2014 Porsche Cayman S Coupe (3.4L 6-cyl. w/opt. 7-speed Automated Manual)
Driven On 2/14/2013
There are few true competitors for Porsche's two-seat, mid-engine Cayman S. Its closest rival may in fact be its bigger, more expensive brother, the 911. The Cayman S delivers precision and agility like few cars on earth, along with remarkable acceleration. And this performance comes at a fairly reasonable price.
PerformanceThe Cayman S satisfies performance junkies. Furious acceleration with wonderful traction, phenomenally stable braking and driver-friendly, precise handling. We were a bit let down by the new electric steering, though.
The 325-hp flat-six is a bit soft below 4,000 rpm. But life above 4 grand is simply glorious, in both speed and noise. Optional paddle-shift gearbox shifts fantastically quick.
Confidence-inspiring, fade-free and extremely stable braking with a firm, powerful pedal. The optional carbon-ceramic brakes are touchy around town.
The switch to electro-mechanical steering, for fuel economy, gives good, but not great, precision. We noticed less feel than the previous hydraulic-assist setup.
Porsche dialed in some understeer to make the Cayman safe for all levels of drivers. But it reacts quickly to driver inputs and is utterly capable, stable and confidence-inspiring.
Porsche's dual-clutch gearbox is fantastic. Upshifts can be mind-blowingly quick, or nearly imperceptible. Brakes are touchy around town. The Auto Start/Stop isn't as seamless as some.
ComfortFor a two-seat sports car, the Porsche Cayman is pretty easy to live with. The seats in particular have plenty of padding. The engine, situated directly behind your head, is only loud when you ask it to be. The ride is admittedly stiff.
Our test car had optional 18-way power sport seats which provide generous lateral support, especially on the seatback. The leather is soft and the padding is reasonably cushy.
Even with the optional adjustable suspension set to Normal, the Cayman S rides pretty stiff, partially due to the optional 20-inch wheels. It's especially jiggly in Sport mode.
The mid-engine flat-six is quiet when cruising in 7th gear, gets intoxicatingly loud at full throttle. Tires are noisy. Some minimal wind whistling near the side window strip.
InteriorDespite being a low-slung sports car, the Cayman isn't a chore to hop in and out of, as the bubble-like roof gives good headroom. The center stack and console are too busy for our tastes, cubby space is lacking. And those cupholders?
Excellent driving position with an airy forward view. New center console layout is clean, but the center stack is still too busy. No cubby for phone, iPod plug resides in glovebox.
It's pretty easy to get in/out of the Cayman as the seat isn't too low or overbolstered. No fear of knocking head on roof. The door sills are a bit tall, but this is a sports car.
Headroom is not an issue, even for big guys, due to the tall roof. Elbow room, though, is tight both on door-side and center armrest. Footbox is small for driver and passenger.
Forward view is good due to narrow windshield pillars. Driver's side rear three-quarter view makes lane-changes a breeze. A rear camera is not available, and it could use one.
Interior cubbies are few and small, and the flip-out cupholders are some of the world's worst. The front trunk can fit good-sized hard luggage, and the rear cargo area is handy, too.
ValueYou don't buy a Porsche Cayman S based on value. But if you did, it would stack up quite well against the considerably more expensive 911, as its performance is only ever-so-slightly less. But try to avoid Porsche's enormous option sheet.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Like most Porsches, there's too much use of hard, unpadded leather. The build quality and execution are quite good, although our test car had a rear cargo area rattle.
The Cayman S starts at $63,800 with the 6-speed manual. Bluetooth, height-adjustable seats, cruise control and a 4-speaker/100-watt stereo with an aux-in jack come standard.
As we've said before, optioning any Porsche is a quick route to poverty. The PDK transmission alone costs an extra $3,200, and our fully optioned test car was priced at $101,200.
The EPA rates the Cayman S with the PDK paddle-shift gearbox at 24 mpg combined (21 city/30 highway). We averaged just 20.6 mpg overall, 24.7 mpg on the 116-mile Edmunds test loop.
The Cayman's basic warranty is 4 years/50,000 miles, the same as a BMW M3 and better than the Nissan 370Z, but the Z slightly bests the Porsche's 4-year/50,000-mile drivetrain coverage.
Porsche gives roadside assistance for 4 years/50,000 miles, but does not offer a free maintenance program for 4 years/50,000 miles like BMW does.
Fun To DriveA high-rpm flat-six wailing away just inches from your head. The perfect mid-engine sports-car layout for precise handling. A phenomenally-quick-acting paddle-shift gearbox. Body-hugging sport seats. How can you not have fun?
The Cayman S is truly a fantastic sports car. Sharp steering, adjustable suspension, snug seats and that intoxicating flat-six, which sounds better the more you rev it.
The Cayman S has a dual personality. Keep the revs low, leave it in Drive and it's quiet and smooth. Put it in Sport Plus and it turns into mind-dazzlingly loud, sports-car nirvana.