2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray Z51 vs. 2014 Porsche Cayman S Comparison Test on Edmunds.com

2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray Z51 vs. 2014 Porsche Cayman S Comparison Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (2)
  • Comparison (1)
  • Long-Term

2014 Porsche Cayman Coupe

(3.4L 6-cyl. 6-speed Manual)

Go With Your Gut

  • Comparison Test
  • 2014 Porsche Cayman S Specs and Performance
  • 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Specs and Performance

Forget the numbers and know this: The 2014 Porsche Cayman S is quite simply one of the best sports cars you can buy. It's a behemoth of packaging, weight and price relative to the world's great performance cars. And it's those very qualities that make it a candidate for comparison with the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. The Stingray (on paper, at least) dominates the Cayman with more power, bigger tires and a reputation for comparison test domination.

Though each company's sports-car-building philosophy is wildly disparate, neither is wrong. The Cayman S is a sneaky predator: less powerful, but lithe and incredibly responsive. The C7 Corvette is a brute of a car, a snarling beast that's at its best when reined in with electronics. It's also quicker in virtually every measurable way. But does that make it better?

This test aims to find out.

Here's What the Numbers Say
The Corvette's base price of $54,795 gets you a 460-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, while the $63,800 Cayman S and its 3.4-liter flat-6 comes to play with only 325 hp. Our generously equipped test vehicles kick the as-tested prices up to $69,375 and $87,485, respectively. Despite the many extras, both are equipped with manual transmissions: six speeds in the Cayman and seven in the 'Vette. And without our Cayman's $6,730 Burmester premium audio system, more than $80 grand is a hard pill to swallow for an entry-level Porsche.

Chevy Corvette vs. Porsche Cayman S

Then there's performance. The Corvette hits 60 mph in 4.3 seconds (4.1 seconds with 1-foot rollout as on a drag strip) on its way to a quarter-mile time of 12.4 seconds at 113.7 mph. The Cayman S requires 4.6 seconds (4.4 seconds with 1-foot rollout) to get to 60 mph and runs in 12.8 seconds at 108.8 mph at our drag strip. The Stingray scores again in the handling tests, weaving through the slalom at 73.5 mph while the Porsche trails slightly at 72.3 mph. The same goes for the skid pad, with the 'Vette circling at 1.05g to the Cayman's 1.0g.

And at the Streets of Willow road course, a track that distinctly favors handling over power, the Corvette clocked a lap time of 1:24.6, smoking the Cayman's 1:27.0. Pit them against each other at Willow's big track and the Porsche would be even further outclassed.

The question, then, is this: Do better numbers make the better car?

Numbers Are for Accountants
Driving the Stingray hard is an exercise that demands both skill and commitment. Disable the 'Vette's advanced stability control and you're left with a car that wants to powerslide: especially once its tires exceed their optimal temperature. And that, for lesser drivers, can easily mean a visit to the runoff.

In stark contrast, the Cayman S is intuitive and tidy. It's a second skin reacting as an extension of your central nervous system. There is an instant trust and understanding of what the midengine Cayman will do beyond its performance envelope, and it's an absolute joy to explore those limits.

Chevy Corvette vs. Porsche Cayman S

With Sport Plus driving mode engaged, the Cayman S is a mind reader. Lift the throttle mid-bend and the tail swings ever so gently to the outside, allowing you to maintain that slip angle as long as you choose. Sport Plus also engages rev-matched downshifts that perfectly synchronize the engine speed with the next lowest gear. Slam down a gear and release the clutch — no thought required.

Rev-matching is also featured in the C7, but you have to be more deliberate about your timing. Rush it, and you're greeted by a clunk and a lurch that rebounds through the driveline.

Are These Electronics Really Helpful?
Selecting Sport mode in the Stingray triggers an ever-present second-guessing of your intentions. And it's not elegant. The throttle ignores your inputs until you unwind the wheel. Then the engine springs back to life abruptly and unexpectedly. Forget about rotating the Stingray in Sport mode, as the system ungracefully shuts down any oversteer.

