going clockwise, is the Tuner screen, where there are 6 favourite radio stations and other radio options. The second screen is the Phone, where there is the ability to insert a SIM card directly into the dashboard, or connect to a phone via Bluetooth. It will allow access to the phonebook and make calls from the car itself.
Media is where a USB can be inserted (Under the passenger side glove box, there is a USB and Auxiliary port with a power adaptor) and have the music files stored into the built in hard drive. Finally, the Navigation, where the system gives various options to enter destination address, select from a list of previous addresses, stored addresses, and points of interest.
As for information system in the instrument panel, there is a short list of options the driver can access quickly through the steering wheel:
The first of the list of options is the Vehicle temperatures, then Audio settings where the driver sees Radio/Media information and ability to change between changes/files, and then the Phone.
Navigation information appears on the next screen with the ability to launch the Mini-Map. Trip information shows all the basic details since starting of the counters and the Chrono screen allows the user to start up a stopwatch.
The last option on the list is the G-Force graph that shows real time G-Forces generated by acceleration, cornering and braking. The settings menu allows the driver to control a lot of the car’s characteristics and behaviours. The Mini-Map is a nice graphical look at navigation rather than using the main screen on the dashboard.
The Porsche Cayman S has been a wonderful experience, and to see where it has come from the first original Cayman really excites me. It has really become a sensible super car (And reasonably priced for a super car as this, top of the range Cayman S costs 298’000 AED at the Porsche Centre Dubai). The car looks absolutely fantastic, with a beautifully crafted and executed interior that is very welcoming, comfortable and encourages enthusiastic driving. Speaking of driving, the car drives superbly, the power delivery is really good, and in Sport Plus the car expresses its super car know-how, the braking is fabulous and the driving abilities of the Cayman S are just wonderful. Steering is accurate and invokes confident driving and the overall package just makes so much sense.
Not only as a sports car for the thrills, but as a car for daily use, the Cayman S makes a lot of sense because it is comfortable, fairly roomy, has decent storage space, easy to drive and park, and best of all, it is fairly fuel efficient (for a car of its class). I absolutely love it and every second I spent in it made me want to drive it more.