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  • Great chassis balance; brilliant engine note; quick enough even in base form; PDK auto has multiple advantages over manual; relatively practical
  • More-expensive-to-build Boxster twin cheaper; tyre noise; some expensive options such as $1850 for metallic paint

OUR RATING
10 / 10



2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review

It’s hard to believe Germans have viewed the Porsche Cayman as the poor man’s Porsche since the model was introduced in 2005.

Regarded as one of the great-handling sports cars and half the price of the 911 (at least in Australia), it’s also surprising the compact coupe is the company’s lowest-volume car in a majority of international markets.

It does lack some crucial details, of course, for buyers looking for the 911’s iconic silhouette, race-bred status or its speed.

Another deal-breaker for some is the fact the Porsche Cayman misses out on those two bonus kiddie seats at the back, but that’s not to say the strictly two-seat Cayman doesn’t get its own level of weekend-away practicality.

Built on the new, lightweight architecture that underpins the latest Boxster and 911 models, the second-generation Porsche Cayman not only sheds up to 30kg, but it’s also larger than its predecessor.

As a result, there’s more space inside for both passengers and luggage, with some surprisingly clever storage solutions for what is otherwise a relatively tight fit for two people.

Under the bonnet you’ll find a deep storage space able to swallow several soft bags, while the rear hatch provides an even larger load area – though, not nearly as cavernous. Add the two lidded storage bins either side of the mid-mounted engine bay and the entire storage area collectively yields up to 425-litres of carrying capacity.

2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review

The interior itself is smart and business-like, rather than plush luxury. But it’s also a tasteful blend of high-quality materials and some beautifully tactile switchgear and brushed metal accents.

The Cayman, like its Boxster brother, also gains the rising-bridge console design that’s now deployed right across the Porsche range.

The number of buttons will depend on how much you’ve spent on options – and there are quite a few of those to consider: Sport Chrono package, active damping and sports exhaust are among several available on the Cayman.

One of the more reasonably priced goodies is the Sport design steering wheel ($950) – superb to hold, and beautiful to look at with its gleaming aluminium spokes and paddleshifters.

And the new Cayman, priced from $107,100, gets plenty of standard kit including power everything with one-touch up-down windows, a CDR audio system with seven-inch touchscreen that controls the in-car entertainment and a host of other familiar comforts.

On the driver’s side there’s the three classic round instruments of the Cayman model series, with a large central rev counter flanked by speedometer and a new 4.6-inch multifunction screen that doubles as a map display for the satellite navigation.

It’s all nice and intuitive too, except for the smallish heater controls that are submerged under the main screen, making access difficult at times.

2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review

However, the driving ergonomics are faultless. In fact, the latest sports seats are so perfectly shaped and bolstered they will feel like bespoke builds made for yours truly – yes, they are truly that good.

Outside, Cayman’s design evolution also continues for the better. The old model suffered from something of an identity crisis: one part 911, one part Boxster and one part rogue gene.

The new design though, is stunning – and better balanced visually.

Of course the two Porsche coupes are fundamentally quite different, with the 911 being a rear-engine and the Cayman a mid-engine configuration shared with the entry-level Boxster convertible.

The base model Porsche Cayman uses a naturally aspirated 2.7-litre flat-six engine generating 202kW of power and 290Nm of torque.

That’s more power than the previous model, despite losing 200cc in displacement. The latest version gets direct injection and is good enough to propel it from 0-100 in 5.7sec, or 5.4sec with the optional Sport Plus and PDK transmission (as tested).

But for those wanting something extra from their Porsche, there’s the more powerful and more expensive 3.4-litre Boxster S ($138,600). Armed with a 239kW/370Nm, zero to 100km/h is dispatched in 4.7sec in the same spec.

2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review

Certainly, the standard Cayman isn’t the quickest thing in its class. There are cheaper German coupes on the market, such as the $78,600 BMW 135i Sport that needs just 5.2sec to complete the same run.