Yes, switching to Track mode solves the problem by granting the driver more direct control while boldly daring him to push harder. But in the end, the reins are again tightened as Performance Traction Management begins to do the driving for you. The Cayman, on the other hand, playfully encourages you to stay balanced on the edge all day long. And it's this honesty of character that gives it a rewarding advantage, even if it's not as quick.

The Porsche is intuitive in a way that a car relying on electronics (however good they are) could never be. It's also just a better-handling car. By virtue of having its engine both between the axles and behind the driver, the Cayman rotates, responds and balances on the edge of grip better than the Stingray. Aggressive pitch and dive motions common to midengine cars are pleasingly absent in the Cayman.

Its strengths lie in its subtlety. The fact that no component of the Cayman's personality dominates the driving experience is its greatest asset. It is the very definition of balance. Power, handling and braking meet in perfect measure. And it is very, very good.

Justifying the Price
Being slower but feeling better is the automotive equivalent of "having a great personality." Those who live on emotion alone will love the Cayman. But even those folks must resolve the right- and left-brain conflict when it comes to the bottom line. It's a problem that's easily assuaged with the knowledge that the Porsche is the better-built car.

Chevy Corvette vs. Porsche Cayman S

Though "attention to detail" is an overused expression, it's appropriate in this comparison where the differences can be can be seen, felt and even smelled. Everything about the Cayman's interior exudes a custom-tailored fitment. The wheel, pedals and gearshift feel as if they were molded just for you, blurring the line where the driver ends and the car begins. Buttons have a positive click and all controls are intuitively placed. Open the door and you're instantly intoxicated by the smell of luxuriant leather.

The C7 is undoubtedly the best Corvette built to date, but it's still unmistakably an off-the-rack Corvette. You don't get the feeling that it becomes part of you; rather, it's a powerful machine that (most of the time) reacts to your commands. Knobs and buttons in the 'Vette are wobbly compared to the Porsche and the cabin seems to be more flash than substance. Crack open the door and you're hit with a wall of off-gassing adhesives and chemicals.

On the road, neither car is punishing in everyday driving. Both Porsche and Chevrolet do a masterful job of quelling bumps and ruts while still maintaining the kind of suspension stiffness that sports cars require. The Cayman does have the upper hand in terms of refinement, though. Wind and road noises are quieted in the Porsche to grand touring levels, while the Corvette's tires create a hollow drone on some surfaces and an intrusive rush of white noise on others.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette is fast. Terrifyingly fast at times. It dares even the best drivers to dial back the electronic nannies. And whatever your skill level, the Stingray's safety nets remove the driver from the equation in a way that also removes some small bit of the experience.

The 2014 Porsche Cayman S is the sports car distilled down to its most pure components. It mixes power and handling in such perfect proportion that driver aids are laughably unnecessary. And its higher build standard yields a sophistication the Stingray can't match. The little Porsche lacks the Corvette's bravado (it won't even do burnouts), and it struggles in any objective measure of speed relative to the Stingray.

