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Porsche Cayman S

Broadcast date : 7th May 2006


The new Porsche Cayman has introduced an element of intrigue into the Porsche range, which until now was pretty clear-cut… the 911 for the purists… the Boxter for the less well-heeled who want open-topped fun as well as a degree of boulevard posturing potential… and the more-on-than-off-road Cayenne, which has sold surprisingly well despite being more of a family orientated station wagon-cum- supercar than a real SUV.

So why the Cayman, which as everyone and his dog named Ferdinand will know is essentially a Boxter with a roof tacked on?

Would this be seen as a sort of afterthought from Porsche, a kind of relatively-poor man’s 911?

David initially asked the same sort of questions but by the time he arrived in Hilton he reckoned he knew most of the answers.

When you see the Cayman in the flesh, so to speak, all pre-conceptions are blown out the back door.

The Cayman has a symmetry that digs deep into Porsche heritage – and triggers memories of the Abarth Carrera, circa 1960, and even the 550 Spyder that so tragically became forever linked to the memory of film star James Dean.

The Cayman is smaller than the 911, with a shorter wheelbase which gives it a chunkier, more classic profile. And the detailing work on vents, wheels and air intakes gives it a look all its own.

The big difference between the 911 and the Cayman is that there are no rear seats, although 911 seats are something of a joke anyway unless you are toting toddlers under two years old, or midgets around with you.

The interior is not as up-market as a 911’s but by no means in the shabby category. There is more plastic, but GOOD QUALITY plastic. 

Porsche flat-sixes have always had a distinct engine note, a flat bark overlaid by a high-pitched mechanical symphony that was probably accidental when the original 911 motor was conceived in the early 1960s.

The Tiptronic transmission a la Porsche is the real business. It holds the gears until you shift when in manual mode, and the changes are so quick they make nonsense of the automatic clutch sequential manual transmissions offered by the likes of Alfa Romeo with its Selespeed and BMW with its SMG system.

You lose none of the pure Porsche pleasure with this Cayman, and as the motor is mid-mounted rather than slung out the rear as it is in a 911, everything seems more immediate in the cabin.

The engine note is a constant presence and a pleasurable one at that, making the high quality audio system almost redundant.

The chassis is so stiff it feels as if you could drop it off a cliff and it wouldn’t suffer so much as a kink.

And yet it’s comfortable over a long haul, especially in Tiptronic auto form.

The 911 is Car Torque’s favourite car. But now, along comes the Cayman, oh so close to 911 levels and two hundred grand cheaper. What’s not to like?

If we could find any reason to choose a 911 over the Cayman S it would be that the cabin ambience perhaps is a little lacking in the sound-deadening department.

There’s an almost tin-drum tautness about it that is not up to the suave quality particular to the 911 and this is maybe due to the greater immediacy of the engine, thanks to mid, rather than rear location.

In short, it’s the enthusiast’s choice.


Porsche Cayman S Tiptronic
  • Engine: Horizontally-opposed six-cylinder petrol, 3 387 cc
  • Power: 217 kW @ 6 250 rpm
  • Torque: 340 Nm @ 4 600 rpm
  • Transmission: Five-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 5,8 seconds (claimed)
  • Top speed: 268 km/h (claimed)
  • Fuel consumption: 13,4 litres/100 km (estimated)
  • Price: R730 000
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