2013 Porsche Cayman S Review

What, you were expecting anything less than brilliance?

By Imthishan Giado

2013 Porsche Cayman S Launch

Let’s cut to the chase. The new Cayman is a brilliant, gorgeous mid-engined coupe that effortlessly surpasses its much-vaunted predecessor and sets the standard for how sportscars should drive. Job done, time to get some Tim Horton’s donuts.

What, you want me to explain exactly why it’s better than the old car? Well, if I must…

2013 Porsche Cayman S Launch

I never quite understood why people slated the old Cayman (and its convertible Boxster twin) for being the ‘poor man’s 911’, as if the 911 represented the pinnacle of sportscar engineering. Far from it – the 911 is of course brilliant to drive  but it’s starting from a bad idea (rear-engined, rear wheel drive) and making it good, whereas the Cayman has no such flaws in its DNA. The last Cayman was superbly balanced, stopped on a dime and had such telepathic steering that it made you wonder why anyone paid extra for a 911. And not to mention, it had all the same creature comforts as its bigger brother… and a far cheaper price tag.

2013 Porsche Cayman S Launch

So how do you improve upon perfection? As many a lady would reply, you make it bigger. The new Cayman has checked the ‘upsize’ box and grown 1.3 inches longer, while the wheelbase has grown 2.4 inches and the front track by 1.6 inches. Despite the extra girth, the front and rear overhangs are shorter than the previous model, so think of the new Cayman as being long, lower and wider – changes that can only make a car handle better.

2013 Porsche Cayman S Launch

About the looks, there can be little debate – this is one seriously delectable car. Where the new, fatter, GT-ier 911 looks like its had one too many chicken shawarmas, the Cayman hides its bigger proportions well, the fashionable 20-inch wheels being the only major giveaway (smaller 19s available, but no one will buy them, obviously). OK, that and the dramatic spoiler that bisects the taillight, borrowed from the Boxster, although the Cayman gets a new (and better resolved) front fasica. Protip: if you want to tell the S apart from the regular Cayman, the former gets two centrally-mounted exhaust tips, while the latter has just one.

Extravagant use of aluminium through the 40% stiffer bodyshell mean that despite the weight gain, this Cayman is 30kg lighter than the previous car – no mean achievement. Under the hood of the base Cayman is a 2.7-litre flat-six with 275bhp and 213lb/ft of torque that’ll do the 0-100kph run in about 5.6 seconds…which interests about five people reading this.

What everyone wants to hear about is the range-topping Cayman S, sporting the big-boy-pants 3.4-litre flat six (essentially the same engine you get in the base 911, carefully detuned so as not to offend) with 321bhp and 272 lb/ft of torque that’ll do the big sprint in 4.9 seconds. Wedded to either engine is your choice of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission, the latter that the region overwhelmingly opts for. Thankfully the manual will still be available in this region, but the take rate is so small – single digit percentages – that it’ll be a rare sight than a Margaret Thatcher pin in a British Leyland fan club.

2013 Porsche Cayman S Launch

The interior is vastly improved from the old car, adopting the now-ubuquitous Panamera-style cascading centre console and dual cockpits. In every respect, interior room is an improvement – this is a cabin that will swallow the widest of butts and the tallest of heads without issue. It goes without saying that the surfaces are the gold benchmark for tactility, quality, tastefulness and visibility, but what’s surprising is that out on the road, we found some surprising rattles from the trim…perhaps a coronary of the stiff suspension and massive SUV wheels. Nevertheless, for the price you’re paying – AED 199k for the base Cayman, 227k for the S – only the most pedantic would find anything to complain about.

2013 Porsche Cayman S Launch

Talking about interior and styling is entirely beside the point when it comes to the Cayman range. Of all Porsches, this most demands to be driven, and driven hard – and it doesn’t disappoint. At the launch, we took the Cayman S out on the Club Circuit of the Autodrome. Over the years, we’ve driven loads of cars from saloons (Ghost, anyone?) to M-SUVs on this circuit and nothing, and I mean nothing, feels at home on the circuit as a Cayman.

