Grand Cayman?

Siena at the end of September. I arrive with a question securely packed in my luggage – is the Cayman S a genuinely new model from Porsche, or just a Boxster with a roof on? After a couple of days driving between olive groves and vineyards I get to know the newcomer from Zuffenhausen and gradually get some answers...

By making this new model, Porsche has opened up a completely new market segment, positioned as it is between Boxster S and 911 Carrera. The top models of Audi TT, BMW Z3 and Nissan 350Z may compete with the Boxster, but none of the manufacturers can match the new Porsche coupé, that is likely to cost around 6,000 EURO more than the Boxster S. So is it worth the extra?

Grand Cayman? Grand Cayman?

To be honest, the phrase “Baby 911” has its attractions for me. Not the least of which being the 18,000 EURO saving in Germany on its big brother. It has attractive lines that are genuinely distinctive, as well as some features carried over from the roadster. And in addition to that, practicality is improved by an increased storage space to 410 litres (although 260 litres of that are accessed via a 116 x 90 cms rear flap).

Grand Cayman? Grand Cayman?

Under the charismatic engine-cover lies a modified 3.4 litre flat-six, mounted in front of the rear wheels as in the Boxster, producing 295 bhp with maximum torque of 251 lb/ft available from 4,400 and 6,000 rpm. For a surcharge (7,830 EURO), Porsche can supply a ceramic brake package with 350 mm disks and 6-pot callipers at the front, 4-pot at the rear. The chassis, stiffened up with the addition of a full roof, is a better-handling one than the Boxster.

On the bends of the test route in ‘Chianti-shire’, any Porsche should be a delight to drive and the Cayman S remains faithful to the marque. It will reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.4 seconds when equipped with the standard six-speed gearbox (the optional 5-speed Tiptronic S is a little slower, 6.1 seconds), and the car has its own unique sound courtesy of the centrally-located, square-section twin tailpipes.

The car will iron out the bumps in tight curves with or without being switched into Sport Mode (a 10mm reduction in ride height). Turning off the PSM (traction control and anti-skid) means the car can be held in a light drift through corners. Steering is light and precise in true Porsche fashion, and as far as the maximum speed (275 km/h, or 171 mph) is concerned I’m afraid the narrow roads of the Chianti region do not allow that sort of testing. And anyway, as you can see from the photograph below, every innocent olive tree could be hiding a member of the Carabinieri with a speed gun.

To conclude, the car scores Top Marks for design, handling and practicality. The company wants to gain younger buyers for its products, and to bridge the gap between Boxster and legendary 911. When you consider the average age of a Boxster buyer is 42, and that of the 911 46, than you can see how close this gap is. It gets my vote on price alone.

The Cayman S range in the UK starts at £43,930

Text & Photos: Jan Richter


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