People who know me will tell you I come across as quite a happy-go-lucky fellow, who loves to laugh away most things good or bad. While it might not take much to get a chortle out of me, it does take a mighty doing for a car to amuse a bunch of serious motoring journos who have gathered from all corners of the world to have a go at Porsche’s latest baby, the all new 2013 Porsche Cayman. So does the new Porsche succeed in doing so?
Before we get to the laughing matter, let’s delve into a little bit of history about Porsche’s middle ground sportscar. The fact is that not many purists were actually happy about the Cayman coming into this world. Well I don’t blame them considering, the Cayman is actually derived from Porsche’s entry level sportscar, the Boxster but is actually meant to give you thrills more akin to the iconic 911. While that might not go down well with many who would rather choose a Boxster and upgrade to a 911, I think the Cayman slots in perfectly between the Boxster and the 911 and is perfect for those who find the Boxster too meek but can’t afford the 911.
Now I’m a pretty big Porschephile and I simply love the 911, but my obsession with the brand pretty much ends there. The Cayman has always been an amazing sportscar to begin with, but it didn’t really tingle my fantasy buds as far as the looks were concerned. For me it always ended up looking confused. While the 911 always had definite proportions with Porsche working on it subtly for every new model, the Cayman came across as a cross between the Boxster and the 911 but was pretty as neither.
But Porsche has worked hard on the new car and this time not only is it as focused a driving machine as it always was but also looks the business while at it. First glimpse of the car standing at the Dubai Autodrome left an immediate impression. The first thing that hits you is that the front is more 911ish than ever, and flows well with the more compact dimensions of the Cayman. A walk-around tells you that the styling is marked by precise lines and razor-sharp sculpted edges which emphasise the car’s low, extended silhouette with the windscreen shifted forward and the roof line that reaches far back.
Especially expressive and characteristic are the dynamic recesses in the doors, which guide induction air into the distinctive air scoops on the rear side panels and then directly to the engine. This offers the most prominent visualisation of the basic concept of the mid-engine. Overall there are a lot of minor changes all around which spruce up the looks of the new Cayman and overall the new car comes across as more independent than before and is extremely well differentiated from its predecessor.
What best way to acclimatize to a fast car than on the track. With 5.39 km of brilliant Dubai Autodrome tarmac beneath us, we had more than ample room to put the Cayman through its paces. The gracious people at Porsche even arranged for a nice slalom run which would enable us to experience the smart trickeries that the Cayman offers.
With the cars lined up, I immediately slipped into the Cayman S which is clearly distinguished with its optional but yummy 20 inch alloys. Ingress is typical of most sportscars and you really have to squat low to get in. But once in, you realize everything just envelops around you. Pressing all the buttons, making all the adjustments and I finally managed to get the desired seating position. The insides are typically Porsche offering all the luxuries you need but still being extremely driver oriented. Well that’s about all the time I had to notice the interiors before the lead Panamera headed out of the pits.
We started with a warm up lap after which I got to unleash all the fury of the 3.4 litre 6-cylinder engine. With 325 PS at the rear wheels and 370 Nm of torque, the Cayman S lunges forward with alacrity akin to a bullet. I continue my assault on the tarmac but the Cayman S refuses to flinch no matter how hard I try. While I had to be careful not to overdo it and turn into a lifelong slave for Porsche, I knew I was pretty close to my limits but barely anywhere near the Caymans. Shifting well over 7000 rpm, the Caymans flat six was playing a symphony which sounded even better than the Burmester sound system in the cabin.
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