But it doesn't matter. The Cayman S is a masterfully executed sports car that makes the numbers virtually irrelevant. It lulls its driver into a state of oneness unmatched by the Stingray. And in doing so it wins this test.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Model year2014 Porsche Cayman S
Year Make Model2014 Porsche Cayman S 2dr Coupe (3.4L 6cyl 6M)
Vehicle TypeRWD 2dr 2-passenger Coupe
Base MSRP$63,800
Options on test vehicleInfotainment Package With Burmester Audio ($6,730 -- includes navigation, satellite radio, HD radio, Internet streaming audio); Adaptive Sport Seats ($3,465); Leather Interior ($2,385); Sport Chrono Package ($1,850 -- includes dynamic transmission mounts, stopwatch, sport plus button); PASM ($1,790); 20-Inch Carrera S Wheels ($1,560); Porsche Torque Vectoring ($1,320); Premium Package ($1,170 -- includes auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, xenon headlights with cornering lights and washers); Front and Rear Parking Assist ($860); Ventilated Seats ($730); Rear Wiper ($360); Telephone Module ($265); Sport Design Steering Wheel ($250).
As-tested MSRP$87,485
Assembly locationOsnabruck, Germany
North American parts content (%)4
ConfigurationLongitudinal, midengine, rear-wheel drive
Engine typeNaturally aspirated, direct-injected flat-6, gasoline with auto stop-start
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3,436/210
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable intake-valve timing and lift
Compression ratio (x:1)12.5
Redline, indicated (rpm)7,500
Fuel cutoff/rev limiter (rpm)7,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)325 @ 7,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)272 @ 4,500
Fuel typePremium unleaded (required)
Transmission typeSix-speed manual
Transmission ratios (x:1)I: 3.31; II: 1.95; III: 1.41; IV: 1.13; V: 0.95; VI: 0.81; R: 3.0
Final-drive ratio (x:1)3.89
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric speed-proportional power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)16.5
Tire make and modelPirelli P Zero
Tire typeAsymmetrical summer, high-performance, (30 psi cold front; 30 psi cold rear)
Tire size, front235/35ZR20 88Y
Tire size, rear265/35ZR20 95Y
Wheel size, front20-by-8 inches
Wheel size, rear20-by-9.5 inches
Wheel materialAlloy
Brakes, front13-inch one-piece ventilated cross-drilled with four-piston fixed calipers
Brakes, rear11.8-inch one-piece ventilated cross-drilled with four-piston fixed calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)1.8
0-45 mph (sec.)2.9
0-60 mph (sec.)4.6
0-75 mph (sec.)6.4
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)12.8 @ 108.8
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)4.4
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)2.1
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.3
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)5.2
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)7.1
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)13.2 @ 107.7
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)4.9
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)26
60-0 mph (ft.)101
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)72.3
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON69.3
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)1.0
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON1.0
Road course lap time (sec.)01:27.0
Sound level @ idle (dB)54.5
@ Full throttle (dB)86.8
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)68.6
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,600
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsObviously a bit more technique involved here with the manual six-speed versus the PDK's launch control, which is just set it, floor it and hang on. The Cayman S needs lots of revs (about 6,000-6,200 rpm) and a drop-clutch launch to break the tires loose and keep them spinning through most of 1st gear. Otherwise you lose some time to bogging. It easily hits 60 mph in 2nd gear. The flat-6 sounds terrific right behind your head. This manual transmission is absolutely fantastic, light action yet with utterly precise gates. Can shift it with incredible speed and never miss a gear. In Sport Plus it will blip the throttle for you as you downshift, though I wish it did not, as it screws up my own throttle blipping.
Braking commentsGood firm pedal, but with a huge degree of feedback through the pedal as to the grip the tires are encountering. Pedal stayed consistent. First stop was longest at 106 feet. The fourth stop was shortest at 101 feet. The sixth and final stop was 102 feet.
Handling commentsSlalom: In some ways I prefer the Cayman S's maneuverability through the slalom over the 911 Carrera S, as it exhibits less understeer and feels a bit more precise. Being smaller and lighter definitely helps, and the narrower tires don't appear to hurt it that much in this exercise. Skid pad: As with the 911, the Cayman S can be steered around the skid pad not with your hands, but rather with your right foot. It's incredibly sensitive to throttle inputs, but not in a knife-edge kind of way. Instead, it transmits everything it's doing back to the driver. 1.0g? Pretty impressive.
Testing Conditions
Test date8/20/2013
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (°F)83.0
Relative humidity (%)43.0
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.85
