Completely redesigned for the 2014 model year, the Porsche Cayman enters its third generation with an impressive -- albeit short -- history of wowing critics and consumers. Known for its superb driving dynamics, the Cayman, along with most other Porsches, is almost universally accepted as one of the best cars for serious drivers on the market.
The 2014 iteration of this car comes with updated styling, brand new engines, an upgraded interior, completely revamped handling components and in two versions: The Cayman and the Cayman S. Most of my time spent on this drive was behind the wheel of the Cayman S, which employs a bigger 3.4-liter flat-six cylinder engine, Porsche's 7-speed automatic transmission instead of a 2.7-liter engine and six-speed manual gearbox.
The mission here was to tackle some stellar roads in the Portuguese countryside, as well as attempt to keep up with professional drivers at the nasty Autodromo Internacional Agarve race track in order to see if this Cayman is truly the "ultimate driver-focused mid-engined sports car," as Porsche claims.
So is this the ultimate driver's car? I hopped a plane headed for sunny Portugal to find out. Click through to see what I liked -- and didn't -- about the 2014 Porsche Cayman S.
Invoice Price: NA
As Tested (with options): $88,220
Engine: 3.4-liter flat-six cylinder
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Performance: 325 hp, 272 lb-ft of torque
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Seating: 2 people
Cargo: 15 cubic feet
The exterior of the Cayman was redesigned for 2014, although it's not entirely evident at first glance. Rather than restart from scratch, Porsche opted to sharpen and restyle the outside of the already handsome Cayman, giving the car an even more aggressive and athletic look. To achieve a sportier look, the new Cayman employs a longer wheelbase, an extended roofline and larger wheels as well as more subtle cues, like new air intakes and daytime running lights that are intended to set it apart from its Boxster sibling.
Porsche insisted we should not call the Cayman the "Boxster Coupe" and wanted to ensure that the two look completely different. In reality, this car looks a lot like the Boxster, but that's not really a bad thing. The Cayman is a beautiful vehicle. Porsche tightened up some blemishes that stood out in the previous generation, namely its rather bulbous rear end. This car looks mean, sporty and poised to eat up any road -- a true reflection of its driving dynamics. But more on that later.
As a part of the redesign for 2014, the interior of the Cayman received some much-needed TLC, though a lot of it is a carryover. Many of the complaints received by the previous Cayman were regarding its rather sparse cabin, so Porsche added some more luxury and technological features.
For starters, the interior looks nicer. With a variety of two-color leather packages, colors like lime gold (sounds tasty) can be paired with agate gray to make seats suited to the driver's (however outlandish) tastes.
Speaking of seats, the standard sport seats in the Cayman are fantastic and the optional "sport seat plus" is divine. With remarkable lateral support, side bolsters and backrests, these things are perfect for both around the town driving and throwing the Cayman around on the track.
Porsche focused on ergonomics with its interior update, as well, placing the gear-shifter and infotainment display with closer reach. And more options are available, like a high-end Burmester Audio system, which is stellar, provided you prefer the radio over the sweet, sweet sound of the Cayman's exhaust.
But make no mistake: This is not a luxury car and buyers expecting an interior that tailors to comfort won't find it in this vehicle. Almost everything about the Cayman's design -- inside and out -- is aimed at creating the ultimate sporty driving experience and while a few upscale touches are nice, this is not a place to kick back and relax.
Passenger And Cargo Room
Passenger room is quite good. The driver and one other passenger will find plenty of leg, waist and headroom, courtesy of the Cayman's new roofline and elongated wheelbase.
Cargo capacity has been increased to 15 cubic feet, which is more than enough to lug around groceries or travel bags. The fact that the car has two available spots for storage -- in the front and rear, courtesy of it being a mid-engine car -- gives it a surprising amount of versatility.
OK, here we go.
It's hard to sum up just how incredible it feels to be behind the wheel of a vehicle like this -- a vehicle aimed at providing the ultimate driving experience on the road from the most fundamental step in its creation. "Fun" doesn't even scratch the surface when it comes to describing the Cayman's driving dynamics.
From the moment the engine roars to life, the car becomes a way of transcending all of life's problems. All that matters to the driver is the feel of the steering wheel, the weight of the gas pedal, the sound of the rushing wind, the blues and greens of the world as they blur past. Driving the Cayman through winding roads in the Portuguese countryside got me much closer to Zen than any spacey yoga instructor ever did.
This experience is achieved through the tireless efforts of Porsche designers and engineers, who have built the new Cayman based on years of Porsche success and a few new tweaks that really add to the experience.
Driving Dynamics (cont.)
First and foremost of these tweaks is the new engine. The Cayman S employs a 3.4L flat-six cylinder, which produces 325 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque. That may not sound like much to some of you who prefer their cars a little muscular, but believe me, it's more than enough to get this car moving fast. With a 60-pound reduction in weight, the Cayman is light on its feet and can get you 0-60 mph in around 4.6 seconds. That is darn quick.
Porsche has also made some changes to the Cayman in order to improve its handling. It lengthened the wheelbase, created a brand new chassis, gave the Cayman bigger wheels and employed electromechanical steering. All of these details add up to utterly impeccable handling on the road. The car is incredibly balanced, responsive and agile as a result of these advancements, obeying the driver's every whim even at very high speeds.
Finally, Porsche's Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (isn't German a beautiful language?) 7-speed automatic transmission is probably the best I've ever driven. Called the PDK for short, the thing practically reads your mind, downshifting before you even begin to turn and upshifting so fast and so smoothly during acceleration it almost takes your breath away.
Tech And Infotainment
The Cayman uses a 7-inch touchscreen for most functions, including audio control and GPS navigation. It's a fairly clean, easy-to-use interface. But there's not much to write home about here, besides the fantastic Burmester Audio system, which I mentioned in an earlier slide.
I did have some issues with the GPS. While attempting to navigate to my hotel, the computer decided to improvise a little bit, literally taking me down the cart paths on a nearby golf course. To its credit, that was probably the most direct route to the hotel, but the golfers bailing out of the way and course supervisor who patiently instructed me that I was not, in fact, on a real road, were not happy with its selection.
The Cayman S with the PDK gets 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, courtesy of a reduction in weight and a couple of fuel-saving features. The Cayman uses Start-Stop technology, which shuts off the engine while sitting at lights and stop signs and a coasting feature, which causes the engine to only consume enough fuel to remain at idle while the car coasts down the road. Porsche says the coasting featuring can translate to a one half mile per gallon fuel savings.
All in all, Porsche designed the Cayman S to be the "ultimate driver-focused mid-engined sports car" and I think they were remarkably successful in doing so.
Lighter, more aggressive, even more balanced and great looking, the 2014 Porsche Cayman S is a fantastic vehicle with very few flaws. Of course, it's going to cost you. The $88,220 price of my tester isn't exactly attainable, but I'm inclined to say that it is worth every penny.
After all, the Cayman S provides driving bliss of the utmost magnitude -- a true moment of purity in an chaotic and ever-changing world.
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