2013 Porsche Cayman | Road Test
|Good||Excellent balance, Precise Handling, Lightning fast shifts|
|Bad||As with all Porsche's, it can get quite expensive with options|
|Specs||Cayman S (Cayman) : 325 hp (275 hp), 370Nm (290 Nm), Mid-Engine, RWD, 7 Speed PDK or 6 Speed Manual|
|Price||Starting from AED 195,000 (Cayman) AED 230,000 (Cayman S)|
Stuttgart’s Motoring Genius
Emotion. That is what makes a car special. And Porsche knows how to make a piece of metal evoke enough emotion to make fully grown men weak in their knees. Known for the 911, Porsche only started making entry level cars less than a decade ago. And these were neither taken too seriously nor did they interest the average petrolhead too much. Fast forward to 2013, and things have changed. For the good. We drove the new Boxster and absolutely loved it. So when Porsche Middle East invited us to spend some time driving the 2013 Porsche Cayman on the track as well as the mountain twisties it was hard for us to say no.
First, lets get the boring stuff out of the way. The 2013 Porsche Cayman is built on the same platform as the Boxster with a slight bump in power. In standard trim the engine churns out 275 hp and 290 Nm of Torque. In the S version you get an additional 50 horses taking the total to 325 hp and 370 Nm of Torque. This is an improvement over the outgoing model. And for those of you that have been living under a rock, the outgoing model was a fantastic little car that was a complete hoot to drive. The wheelbase is extended by 2.4 inches and widened by 1.6 inches with shorter overhangs while the 2013 Porsche Cayman is now lighter and is 15 percent more fuel efficient. Good. Now that we’ve got all the numbers out of the way, let me describe to you what it was like thrashing the 2013 Porsche Cayman around a track and carving up the road towards Kalba and back.
At the track we had a chance to experience the different technologies Porsche now offers on the Cayman. First on the list was PTV (Porsche Torque Vectoring) which works like a limited slip differential with the intelligence of Albert Einstein. What this basically does is vary the speed of the inside wheel on a turn along with using selective braking on each of the wheels. The result is greater traction and a reduced risk of understeer by making your steering extremely precise. You can’t tell when it is working, which makes you feel like a driving god. However, step into a car without PTV and you instantly notice the difference. PTV allows you to push the car much closer to its limit increasing your fun quotient exponentially.
Next was the infamous electric steering. Every petrolheads pet peeve, it is soon becoming a standard on most modern cars. Electromechanical steering allows for lighter and much more precise steering as opposed to conventional hydraulic setups. However, they also tend to steal some feedback from the road making it feel a little numb. The 2013 Porsche Cayman comes with power steering plus. Porsche’s version of a speed sensitive steering. A quick autocross sprint made the difference obvious. The electric steering feels light and makes steering at low speeds a lot easier while taking away some of the feel. The standard electromechanical setup on the other hand feels a lot more stiffer at low speeds and requires more effort to drive but is also much more rewarding. Sort of like playing a video game in different difficulty modes. The satisfaction you get out of finishing the game on a tougher level is always greater. Keeping with Porsche tradition, you can spec your car exactly how you want it and that means you can choose to have the power steering plus or not. Porsche insisted that this was a convenience option and not a performance option. Considering most Cayman buyers would be performance oriented, this might not be an option that makes it to the order sheet too often then. Neither of the steerings offer the feedback you would expect from a traditional hydraulic system but nonetheless, they work brilliantly.
Having spent some time caning the Cayman and the Cayman S on the track it was now time to drive the Cayman on public roads, where most Cayman owners would really be driving it. And that meant, a mix of city roads, highways and the famous Kalba twisties. My test car for this journey was a nicely spec’d 2013 Porsche Cayman. That meant it came with adaptive cruise control, a multi function steering wheel, PDK(for lightning fast gear changes), 19” wheels, power ventilated seats, Bose sound system and Porsche Communication Management. A nice and low seating position coupled with a mid-engine setup ensures a low centre of gravity along with excellent front to rear weight balance. While driving around town I just stuck the gear lever in D, letting the car take care of my gear changes. With 7 gears to choose from the car almost always chose the optimum gear to maximise fuel efficiency while offering a comfortable drive. Engaging sport mode made the car a tad bit more responsive while choosing a lower gear and making the drive slightly more involving. Press the Sport+ button and everything changes. You now only get 6 gears, the tone of the exhaust becomes much more aggressive and gear changes are quicker than you can blink accompanied by a beautiful burp out of the exhaust. In Drive, the car chooses the gear, delaying upshifts as much as possible while downshifting at the slightest hint of pressure on the loud pedal. Sport+ mode was best enjoyed in Manual mode giving you full control over the gears. The gears can either be shifted by pushing the gear lever forwards and backwards or can be shifted via the buttons on the multifunction steering wheel. The buttons were counter intuitive, get in the way during quick steering and I personally found it annoying to use. The paddle shifters on the other hand are simple. Left paddle to downshift and right to upshift. It is available as a no-cost option and is definitely the option to go for. Porsche, please get rid of the button shifters altogether and use paddle shifters as standard on all your models.
The Cayman corners like a superstar. Be gentle on the throttle and it behaves like a disciplined factory worker. Get a little naughty with the loud pedal and steering and it is very easy to throw this mid-engined beauty into a graceful dance, sliding out of corners on all 4 wheels while feeling completely in control. Having driven the Cayman as well as the Cayman S, I must admit both the cars are equally fun and the lack of power on the Cayman is only ever noticeable on the straights where the ‘S’ pulled away every single time. Stopping power has been upgraded too with the Cayman now sharing the same brakes as the ones on the big daddy 911. The suspension setup is tuned to induce the biggest smile possible on tight corners while not completely compromising ride quality. The seating position along with the ride is comfortable enough to be able to live with on a daily basis however this is no GT so expect to get a little twitchy in the seat during longer drives.
On the interior the cockpit is nice and compact with all the controls within easy reach of the driver. Being a strict 2 seater, the extent to which the seats can be adjusted is a little limited. Acrobatic skills aren’t required but plus size individuals might not be the most comfortable in the Cayman cockpit. The leather is of typical Porsche quality that can’t be faltered. Fit and finish is premium as you would expect of any Porsche and the centre console is filled with enough buttons to confuse anyone suffering from ADD instead of a standard rotary controller that most manufacturers have now adopted. The base 2013 Porsche Cayman costs $52,500 while the S trim starts at $62,000. This however does not mean a thing as with any Porsche, by the time you are done with the options checklist you will be nowhere close to the starting price. Options(new for 2013) include Adaptive cruise control, a premium Burmester sound system and keyless go,
I said it when I drove the Boxster first and since this is built on the same platform it isn’t very different. The 2013 Porsche Cayman, has a lot of technology and electronics that aid you in enhancing your driving experience. However, at no point does it take away from you that mechanical feel. There is an instant connection with the car as soon as you slip into the drivers seat. Add to this, Porsche’s exclusive program which allows you to personalise your car exactly how you want it and that just adds to the experience. From having options like PTV to the colour of the stitching on your dash.
In today’s market, 325 bhp does not sound like a lot. Neither does a 0-100 kph time of 4.9 secs break any records. However, it is the way the 2013 Porsche Cayman gets around the corners, delivering pure aural pleasure with every upshift all the way to its top speed of 280 kph. The way you feel while behind the wheel carving up the beautiful mountain roads, at speeds you could risk losing your license at. Very few cars in todays market are capable of drawing such emotion while packaging an engineering genius in a gorgeous shaped aluminium shell. And that is what makes the 2013 Porsche Cayman a special car