But it’s no Porsche Cayman, and nor does it sound like one.

The flat-six fires with a metallic, visceral sound, much like the old-school air-cooled 911, but even more satisfying.

It’s simple mechanics really.

The Cayman’s mid-engine platform puts the high-revving six directly behind your head, whereas the 911’s engine is planted behind the rear axle and is further muted by additional bodywork and those back seats.

It soon settles down into a silky, high-tempo whine, until you slip the twin-clutch PDK into drive and pull away.

There’s none of that slow-moving jitter that still plagues Volkswagen’s DSG transmissions in stop/start conditions, just a smooth transition from crawl to canter in the Porsche.

2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review

The quick-shifting seven-speed PDK is also superbly refined, swapping gear ratios up and down the range, as effortlessly as only the best single-clutch automatics can manage.

The shifts points are well timed to reflect your driving style, and even when left in the lazy automatic mode, the Cayman delivers perfectly timed throttle blips during quick-pace braking.

But for those more spirited moments, the Cayman delivers its most satisfying performance in manual mode and using the paddleshifters. The paddles themselves are nicely weighted and the cog swapping is instantaneous.

The 2.7-litre engine will happily spin out to 7400rpm, and there’s also just enough torque to pull the 1350kg car quickly through the lower revs, too.

Pressing the standard spec Sport button modifies the throttle response and moves the shift points further up the rev range.

The Sport Plus mode (a feature with the PDK) modifies engine response further, but compromises the linearity of the power delivery and gearshifts. We found the standard setting to be more than enjoyable for most conditions.

While you probably won’t buy a Cayman for its outright pace, when it comes to handling and ride it’s difficult to think of a sports car that is so perfectly balanced.

2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review

With its mid-engine configuration delivering near-perfect weight distribution, the nose turns into corners faster than anything with a front-positioned engine.

There’s loads of grip and the car remains well composed even when the surface changes from smooth asphalt to bumpy patchwork roads.

It’s just so predictable, and with all the responses so wonderfully linear and forgiving, the Cayman will inspire all the confidence you could need to keep pushing on.

It doesn’t seem to matter how hard you thrash the Cayman, there’s no oversteer, no understeer, not even the slightest wriggle at limit.

More remarkable still is the damping and ride quality afforded.

In almost all conditions and on any surface, the ride is stiff but supple. And that’s shod with the optional 19-inch wheels and the dynamic engine mounts (part of the Sports Chrono package), which effectively reduces the level of suspension compliance.

The steering is very, very good. That’s despite the latest Cayman swapping the previous hydraulic power steering system for an electromechanical unit.

2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review

It’s quick, precise and there’s decent feedback through the steering wheel that lets the driver know precisely what the front wheels are doing.

The brakes are also utterly brilliant. Not just their stopping power, but the pedal weighting and linearity simply adds to the Cayman’s ability to throttle-up in the bends.

All this and the Cayman remains surprisingly fuel-efficient, too. Porsche claims you’ll get 10.6L/100km (combined) and after several hundred kilometres pushing hard during our test of the car we averaged 12.8L/100km.

Sure, there are faster sports cars out there and there are certainly cheaper sports cars that you could favour unwisely.

But the Cayman offers a more complex bang for its buck. This is a masterwork of performance and handling with a breathtaking responsiveness that will simply make you strive to be a better driver.


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PORSCHE CAYMAN BREAKDOWN

2013 Porsche Cayman Review
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  • Homer

    Anthony, I get the impression you like this car :)

    • anthony

      I can’t rate the Cayman highly enough. A truly epic driving experience.

      • guest

        But it still isn’t a 911. And I’d still long for a 911, probably a 993 Carrera S even if I did have a Cayman.

        It could be said the Cayman is the modern day Honda NSX. Because the new NSX certainly isn’t a fitting replacement for the original. In the class, the Cayman is certainly the pick of the bunch – even despite the price.

