2014 Porsche Cayman Full Test on Edmunds.com
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2014 Porsche Cayman Full Test

2014 Porsche Cayman Coupe

(2.7L 6-cyl. 6-speed Manual)
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Bang, Meet Buck


The year 2006 is a significant one in Porsche history. That's when the guys from Stuttgart slapped a fixed roof on a Boxster S and named it after the home of offshore banking. But you didn't necessarily need a numbered Cayman Islands account to buy a Porsche Cayman, which was only one of many reasons Porsche-watchers began to think there just might be something more desirable than the venerable 911.

The Cayman, and more powerful Cayman S, benefit greatly from the inherent superiority of the midship engine placement (compared to trunk-mounted ones, at least) in terms of balance, weight distribution and generally getting on better with the laws of physics — not to mention luggage. We recently rattled off 10 reasons why we'd choose the Cayman over the Porsche everyone usually worships.

Until now there's only been the one Cayman. Sure, in 2009 Porsche upped the power and replaced the five-speed manual and Tiptronic gearboxes with real ones, but the 2014 Porsche Cayman represents the first total redesign of this highly desirable and somewhat affordable machine.

Fatter and Skinnier
Longer, lower, wider is an automotive design mantra that we have no trouble with, which is fortunate because that's what has been done (sort of) with the new 2014 Porsche Cayman.

2014 Porsche Cayman

Compared to the old car, the 2014 Cayman is only 0.3 inch longer, but its wheelbase has been drawn out 2.3 inches, which means the overhangs have shrunk and the already-good polar moment of inertia thingy is even better. At 70.9 inches the body is no wider, but the front tires have been pushed apart another 1.4 inches, while the rears are fractionally wider. As for the height, that's been trimmed by 0.4 inch.

The redesigned aluminum and steel monocoque at the heart of it all has been trimmed by 103 pounds, while torsional rigidity has shot up 40 percent. Some of the lost weight has been given back in the form of 30mm-wider standard tires and larger-diameter wheels, but not all of it, because the 2014 Cayman remains 44 pounds lighter.

Less Is More
Under the hood you won't find anything, of course, except room for a suitcase or two. The Cayman's hidden-under-the-package-shelf dry-sump engine has shrunk from 2.9 liters to the 2.7 liters it started with when the S-less Cayman was introduced in 2007. But this time it has the direct injection fuel system and 12.5-to-1 compression ratio that was previously reserved for the Cayman S.

And so our 2014 Porsche Cayman test sample makes 275 horsepower, 10 more than last year's larger 2.9 and a full 30 more than the original 2.7-liter flat-6. Power is up across the entire rev range, peak power comes at 7,400 instead of 7,200 rpm and the redline has been hiked to 7,800 revs. All of which only makes the Cayman's patented banshee wail that much more intoxicating.

2014 Porsche Cayman

Our six-speed manual gearbox is the base offering. It's geared tall enough that 2nd gear lasts until 75 mph and the first couple gears sometimes feel clumsy in stop-and-go city traffic. But the transmission ratios and the 3.89-to-1 final-drive ratio are essentially unchanged, so what's going on?

Last year's standard 205/55R17 front and 235/50R17 rear rubber has been jettisoned in favor of 235/45R18 front and 265/45R18 rear wheels and tires; our test car has the optional ($1,560) 19-inch 40-series equivalents. Either way the rear-drive tires are fully 1.1 inches taller, which amounts to 4 percent taller gearing. Guess how much greater 275 hp is compared to last year's 265 ponies. That's right, 4 percent.

It's as if they'd changed the rear end to a taller 3.73-to-1 ratio, but they did it with tires instead. But peak torque is actually down slightly in 2014, falling from 221 pound-feet to 213 lb-ft, the wrong direction for smooth casual upchanges with taller effective gearing.

Trackluster
This may explain why our run to 60 mph took 5.8 seconds (5.5 seconds with 1 foot of rollout as on a drag strip): good, but not excellent. Or perhaps the engine was tight; surprisingly, it was delivered to us blessed for testing with only 819 miles on the clock.

2014 Porsche Cayman

For grins we ran a 2014 Porsche Cayman S with 325 hp and the optional seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automated manual down our track. It did the same trick in 4.5 seconds (4.2 seconds with rollout). Grins indeed.

Our standard Cayman loomed large with the engine out of the equation, though. Its 19-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tires glued themselves to the skid pad to the tune of 1.0 lateral g. They hauled our Cayman down from 60 mph in just 103 feet via the outstanding standard-issue brakes, which didn't fade or stink after seven consecutive runs.

Balance and response on the slalom was excellent, but the ESC system was a little too eager to "help," so our best run with the nanny engaged was 69.5 mph instead of the 71 or 72 mph we'd predicted.

Back Road Rock Star
Still, the standard 2014 Porsche Cayman feels mighty potent on public roads. It attacks apexes as if laser-guided and the midcorner grip through the wider track and fatter tires feels unending. On exit, the optional PTV brake-based torque-vectoring system ($1,320) allows us to put what power there is down early through the tightest bends.