Wind (mph, direction)3.0, head/cross
Odometer (mi.)853
Fuel used for test91-octane
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)30/30
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)23 combined/20 city/28 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)21.0
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)16.9
Driving range (mi.)473.2
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo description12-speaker Burmester premium audio
iPod/digital media compatibilityOptional iPod via USB jack
Satellite radioOptional Sirius
Hard-drive music storage capacity (Gb)Not available
Rear seat video and entertainmentNot available
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard
Navigation systemOptional hard drive, 7-inch display screen (measured diagonally)
Telematics (OnStar, etc.)Not available
Smart entry/StartNot available
Parking aidsOptional parking sonar front and rear
Blind-spot detectionNot available
Adaptive cruise controlOptional
Lane-departure monitoringNot available
Collision warning/avoidanceOptional
Night VisionNot available
Driver coaching displayOptional
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)2,910
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,078
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)45.3/54.7
Length (in.)172.4
Width (in.)70.9
Height (in.)51.0
Wheelbase (in.)97.4
Track, front (in.)60.1
Track, rear (in.)60.5
Turning circle (ft.)36.0
Seating capacity2
Trunk volume (cu-ft)9.7
GVWR (lbs.)3,649
Payload, mfr. max claim (lbs.)761
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain4 years/50,000 miles
Corrosion12 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance4 years/50,000 miles
Model year2014 Chevrolet Corvette
Year Make Model2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 2dr Coupe (6.2L 8cyl 7M)
Vehicle TypeRWD 2dr 2-passenger coupe
Base MSRP$54,795
Options on test vehicleBlade Silver Metallic, Custom Sill Plates With Stingray Logo, Preferred Equipment Group ($8,005 -- includes standard equipment; Bose advanced 10-speaker system with bass box; HD Radio with additional 9 months of Sirius/XM Satellite Radio service (1 year total); Memory Package with recall for 2 driver "presets" for 8-way power seat, outside mirrors and tilt-and-telescoping steering column; frameless, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror; Universal Home Remote with garage door opener and three programmable channels (located on driver visor); heated and ventilated driver and passenger seats with power bolster and lumbar; head-up display with color readouts for street mode, track mode with g-meter, vehicle speed, engine rpm; cargo net and luggage shade; theft -deterrent system for body content security and unauthorized electrical entry; body-color, heated, power-adjustable outside mirrors with driver-side auto-dimming; navigation with 3D maps; premium leather-wrapped leather instrument panel, center console and door panels; perforated napa leather seating surfaces), Visible Carbon-Fiber Roof Panel ($1,995 -- includes removable, visible carbon-fiber roof panel with body-color surround), Magnetic Selective Ride Control ($1,795 -- includes Magnetic Selective Ride Control; Performance Traction Management), Dual-Mode Performance Exhaust ($1,195 -- includes dual-mode performance exhaust with additional horsepower, aggressive exhaust sound and 4-inch polished stainless-steel tips ), Carbon-Fiber Interior Appearance Package ($995 -- includes carbon-fiber instrument panel trim), 19" x 8.5" Front and 20" x 10.0" Rear Black Aluminum Wheels ($495), Carbon Flash-Painted Rear Spoiler and Outside Mirrors ($100)
As-tested MSRP$69,375
Assembly locationBowling Green, Kentucky
North American parts content (%)100
ConfigurationLongitudinal, front midengine, rear-wheel drive
Engine typeNaturally aspirated, direct-injected V8, gasoline with cylinder deactivation
Displacement (cc/cu-in)6,162cc (376 cu-in)
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainPushrod, 2 valves per cylinder, variable intake + exhaust-valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)11.5
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)460 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)465 @ 4,600
Fuel typePremium unleaded (recommended)
Transmission typeSeven-speed manual with automated rev-matching
Transmission ratios (x:1)I=2.97, II=2.07, III=1.43, IV=1.0, V=0.71, VI=0.57, VII=0.48
Final-drive ratio (x:1)3.42
Differential(s)Electronically controlled clutch-type limited slip
Suspension, frontIndependent double wishbones, transverse leaf spring, self-adjusting magnetorheological dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent double wishbones, transverse leaf spring, self-adjusting magnetorheological dampers, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist, speed-proportional, variable-ratio rack-and-pinion
Steering ratio (x:1)17:1 to 12:1
Tire make and modelMichelin Pilot Super Sport ZP
Tire typeAsymmetrical, high-performance summer performance
Tire size, frontP245/35ZR19 89Y
Tire size, rearP285/30ZR20 95Y
Wheel size, front19-by-8.5 inches
Wheel size, rear20-by-10 inches
Wheel materialAluminum
Brakes, front13.6-inch one-piece ventilated slotted cast-iron discs with four-piston fixed calipers
Brakes, rear13.3-inch one-piece ventilated slotted cast-iron discs with four-piston fixed calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)1.9
