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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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

2013 Porsche Cayman Review
2013 Porsche Cayman Review

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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2013 Porsche Cayman Review
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Porsche Cayman Specs

981 MY13 : 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
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$69,410 - $78,880
Dealer Retail
$67,060 - $79,750
Dealer Trade
$53,300 - $63,100
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
64Litres
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
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
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 Front 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
Driver
Voice Recognition System
Engine & Transmission
Diff Locks
Entertainment
Premium Sound System, Television
Exterior
Metallic Paint, Metallic Paint Special, Xenon Headlights
Interior
Aluminium Trim, Carbon Fibre Trim, Leather Upholstery, Wood Grain Trim
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  20,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Pass Side Windscreen
Country of Origin
Germany