The Porsche Cayman S may be the best car Porsche sells.
It is not the most powerful, most expensive or the fastest, but as a total driver’s car it has few peers in the world right now.
The Cayman has always been an odd member of the Porsche family. As a car that was designed purely to fill a gap in the product range, it has now blossomed into a full-fledged sportscar that can give the 911 a run for its money around any canyon road.
Of all the iterations of Caymans you can buy, our driveway was graced with the best; a Cayman S with Sport Chrono Package. The Cayman S comes with a larger, more powerful engine than the base Cayman, and the Sport Chrono Package adds a Sport Plus mode with better throttle response and faster acceleration.
Powering the Cayman S is a 3.4-liter flat six engine that produces 325 horsepower. That is enough grunt to get the Cayman to 60 from a dead stop in less than 5 seconds. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or the brilliant PDK dual-clutch automatic. This is still a pure driver’s car though, so ours came with three pedals.
From the moment you sit in the Cayman, it becomes abundantly clear that this car is special. Rather than sitting in the seats, it feels like the car embraces you. The bolstering is that perfect mix of aggressive to keep you planted in the corners, but not so much that it’s uncomfortable for longer journeys. We hate to use tired cliches, but glove-like is the best descriptor to the feeling of being in this Porsche.
Once you begin driving the Cayman S, it will take less than 10 miles for you to fall in love. Every piece of the car seems to work in perfect unison as an extension of yourself, and all the subtleties of what is happening around you are transmitted flawlessly through the controls. The steering is razor sharp, turn-in is quick, and with a perfectly weighted throw to the shifter, you find the right gear every time. Clutch travel is surprisingly long, but the pedal is easily modulated and linear with a very precise “bite” point that is easy for even the novice to discern.
Cars like the Nissan GT-R make you look like a better driver, the Cayman S lets you become better. The controls and dynamics of the car make it perfect for honing your skills. This newest Cayman does feature one addition that makes driving a little easier. When Sport Plus mode is activated, perfect throttle blipped downshifts are performed automatically. This type of system is becoming more common in manual equipped cars, but no car we have ever driven implements it so smoothly or flawlessly.
We usually prefer our own clumsy downshifts, but during some particularly challenging roads, having the automatic throttle-blip option allowed us to concentrate on braking and hitting the apexes.
Our particular Cayman S is far from perfect however. It suffers from the biggest problem of nearly every Porsche sold today; option bloat. Despite a relatively reasonable base price of just under $64,000, our tester featured enough options to set the final MSRP at nearly $89,000. Some options were worth every penny like the Porsche Torque Vectoring ($1320), Sport Chrono Package ($1850) and the Porsche Active Suspension Management ($1790). However, if this were our car, we would skip the $2815 orange interior leather and the $2730 20-inch alloys, the base S already comes with 19s. The Burmeister Premium stereo sounded incredible, but considering it comes packaged with the navigation unit for a whopping $6730, we would skip on that as well. The roar of that flat-six engine is all you really need to hear anyways.
When the 2014 Porsche Cayman S pulled into my drive, I expected to like it. What I didn’t expect was that it would become the best car I had ever driven. Driving the Cayman S is a true experience that no other car I have ever stepped into has matched.
In a word, it is perfect.
Photos © 2013 Christian Moe