        • anthony

          That’s what most folks think, until they get behind the wheel of the Cayman on some twisty mountain stretch. Then it becomes perfectly clear – there’s nothing better this side of $200K.

          • Zaccy16

            i agree, i have driven the last gen and was blown away with the handling and with this new gen it sounds even better and the interior is a big step up!

  • Joe

    …….still as ugly as a hatful……..

  • Joe

    Hyundai Tiburon anyone???…..

  • Exar Kun

    Nice to see the base model tested. From all the reviews it sounds like one of the best driver’s cars on the planet.

    • Smart US

      and then there is 86/BRZ – so they say

      • Exar Kun

        Indeed. However the comparisons that have been run were all against the 987 Cayman whereas the 981 seems to be quite a step up.

    • Zaccy16

      yeah i think it is, i just wish i had $140,000 to spend on a car!

  • Rick

    I like the looks of it better than the previous model

  • Mike

    I get it I get it, it’s just a pretty girl who’s impractical.

    • Smart US

      but blows your mind off

  • mo

    Nice car but a bit spiteful that they charge more for the Cayman than the Boxster. Also for this sort of money Porsche really should include a limited slip differential. On a rough slippery/wet surface, the single spinner (open) diff will render the car no faster than a stock falcon.

  • Norm

    Best viewed from the inside

    • DAVIDZ

      agree, looks odd, very odd
      this is like buy a harlyd sporster, its not the full monty

      rather the maserati built alfa romeo 4c

      • Johnno

        Totally agree DavidZ! It hasnt been proven yet, but the Alfa 4c looks like to have better performance for half the price! I deeply respect this Cayman however cant love it like the Alfa 4c.

  • marc

    what a stunning looking package.

  • Cccccccc

    Take it for a drive it’ll change your view on it……….

  • dr sheldon cooper

    Much nicer than prev-gen. From the rear, one can almost pretend it is a 911 – with better balance, being mid-engine.

    • Billy

      No need to pretend when a Cayman S with decent options is still nearly $50,000 cheaper than a base model 911 (but looks better, handles better and would only look a fraction slower in a drag race)

  • azlan

    ive never been into porsche at all. but i think this looks wayyyy better than the previous model inside and out. actually sounds great and the s is one of the best cars ive driven.

  • peddy.d

    A manual Porsche Cayman S, currently my dream car…

  • Al Tungupon

    MR2 hardtop!

  • Des KSA

    Another stupidly priced product from Porsche. How about giving us a fair deal and stop ripping us off. In the UK a guy can aspire to owning something like this, not in Oz. How many average Joe’s can afford a Porsche without being a drug dealer or a shoddy businessman with a tax dodge. I’m 50+, two houses and a great job but cannot justify spending this much money on something that is only $65000 in the UK.

    • Homer

      Then move to the UK.

      • Smart US

        wrong – lets move UK here and have bigger market to drop prices

        • Homer

          Sure, then we can “enjoy” all the other benefits of the UK, like a drastic reduction in the standard of living, outrageous prices for food, rent, housing, utilities, fuel BUT we’ll get cheaper cars….

          • Smart US

            yeah you right – lets get a bo@t full then

          • dr sheldon cooper

            I think I will stay in expensive Aus…where the chances of getting butchered in the streets is a bit smaller. Of course, THAT can happen here, too….if we dont watch it.

    • Smart US

      Des – i am so with you

    • nick

      As it is almost impossible to enjoy these cars legally in Australia, Porsche realizes that they can only be a status symbol and prices them so they say I have so much money I don’t give a damn. There are only so many people who fall into this category, and if they were priced appropriately this group would no longer want them.

    • dr sheldon cooper

      There are a lot of factors that come into the mix: standard of living, weather, demographics. Like here someone very rightly said, “you can buy cheaper cars IN America …but you will have to LIVE WITH Americans”. I AM American…..and I migrated here (legally, not on a boat)…and I fully AGREE with that guy. Aussies are much nicer people. Bit more racist than Americans, but nicer as a whole.

