“Few high performance coupes are as fun to drive as the handsome, high-quality Porsche Cayman.”
Now in its second generation, the Porsche Cayman is essentially a fixed-roof coupe version of the brand's successful Boxster. Designed to rival models such as the Lotus Evora and Audi TT RS, the Cayman promises to deliver plenty of driving fun and explosive acceleration. Yet the addition of a high-quality interior and decent comfort means the Porsche is as composed on the motorway as it is on a twisting back road. The entry-level 2.7-litre car has all the performance you could need, while the 321bhp Cayman S makes an excellent cut-price alternative to the brand's legendary 911 Carrera.
As you’d expect, the Porsche Cayman is a delight to drive. Well-weighted and direct steering, strong grip and incredible agility deliver lots of driving thrills, while the impressive brakes are progressive and powerful. In fact, it's as much fun on a twisting back road as the more expensive Lotus Evora. Most drivers will find the 272bhp 2.7-litre engine is more than fast enough, as it will accelerate from 0-62mph in only 5.4 seconds. However, for buyers seeking even more performance, the muscular 321bhp 3.4-litre should fit the bill. Both engines are fitted with a precise six-speed manual gearbox as standard. As on the old car, Porsche's excellent PDK semi-automatic gearbox is available as an option.
What's really impressive about the Porsche Cayman is its ability to mix dynamic driving with surprising comfort. The driving position is excellent, while both driver and passenger get plenty of leg and headroom. And while the ride is firm over bumps, it's far from uncomfortable. Factor in low levels of wind and road noise, and the Cayman is a remarkably relaxed and quiet choice for long motorway journeys. There's also the option of Porsche's adaptive suspension dampers, which allow the driver to choose between a racy Sport setting and a much softer Comfort mode.
Porsche has a hard-won reputation for reliability – and the new Cayman should be no exception. The tried-and-tested engines have already been seen in the latest Boxster and 911, while the rest of the car feels very robustly constructed. Porsche also scored an impressive top 10 finish in Auto Express's 2012 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. You can expect impressive safety standards with the Porsche Cayman, too. Despite being around 30kg lighter than it's predecessor, the new Cayman's bodyshell is much stronger. There's also a full complement of six airbags, plus an advanced electronic stability control system. And if you’ve got deep pockets, you can select the optional ceramic brakes and bi-xenon headlamps.
Given its strict two-seater layout, the Porsche Cayman is a surprisingly practical choice. The interior is roomy and there's plenty of storage space, including a large glovebox and decent-sized door bins, plus a deep and well-shaped 150-litre boot in the nose of the car. As with the Audi TT, the Porsche Cayman benefits from a versatile hatchback tailgate, which opens to reveal a 162-litre load area. Fill this space to the roof, and the capacity increases to 275 litres. However, it's worth noting that there's no cover to protect your luggage from prying eyes when you use the full capacity. And, unlike the Lotus Evora, there's no option to add a pair of occasional rear seats.
Value for money
It's not exactly cheap to buy, but the Porsche Cayman's high performance, entertaining driving dynamics and impeccable build quality, mean it does actually represent remarkable value for money. The only real bugbear is the lack if standard equipment – we’d expect a car of this price to have Bluetooth connectivity as standard, at least - plus the high price of the optional extras if you want to add anything. Still, strong resale prices mean that the Porsche will hold onto it's value and you’ll get more of your cash back from any deal when it's time to sell. More worryingly for Porsche, the more powerful Cayman S is so good that you’ll struggle to justify spending more than £20,00 extra on the firm's legendary 911 Carrera.
Owning a high-performance sportscar is never going to be a cheap business, but the Porsche Cayman is better than most. Thanks to its decrease in weight and the addition of the Porsche Boxster's more efficient engines, the Cayman is now around 15 per cent more efficient than its predecessor. For instance, the 2.7-litre version promises to return 34.4mpg and emit 192g/km CO2. Spend extra on the seven-speed PDK semi-automatic gearbox and these figures improve to 36.7mpg and 180g/km respectively. However, it's not all good news, as while the Cayman will be reliable, regular servicing costs are likely to be high. You’ll also have to factor in high insurance costs.