Simply put, the only limitation is the slab of meat behind the wheel – the car remains a point-and-shoot weapon that devours corners greedily, blissfully free of understeer but with easy-to-command understeer available upon request. If you really are serious about learning to drive fast on track, you owe it to yourself to get behind the wheel of a Cayman – it’ll teach how to go properly fast without overly punishing your amateur errors.

2013 Porsche Cayman S Launch

The PDK too, remains a work of art – this is perhaps the only dual-clutch in the world that is faster if you leave it in Drive. Seriously, unless you’re Walter Rohrl, don’t bother trying to tell me that you can guess shift points better because you can’t – the PDK does it all so well that you’re better left to watching your lines and having fun.

2013 Porsche Cayman S Launch

We also had the chance to take the Cayman out on the road for a brief run through the mountains of Kalba. Here too, the Cayman S excels…but there are a couple of things that might give you cause for pause.

2013 Porsche Cayman S Launch

First: ride quality. Doing the long drive from the Autodrome to the mountains, even on ruler-straight roads with perfect tarmac, it became evident that the 20s made for a bouncier, less settled ride than I’d like. Coupled with the stiffer body, the Cayman proved to be a less than ideal tourer. 19s are optional, and I’d recommend them, even though they won’t look anywhere near as nice.

2013 Porsche Cayman S Launch

Next…steering. Yes yes, I know this is the new Porsche bugbear but it bears repeating…this electric steering setup isn’t as communicative as the old car. Frankly, the old Cayman setup was so good Toyota copied it wholesale for their 86, but they probably won’t be doing the same with this car. The whole thing feels a bit artificial frankly with banzai-sharp on-centre response, but virtually no feedback from the front wheels. Yes, the system is immensely good and tracks true but you feel less confident when you don’t know if the front end is going to wash wide or suddenly bite harder. (No, and always, FYI)

Three – the engine. The 3.4-litre flat-six revs beautifully up to 7400rpm, but all along that journey there isn’t a huge amount of torque to be found with the result that acceleration can be slightly underwhelming. Sure, it revs and revs and revs, and you’ll need to, to maintain that proper blistering Porsche pace. By no description can the Cayman S be called slow, but if you’re thinking that this could replace the 911 in your supercar dreams…stop right now. It won’t.

But it’s still pretty damn good, in my opinion.

2013 Porsche Cayman S Launch

It’s hard not to respect what Porsche have accomplished here. Despite enlarging the Cayman in every direction, this still remains the sportscar to beat, the gold standard to which others aspire. A few niggling things that I don’t like about it, like the flinty ride, or the numb steering, point to the usually supremely self-confident Porsche bending to public opinion and tastes in fashion, but that’s the nature of the world we live in now.

Sure, I’d love a stripped down, manual Cayman with 17-inch wheels and a howling flat-six with straight pipe exhaust, but approximately no one else would. Porsche has enlarged the canvas, made its best car even more accessible, even better value compared to the ever-ascending 911.

When it comes right down to it – purists be damned, the Cayman still rules.

2013 Porsche Cayman
AED199,000 ($54,180)
Cayman S
AED227,300 ($61,890)
2.7-litre direct-injected flat-six 275bhp @ 7400pm, 213lb ft @ 4500-6500rpm (Cayman)
3.4-litre direct-injected flat-six 325bhp @ 7400pm, 273lb ft @ 4500-5800rpm (Cayman S)
0-100kph 5.6 seconds, 264kph, 7.7L/100km (all est) (Cayman)
0-100kph 4.9 seconds, 281kph, 8.0L/100km (all est) (Cayman S)

Transmission: seven-speed twin-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
1340kg (Cayman)
1350kg (Cayman S)

One response to “2013 Porsche Cayman S Review”

  1. abdullah ali says:

    I want to buy a Porsche Caymen 2011s how much costs me Hto arrival Saudi Arabia and specifically the city of Dammam and thanks

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