Porsche Cayman and Cayman S: Sharpest tool yet in Porsche’s sportscar lineup
Porsche made headlines by unveiling the all-new Cayman and Cayman S, Porsche’s mid-engined 2-door sports car, promising both improved performance, driver involvement and efficiency at the famous Autodromo Internacional Algarve in Portimao, situated in the ruggedly beautiful Algarve region of Portugal.
The all-new Cayman boasts a raft of significant upgrades, bridging the performance gap between the small Cayman and the range-topping 911 lineup. The new Cayman boasts of an aluminum-alloy chassis that has a torsional stiffness of 40,000 Newton-meters per degree. For comparison’s sake, it is twice as stiff as a Boxster’s chassis, which is already impressive in its class. It is composed of 44-percent aluminum that is 30 percent lighter than its predecessor and weighing in at 235 kg for the dry chassis alone, helping to contribute to its 1,310 kg base vehicle curb weight. The wheelbase has been extended 60 millimeters to improve high-speed cornering ability and straight-line stability as well as cruising refinement, yet overall length has only grown by 1.3 inches. It is difficult to spot the increase in length because the Cayman S has shorter front and rear overhangs, and thus looks more aesthetically balanced. Just behind the rear doors is what Porsche calls Dynamic Recess, helping funnel air onto the black-colored side intakes which feed cold air to the flat-six engine.
Also, the roofline has shrunk by 10 mm to reduce aerodynamic drag together with an almost completely-flat underfloor, lessen wind noise and provide a sportier profile. The front track has been widened by 40 mm, improving turn-in feel, responsiveness, precision and helping to provide a more neutral handling feel, matched with a 12 mm increase in the rear track and wider rear tires. Out back, an integrated thin lip spoiler adds some substance in the back and helps tame the rear end. At higher speeds (above 80 kph), a pop-up rear spoiler, featuring a 40-percent increase in surface area generates more stabilizing rear downforce.
Smaller but better engine
The Cayman’s engines have decreased in size, but increased in power, and reducing fuel emissions by an order of 15 percent. The all-new family of engines offered in the Cayman lineup, a 2.7 liter and 3.4 liter flat six featuring aluminum alloy blocks and 4-valve cylinder heads and dual overhead camshafts, are both direct injected and feature START/STOP function in city traffic driving and produce 275 hp and 214 lbs-ft of torque and 325 hp and 275 lbs-ft of torque respectively. Both come available with a 6-speed manual or Porsche’s intelligent PDK dual-clutch transmission that offers a coasting mode, temporarily going into neutral when cruising off-throttle or going up a higher gear or two when coasting downhill.
On the other hand, its brake energy recovery system engages the alternator only when braking to minimize drive-train drag and superior thermal management keeps the engine operating within a narrower temperature window of an ideal 95 degree Celsius for maximum power and reduced fuel emissions. Standard sized wheels are 18-inch wheels with 235/45R18 and 265/45R18 for the regular Cayman and 19’ wheels with 235/40R19 and 265/40R19 for the Cayman S but even bigger 20’ wheels are available for the first time on either model.
Faster, better handling
For ’Ring anoraks, the Cayman S laps the infamous Nordschliefe in 7:55 seconds, 11 seconds faster than its predecessor, in a Cayman S equipped with PDK, 20-inch wheels and the Sport Chrono Pack, which was offered for the first time in the Cayman range, Porsche’s highly vaunted and highly effective Porsche Torque Vectoring (an electronic aid which helps brake the inside tire when cornering as well as applying some lock to the limited slip differential to help balance the car closer to a pure neutral handling behavior on track) and Dynamic Transmission mounts which firm up or soften the transmission and helping transfer more power to the driven wheels, depending on the drive mode selected (Normal, Sport and Sport + settings) which firm up the suspension, decrease shift speeds, opens up a secondary valve in the exhaust to increase exhaust noise, increases throttle sensitivity and sets the traction and stability controls closer to the limits of absolute adhesion and slip.
Other improvements include a new brake system featuring larger brake discs straight out of the 991-series 911, stiffer alloy calipers with improved radial mounts and Porsche’s Carbon Ceramic Brakes being a very expensive option.
Inside, the interior design hasn’t changed much, featuring mostly the raised center console, but a very similar dash architecture and instrument layout as before. Redesigned air-vents, the optional Sports Chrono lap timer and a new Satellite Navigation System screen round out the changes. A newly design steering wheel adjusts for both reach and rake and the spokes cleverly hide LED lights which illuminate up in Sport or Sport + mode on the side when engaged. Order the Sport Chrono Pack with the leather clad one-piece, fixed bucket seat and steering and seat adjustments are manual. Opt for the normal reclinable bucket seats and adjustment for both steering wheel and seats are electronically operated.
The steering wheel is now connected to an electronically assisted system first seen in the Type-991 generation 911, removing the heavier hydraulically assisted power steering from the older Cayman and reducing weight in the process. The center console is a raised divider, a nod to the limited edition Carrera GT hypercar and now a prominent design theme for all Porsche vehicles. For PDK-equipped Caymans, large paddle shifters are located behind the steering wheel. Three main binnacles face the driver, the center being a large rev-counter with a small multi-function LCD display, on the left-hand side housing the speedometer and on the right hand side another full-color multi-function trip computer which displays the vehicle’s drive mode, satellite navigation, fuel level, oil temperature, oil pressure and coolant temperature values.
Porsche has worked hard to shed the Cayman’s entry-level sports-car tag from the Cayman. While the 991 has grown to be less hard-core sports car and more sporting GT, the Cayman moves up the performance ladder. It is a more serious, and more hard-core sports car offering that impresses on both road and track, yet able to keep tree huggers happy while demolishing the opposition with less power and more precision. And as a bonus, almost every tester commented on how refined the new Cayman is on the highway, the race track, and on broken tarmac. Impressive indeed for Porsche’s all-new Cayman and Cayman S.