0-45 mph (sec.)2.9
0-60 mph (sec.)4.3
0-75 mph (sec.)6.0
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)12.4 @ 113.7
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)4.1
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)2.0
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.0
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)4.4
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)6.1
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)12.42 @ 113.96
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)4.1
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)25
60-0 mph (ft.)99
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)73.5
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON70.9
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)1.05
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON1.00
Road course lap time (sec.)84.55
Sound level @ idle (dB)51.8
@ Full throttle (dB)88.8
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)72.2
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)1,500
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsLaunch control did a good job of regulating wheelspin, yet it hardly made a difference from a data perspective. A near-bog no-wheelspin run essentially matched it and I beat it by a couple tenths with traction control shut off. I tried various amounts of spin and they all produced shockingly similar and highly consistent results. I did try the no-lift-shift feature and as cool as it is because it's typically forbidden, in reality it is no quicker than my usual shifts. The short gearing forces a 1-2 shift prior to 60 mph and even requires a shift to 4th for the quarter-mile. The Stingray is quick (quicker than C6 base coupe), sounds glorious, but it falls short of OMG-fast. I guess that's what a Z06 and ZR1 will be for.
Braking commentsInitially firm pedal feel ends with a little squish at the end of its short travel. The shortest stopping distance occurred on the seventh stop, proving these brakes have plenty of thermal capacity. Straight, steady, no drama.
Handling commentsSlalom: After I had dialed in the mode(s) that best suited my preferred feedback and the demands of slalom test (Track, Sport 2), then it became a matter of chipping away at the times with subtle techniques that exploited the car's electronic aids as well as the limits. It's easy to discover the limits and either avoid them or step right over them and file it in the manifest of things the Stingray does or doesn't want to do. I especially appreciated the crystal-clear and highly precise steering, the zippy turn-in, the progressive break-away of the tires and the sophisticated traction control on exit that doesn't merely chop the throttle, but stutters it to maintain momentum and direction. Although I couldn't hear it (like in the Nissan GT-R), I could sense the diff hard at work sorting out which side of the car needed/wanted power at every moment. Immensely capable and highly accessible performance without the C6's vaguely threatening demeanor. Wow. Skid pad: Absolutely nutty amount of grip for a road (not race) car. Steering remains informative and precise despite the tremendous loads. The Stingray will either under- or oversteer at will, which speaks to its impressive balance. With ESC fully on, the throttle fades out right before the car would need more driver involvement (e.g. steering and/or throttle modulation) to go any quicker. It's likely a "civilian" wouldn't even notice this happening at 1g. Impressive.
Testing Conditions
Test date8/20/2013
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (°F)91
Relative humidity (%)28.00
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.81
Wind (mph, direction)3, headwind
Odometer (mi.)1,621
Fuel used for test91 octane
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)30/30
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)21 combined/17 city/29 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)15.9 (20.5 best/worst 12.8)
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)18.5
Driving range (mi.)536.5
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo description10-speaker Bose audio system with bass enclosure
iPod/digital media compatibilityGeneric aux jack, multiple iPod via USB (3)
Satellite radioStandard with 1 year of Sirius included
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard with phone and audio streaming
Navigation systemOptional with traffic, 8-inch display screen (measured diagonally)
Telematics (OnStar, etc.)Standard OnStar
Smart entry/StartStandard ignition/doors/trunk/hatch
Parking aidsStandard rearview camera
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,298
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,443
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)49.8/50.2
Length (in.)176.9
Width (in.)73.9
Height (in.)48.8
Wheelbase (in.)106.7
Track, front (in.)62.9
Track, rear (in.)61.7
Legroom, front (in.)43.0
Headroom, front (in.)37.9
Shoulder room, front (in.)55.2
Seating capacity2
Trunk volume (cu-ft)15
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion6 years/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance5 years/100,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenance2 years/24,000 miles
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