2013 Porsche Cayman Review

Utterly brilliant, but is it still the ‘default’ sports car?

By Shahzad Sheikh

2013 Porsche Cayman

Porsche likes to think it has a monopoly on the word ‘default’ as in ‘default sportscar’, ‘default street-racer’, ‘default track-weapon’, and ‘default choice’ for the upwardly mobile and so on. The word is usually applied to the iconic 911 that firmly inhabits a pedestal of pole position in the automotive world.

But its younger sibling gets a stake on the ‘default’ claim too, and for a while now the Cayman, and its topless twin Boxster, have been the go-to cars for those seeking the ultimate sportscar and roadster experience – without stretching all the way to a 911.

2013 Porsche Cayman

And it’s not just about the cost. The ‘lesser’ two have always been the easier, safer and more enjoyable cars to drive. Unlike the 911, the engine in the back of these two is not slung out the rear in a deadly pendulum-effect position, threatening to whip you off the road into the nearest unforgiving surface. The Cayman/Boxster has what’s known as a ‘mid-engine’ configuration – yes, like those red Ferraris!

This is fundamentally a good thing, because by putting the weighty power unit ahead of the rear axle the mass is balanced in a much more benign manner. Ah but you 911-afficianados have just thrown up your arms in disgust: ‘but that’s part of the thrill of a 911…’ The thrill of what? Of flying off the edge of a cliff, your last thoughts being that you might have been better off with a Cayman after all, moments before being smashed to pulp?

2013 Porsche Cayman

No the Cayman/Boxster were never the poor-person’s 911, they were the sensible-person’s Porsche. As must have become unassailably clear by now, I have been a Cayman fan. But now there is a new one. Will it continue to find me evangelically singing its praises?

So what’s new? On the face of it, not much. Well that’s what you’d think to look at it. Actually it’s entirely new. The Cayman is longer, the wheels are further apart, it’s also wider and stiffer and yet 30kg lighter. The proportions are better and around the back, the integrated spoiler is very clever.

2013 Porsche Cayman

The regular car comes with a 2.7-litre flat-six putting out 275bhp, but the S gets the 3.4-litre with 321bhp and 272lb ft of torque resulting in 0-100kph in 4.6 seconds through the excellent new seven-speed PDK twin-clutch auto. The new 2013 Cayman, then, must be the true pinnacle of current sportscars.

It looks exquisite, that’s for sure, apart from the fact that the massive 20-inch wheels are oversized and frankly cartoony, and don’t do much good for the ride either (I would suggest you order it with the 19s but sadly you won’t).

2013 Porsche Cayman

The squashed and stretched Porsche style, is no longer quite as astonishingly eye-catching and head-turning as it was when the original Cayman arrived in 2005. We’ve gotten used to the shape and just following the gentle evolutionary path isn’t going to win it any new admirers.

Porsche may think that’s a good thing, because it keeps loyal owners happy, and doesn’t ‘age’ the previous car, but it also doesn’t motivate new-comers to the brand to want to really want it.

Inside the interior falls into line with rest of the range with that slanted bridge of a centre console. And it presents just enough toys and buttons without over-doing it and festooning the cabin with switchgear. The overall impression is of clarity and purpose, perhaps to the detriment of practicality. Or at least you might initially think so.

2013_Porsche_Cayman_26

There doesn’t seem to be much space to put anything, today’s big smart phones don’t easily fit anywhere and even the door pockets are not that big. Ah but there are hidden cupholders, and a cubby box under the armrest. Plus there is a large shelf area behind the seats and fairly decent sized luggage compartments both in the front and rear of the car, so it turns out to be remarkably handy for carrying stuff – you could just about go road-tripping in this.

Driving it for long distances and periods wouldn’t be a too much or a pain either, thanks to a comfortable seating position and the excellent PDK automatic transmission that will take care of business for you (they do make manual versions, but most sold in our region will be autos).

2013 Porsche Cayman

However you don’t buy this to go touring. You buy this because it’s a driver’s car and you’re looking for a high thrill-factor whether you’re driving to work, going for a Friday-morning blast into the mountains or heading onto the track.

And to tackle those in reverse order, whilst I didn’t drive this on a circuit, it’s obvious that with Sports Plus mode on, its precise steering, faithful road holding, eager turn-in, immensely assuring handling and general demeanour of serious intent, will see you obliterate all the other brands out there, and perhaps even startle a few 911 owners.

2013 Porsche Cayman

Out on the roads, the suspension, whilst a little too telegraphic of the road surface thanks to those massive rims, keeps the car flat and sucked down into the tarmac. Through the corners, you feel it displays no understeer at all, until you lift off slightly and find the nose tucking in even more, without things going tail-happy-lethal.

The steering is accurate and well-weighted, nice to hold too, but there’s not quite as much feedback as you’d expect, and certainly compared to its predecessor.

Around town, Sports Plus is too much, and you’d just stick it in Sports or normal model in full auto if you just want to cruise around. It’s drama-free and quite tame for tearing about town.

2013 Porsche Cayman

Except that those are perhaps not the quite the right choice of words, because they imply that this is rather over-eager and excitable car, that wants to driven hard all the time. Actually it’s a quite a mature, docile and sophisticated quality construct that will get on with whatever you need it to do.

So it’s good then? Yes, very good indeed. However throughout this discourse we’ve not discussed passion, enthusiasm and emotive appeal. That’s because they didn’t figure. I’d happily have a Cayman, but I don’t lust after it. It’s gotten just a little too impressive for its own sake. It’s now an excellent sportscar but sadly, for me at least, no longer the default choice. Porsche doesn’t own that word after all.

2013 Porsche Cayman S
Spec
Price: 227,300 ($61,890)
Engine: 3.4-litre flat-six, 325bhp @ 7400rpm, 273lb ft @ 4500-5800rpm
Performance: 4.6secs 0-100kph, 281kph, 8.0L/100
Transmission: seven-speed PDK auto, rear wheel drive
Weight: 1350kg

New Cayman, old Cayman, or the 911? Tell us below

 

3 responses to “2013 Porsche Cayman Review”

  1. Martin Benson says:

    Maybe not default, that now belongs to the spider, but it is better than the 911. In my opinion anyway.

    Cheers

  2. todd says:

    Always less than stellar reviews….Until you get one !!!!!

  3. […] always like the Boxster/Cayman range, and to me it’s a more accessible car to drive hard than the fabled 911 because of the […]

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