    • robbo222

      I totally agree. Porsche, BMW, Audi and Mercedes are incredibly overpriced in Australia. Of these Porsche is the worst offender. I suspect most owners of these cars have them as a company car and/or there is a tax benefit to the purchase. Anyone else buying one must like the sound of flushing money down a toilet!

  • Phil

    What was the price as tested? Pretty pointless listing base prices, then describing the drive in a car with a truckload of options fitted without mention of how much all the goodies set you back.

  • quivive

    5 blank buttons on the centre console of such an expensive car. Not even the cheapest cars do that these days!

    • marc

      these are not blanks…these are switches for oil slick, machine gun, bullet shield, ejector seat and flame thrower.

  • $29896495

    I like it but it’s ridiculously over priced.

    • Zaccy16

      not for a millionaire!

  • Hung Low

    I doubt that there would be a more satisfying drive for the money but what’s with that silly ducktail, and Golf like switch gear inside? Some differentiation in these areas would be better.

  • RHCM

    I’d happily choose one of these over a boxster. Shame the price doesn’t make it easy. I love their look way more and they’re obviously all round brilliant.

    It still doesn’t really change that they’re not a classic 911 though. For this kind of coin I’d probably just ‘invest’ in the 911 and keep it twice as long.

  • Porsche thinks we’re stupid

    I’m a fan of the new Cayman, but I’d never buy one new. Tick a few crucial options on the S and you won’t drive away for under $170k. Lets see how much of that you get back after 12 months.

  • Billy

    Better looking than the new 911… The last Cayman looked and drove well but this one appears to have raised the bar. Porsche need a more powerful top of the line Cayman – they need to stop worrying about it toppling the 911 and instead focus on building the Cayman brand and giving it the street cred it deserves.

  • Random

    Is the color metallic brown?

  • Mort

    thanks for doing the base model instead of the S model of the 900th time. Great review!!!

  • MarksmanR

    Nice, but if I was crazy enough to spend this much on a car, I’d probably be crazier and get a 911.

  • paul

    Anthony, I agree with your review.. I have a 2011 Cayman.. and am simply stunned with the road holding and handling of the car.

    I didn’t want a 911, purely for the different driving dynamics of a rear-engined vehicle provides to that of a mid-engined car…

    anyway, its my mid-life crisis. I’ll get the sportscar I want.

Porsche Cayman Specs

2.7L MULTI POINT F/INJ - 7 SP AUTO DUAL CLUTCH - PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL - 2D COUPE
Car Details
Make
PORSCHE
Model
CAYMAN
Series
981 MY13
Year
2013
Body Type
2D COUPE
Seats
2
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
2.7L
Cylinders
INLINE 6
Max. Torque
290Nm @  4500rpm
Max. Power
202kW @  7400rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
150.7W/kg
Bore & Stroke
89x72.5mm
Compression Ratio
12.5
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
7 SP AUTO DUAL CLUTCH
Drive Type
REAR WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
0
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
64
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.7L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1340
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1295mm
Length
4380mm
Width
1801mm
Ground Clearance
120mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:0  Unbrake:0
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
0
Front Rim Size
8x18
Rear Rim Size
9x18
Front Tyres
235/45 R18
Rear Tyres
265/45 R18
Wheel Base
2475
Front Track
1526
Rear Track
1536
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control
Control & Handling
18 Inch Alloy Wheels, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Power Steering, Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Entertainment
CD with 6 CD Stacker, Radio Compact Disc Player
Exterior
Power Mirrors, Rear Spoiler
Interior
Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Security
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft, Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Comfort
Power front seats, Power front seats with memory
Control & Handling
19 Inch Alloy Wheels
Engine & Transmission
Diff Locks
Exterior
Metallic Paint, Metallic Paint Special
Interior
Aluminium Trim, Carbon Fibre Trim, Leather Upholstery
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  20,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
8-G-21
Country of Origin
GERMANY