All the while our 19-inch-shod Cayman shrugs off midcorner ripples as if they aren't there, and it rides fairly smooth when we get back to town, especially with the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM, $1,790) adaptive dampers in "Normal" mode. We can't say quite the same about the 2014 Cayman S with the optional 20-inch Pirellis, which seem to prefer smoother pavement.

2014 Porsche Cayman

Some say the new electric power steering has a tad less feel. But we'll take it anyway because the response is immediate as the variable ratio quickens off-center (12.4-to-1) and the EPS unit filters out annoying rough-road vibrations and kickback.

On the straight and narrow, the longer wheelbase and slower on-center steering ratio (16.5-to-1) conspire to make our 2014 Cayman stable and predictable, a more relaxed cruiser. The EPS system helps here, too, as it fends off the debilitating effects of crosswinds and extreme road crown.

Interior of Requirement
Inside, the 2014 Cayman is very well put together. The driving position is spot-on, the seats are comfy and they manage to provide lateral support without resorting to rib-crushing confinement. Ours were optional 14-way power sport seats with power added to the tilt-and-telescoping steering, and a memory that remembers the position of each.

The center stack has been cleaned up and the climate controls have been moved to a more accessible and distinct position. Our optional Porsche Communication Management with Bose 10-speaker surround system ($4,690) is the middle offering if you want navigation. You can pay $700 less for a non-Bose stereo/nav system, or $2,610 more for a higher-end Burmester setup. iPod integration is standard via a USB port and each supports A-Ha Web-based infotainment with the appropriate iPhone or Android app.

Bluetooth is standard at any of those prices, but there's no back-up camera to be had, just a Park Assist front and rear sonar proximity alert system for $860.

2014 Porsche Cayman

Switchgear reminiscent of the Panamera surrounds the new shifter, which stands a bit taller so it's closer at hand. The six-speed manual's precise clutch and shifter action are pretty special, even with the newly added stop-start system, which kills the engine to save fuel at stoplights and restarts it seamlessly before you depress the clutch far enough to reselect 1st. It also comes in handy as an anti-stall device. Don't ask us how we know.

There is an off switch for the stop-start system, but then you'll risk missing out on the rated 20 city/30 highway/24 mpg combined fuel economy, which are 1/3/2 mpg better than last year's less powerful mill. We managed 29.3 mpg on a 118-mile test loop that includes entertaining mountain roads, a dash of city and some freeway driving. Our overall 1,125-mile average with lots of dreary commuting sank to 21 mpg.

The Surprise
Some have grumbled that this entry-level Porsche is pricey, and indeed our test car's $70,160 as-tested price isn't cheap because of Porsche's notorious options list, which will kill your toner cartridge if you print it out. But no one said you'd be able to cross-shop one of these against a Dodge Dart. Here "entry level" means that only one earner in your household needs to be a lawyer instead of two.

2014 Porsche Cayman

But this new Cayman is, in fact, a relative bargain when you compare it to prior years. Its base price of $53,550 with destination is only $700 higher than the 2011 and 2012 editions (the Maya were right: there was no 2013), and it's just $1,200 more than Porsche was asking in 2010.

In those years the wider 235 front/265 rear 18-inch tires were a $1,235 option, so on tires alone you could say the 2014 Porsche Cayman is actually cheaper going back four years. The 2014's enhanced stability and grip, extra power, increased mpg, improved interior: It's all gravy.

Even without this insight it's clear the 2014 Porsche Cayman has lost none of its appeal. It's a much better Cayman on a number of fronts, even if Porsche engineers did hijack the extra power for fuel economy instead of raw acceleration. They know as well as anybody that the Porsche Cayman has the potential to be a better Porsche than the 911, but they're not quite ready for that to be obvious on paper.

But we know which one we like better out on the road. And if we want more there's always the Cayman S.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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Comments

  • empoweredbc empoweredbc Posts:

    "The other Porsche coupe" is now the BETTER Porsche coupe!

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    A car that weighs the same as a Civic, yet comes equipped with 235 and 265 section tires. It's also mid-engined and has a low CoG. Is it ANY surprise this thing sticks like there's no tomorrow? Just an amazing sports car.

  • joefrompa joefrompa Posts:

    275 HP in a rwd 3000 pound package is probably good for mid to high 13 second quarter mile times, which is plenty fast. Your 0-60 time is questionable, no offense meant anyway since it's a crappy measurement of acceleration. The only thing I can think of is maybe 1st and 2nd gears are just a bit too tall to really rock out acceleration. That all being said this is the single most desirable NEW porsche I have looked at in some time. A nearly 8000 rpm redline, a beautifully appointed cabin, enough cargo space for real duties, lovely simple gauges. And you just know that flat six sounds gorgeous bouncing off that rear glass. And darnit, I actually like this new cabin more than the previous one by a fair bit. Which eliminates the chance of getting it any time soon at a post-depreciation price.

  • c7s c7s Posts:

    FYI. They named it after the Caiman. A species of crocodile known for being agile and quick. They did not name it after the Cayman Islands. But overall, good article, great car.

  • ghills ghills Posts:

    The car still has the bubble forehead. Just so wrong.

