Spoiler Alert! The 2014 Porsche Cayman S is the most perfect sports car you can buy (with the Corvette C7 a very close second). What Stuttgart has put into this third generation Cayman is nothing short of amazing. And the scary thing is that you don’t have to go too far back to find a 911 that would be proud to have the Cayman’s specifications.
The Cayman S is a 2-door sports car that in some ways is a throwback to the days when mid-engine, perfectly balanced coupes were the best way to tame canyons and conquer curves. Let’s be honest. Porsche is a sports car company, entrenched in racing, that makes passenger cars. Every other (mass produced) car company manufactures passenger cars and occasionally dabbles in racing and building sports cars. I would also put BMW in that conversation, but to a lesser extent.
Back to Porsche…..I’ve been fortunate to spend time with their engineers and designers and I get it. I understand their obsession. I also understand their frustration every time a new Porsche rolls off the assembly line, knowing that there is less than a one in 10 chance of that Porsche seeing track time by that owner. The second, third and fourth owners are much more likely to take it on the track and the Cayman is built for track time.
The list of mid-engined sports cars you can buy today in America today for under $100,000 is short. Lotus has the Exige and in a few months, Alfa Romeo will introduce the mid-engine 4C, but for now, the Cayman (& Boxster) are it. Mid-engine is categorized by having the weight of the engine centered forward of the rear axle, whereas rear-engine has the weight aft of the rear axle (like the 911). The reason this is a superior design is because it give the car better weight distribution and consequently better handling. Too many “sports cars” are focused on power and acceleration, but in a race, those two attributes take a back seat to handling, agility and what I like to call ONENESS with your car. If you don’t believe me, find a 911 Turbo owner who is an amateur driver and have him or her race against a professional in a Cayman S on a proper road course.
With a starting price of around $64K and a typical transaction price closer to $85-90K, the Cayman S is not a car that most people can afford. The base Cayman starts at $53K and has 275hp and is not slouch, but the S is the true performer. I’m comfortable stating that less than 1% of the population can actually afford it, but it is substantially more affordable than its big brother the 911 which starts out at $88K or where the Cayman S leaves off.
Engineered for your senses.
2.7-liter flat-six cylinder engine with 275 hp (101.6 hp/liter)
6M or optional 7speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK)
0to 60 mph in 5.4 sec, with PDK in 5.3 sec(5.1 sec w/Sport Chrono pkg) Top speed 165 mph, with PDK 164 mph 30 mpg; with PDK 32 mpg.
CAYMAN S ($63,800) - (PDK = $3,200)
3.4-liter flat-six cylinder engine with 325 hp (+5hp over 2013)
6M or optional 7speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK)
0 to 60 mph in 4.7 sec, PDK in 4.6 sec (4.4 sec w/Sport Chrono pkg)
top speed 175 mph, 174 mph with PDK
28 mpg; with PDK 30 mpg (Auto Start/Stop + Coast technology in PDK)
Models & Pricing
The average Cayman S will easily have over $20,000 of options on it. Here are some of the key ones you need to consider:
Porsche Torque Vectoring ($1,320) Increases dynamic performance and stability by varying torque distribution to the rear wheels and includes a mechanically locking rear differential. When the car is driven assertively into a corner, moderate brake pressure is applied to the inside rear wheel. Consequently, a greater amount of drive force is distributed to the outside rear wheel, inducing an additional rotational pulse (yaw movement) around the vehicle’s vertical axis. This results in a direct and sporty steering action as the car enters the corner. At low and medium vehicle speeds, PTV significantly increases agility and steering precision. At high speeds and when accelerating out of corners, the rear differential lock ensures greater driving stability on a range of surface conditions, including the wet and snow.
Brakes with extra power ($7,400) To match the higher performance limits of the new Cayman, the braking system has been enhanced with stiffer front calipers, an optimized brake pad design, larger swept area, and improved cooling of the brake discs. The new Cayman S has larger front brake discs from the 911 Carrera.
The high-performance Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system remains available as an option. This system features 350 mm diameter brake discs at both the front and rear wheels. PCCB brake calipers are painted yellow, and the front brakes feature new six-piston calipers from the 911 Carrera.
Sport Chrono ($1,850) includes Sport Plus mode and dynamic transmission mounts
The optional Sport Chrono package features PDK transmission settings ranging from aggressive – e.g. for the track – to relaxed, for everyday use.
The most rapid launches from rest; a new PDK-equipped Cayman with the Sport Plus button and Launch Control engaged shortens 0-60 mph sprints by 0.2 seconds compared to normal mode.
The Sport Plus button also activates the PDK “race course” shifting strategy, which provides quicker and later upshifts for maximum acceleration and performance. Dynamic transmission mounts alter their stiffness and damping depending upon road conditions and driver input. With the mounts at their stiffest, drivetrain movement within the body is minimized, improving vehicle response especially through corners and quick transitions.
The concept is similar to a motorsports vehicle, where the engine is rigidly mounted to the body to eliminate engine movement that can negatively affect handling.
What We Liked
Everything. Seriously, we love this car. It's great on the track and it's amazing on day-to-day driving, but here are the three things we most like:
How well the engine, transmission, suspension and steering work together to deliver a World-Class sports car.
The roominess of the interior cabin which benefited from the added 2.5 inches of wheelbase.
The presence of this "baby 911" which is becoming more and more distinctive.
What We Didn't Like
Some of the controls for the infotainment are a bit quirky, but they are a far improvement from past models.
Would like an option to turn off all driver's aids including Anti-Lock Braking, Stability control and Traction control.
Would like to see Porsche pre-package certain options as a "track bundle."
Recommendations / Competition
I usually get to spend a week with each test car, but in the cast of the Cayman S I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks and that extra week made a big difference. It made me realize just how much I love this mid-engine sports car, but also how useless it is in everyday life. Anytime I had to pick up my two kids, I'd have to lug out the old Land Cruiser (which I love). Bottom line is that unless you live on a canyon and have access to great roads and occasional track time, it's hard to justify this purchase, but I have a hard time justifying most new cars. But what is important is that Porsche nailed the Cayman S. It drives pure. It handles like a cheetah on a hunt. Every control from the paddle shifters to the Sport Plus button are perfectly positioned for the driver in each of us. I just want an open track with plenty of tires, brakes and gas to play all day. Willow Springs or Laguna Seca will do just fine. I don't just want three laps, I want 30. And the best attribute of all for this Cayman S may be how effortlessly it drives in the most demanding of conditions. It's predictable and when you are driving on the track, that is a major consideration.
Is the 2014 Corvette Stingray more car for the money? Yes. Is the Cayman S worth $90K? Probably not. But then again, people who buy a Porsche aren't necessarily concerned with anything except the assurance that they are driving the most advanced and highest performance cars on the planet.
One of the most comical things to me about the Cayman S is how many of my colleagues have criticized this car for the Electromechanical steering which is new for the 2014 model. I say bullshit! The steering is wonderful and is as dialed in as a Rolex. Those of us who love cars always want to hang on to the past because we believe those old cars were better. Not true. Old cars are cool, but technology needs to evolve and the 2014 Cayman S is right where it needs to be.