  • sharpend sharpend Posts:

    Sigh. Why can't anyone test a Porsche without all those options? Testers praise the base price but they NEVER test a base car. It sure would be nice to see a review of a no option 'entry-level' car to see if all those acronym options can be left out entirely and still be left with a car worth buying.

  • 1krider1 1krider1 Posts:

    The Cayman is named after a breed of Alligator, not an Island. Insideline journos need to step up their game.

  • joefrompa joefrompa Posts:

    Sharpend - Obscure, but Porsche magazine Excellence tested a "stripper" cayman in 2007. 5-speed manual, base engine, 17" wheels, no real options. They absolutely loved it. I had a '99 boxster at the time with 60k miles on it in impeccable condition. I sold it, which was the right choice at the time, but I miss it. However: The original 2.5 liter engine and 5-speed manual was too weak for me to love. Sure, it handled as if the Fist of God himself was holding the car down....but too little go for me. Also, the original boxster had a bit more chassis flex than my tastes allowed. Top down it was great. Top up and you noticed the flex. The cayman is calling me for round two, especially with these new engines.

  • jederino jederino Posts:

    @ghills, I guess I do see that it has a bubble-head a bit. Ok, it's not as gorgeous as the 911 to my eyes, but it looks better than any sports car up to its price.

  • cjasis cjasis Posts:

    @sharpend - the testers only get what the manufacturers provide. PCNA is at fault here for only offering highly optioned cars, not the testers.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    @joefrompa I wonder if Porsche deliberately gave the base car has been given the crazy gearing to blunt its 0-60 time. It could also be a cost cutting measure in that they used the same ratios despite the taller tyres. That way they also get better EPA nu

  • cjasis cjasis Posts:

    BTW Edmunds - Porsche's seat labeling for the US market is somewhat misleading. The seats shown in the pictures accompanying this article are labeled as "sports seats" but they are not, in fact, the more aggressively bolstered, optional true sports seats (sold as sports seats plus or adaptive sports seats plus). The base "sports" seats are good, the optional seats are much, much better. Sadly, it doesn't look like the lightweight, carbon fiber sports bucket seats which were standard on the GT3, Boxster Spyder and Cayman R of the last generation are coming across the pond. Shame. Those are really, realy good sets but the side airbags are problematic for current US crash testing (or so I've read).

  • Impressive sports car even with the base engine. The low polar moment of inertia and low center of gravity give this car handling that nearly defies physics. The long list of expensive options is ridiculous though. Optional steering wheel? Was the windshield optional too? Perhaps goggles are standard. The one characteristic that helps give the Cayman (and Boxter) its amazing handling - the low mounted mid-engine - is a mixed blessing. Sometimes it's nice to be able to pop the hood and admire the engine - something that cannot be easily done with this car. Great sports car none the less.

  • jederino jederino Posts:

    @enginer_mba: The other downside to mid-engine layout is that, for safety's sake, Porsche tuned for mild understeer. That's maybe splitting hairs, because most rear-engined cars may have even more understeer (e.g. 3-series).

  • @jederino - True that.

  • @jederino - Also, I think that instead of tuning the chassis of rear-engine and mid-engine cars for understeer for safety and legal liability, auto manufacturers should allow more neutral handling (more rotation) and let the stability control correct any

  • markstudy markstudy Posts:

    Great review... more details than any of the others I've read. Thanks for testing the base model, I was getting tired of reading about the "S" in every publication. I drove the 2014 Cayman (981) and the 2012 Cayman (987) and agree that the new Cayman is faster and handles better. I ended up buying the old Cayman (987) as it kept me on the edge of my seat when it came to driving hard on public roads. The 981's new bigger wheels, longer wheelbase, wider track, lower height, higher belt-line... all work together to improve the safety and speed of the new Cayman, but for me.. take away some of the nervousness, drama, danger and sense of driver involvement that I got from the 2012 Cayman on the same public roads (I drive aggressively on the street, but only get to the track once or twice a year). I took both cars to a fast/twisty section of back road. The 981 took the road easily with no effort on my part. I was able to maintain a normal conversation with the salesman. The 987 was a bit more of a handful, tested my skills, and left me feeling exhilarated when we finished. What I want to hear most from these type of car comparison test in the future.... is when do cars reach a tipping point? On Public roads with-in reasonable liberties from posted speed-limits... as cars get "better" do they become too easy to drive? After tackling a wild stretch of road in both cars, I walked away from the 2014 Cayman ready for a business meeting. After the same stretch in the 2012 Cayman, I walked away slightly shaking from the adrenalin, ready for a shower, and with a huge smile on my face.

  • jederino jederino Posts:

    @markstudy: which engines did you try, and what did you end up with?

  • assad1 assad1 Posts:

    Sorry to say for such a nice looking car, but it has a MAJOR PROBLEM. Many Boxster + Cayman owners are having a very bad stall problem with their PDK (see 10 pages of complaints!!) http://www.planet-9.com/981-cayman-boxster-problems-complaints/82893-base-boxster-hesitates-starting-dead-stop-10.html My mate almost got wiped during a turn when his car failed to respond for about a second. VERY BAD PORSCHE!!!

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