By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – Porsche’s Cayman is all grown up. The third generation of the German two-seat coupe is so good that it has some wags preferring the car over the venerated Porsche Carrera. But as an admirer of our test car said, it doesn’t matter Carrera or Cayman, they’re both Porsches.
That’s saying a lot. Our 2014 Porsche Cayman S was visually stunning. It had a longer wheelbase, shorter overhangs, larger wheels and it was lower. This Cayman was up to 60 pounds lighter than the model it replaced, depending on the model.
The car’s lines came together to form sharp edges and flowing curves. In many ways it looked like a free form sculpture. The base of the windshield was pulled forward and the roofline extended farther back making the car look a lot longer. Recesses in both doors channeled air into the intakes to help the mid-engine car breathe.
With a wheel-base that was 2.4-inches longer than the car it replaced, the Cayman S had a relatively smooth ride, it was rock solid at high speeds and it cornered as though following a command to make a left or right face in the military.
That S stood for more than style. Rather than the 2.7-liter flat six that powers the regular Cayman, our S version had a 3.4-liter flat six that generated 325 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque from 4500 rpm to 5800 rpm. The six-speed manual transmission was replaced by the optional Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe or PDK. That translated into a dual clutch seven speed automatic transmission.
With the PDK, the Cayman S could get from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Add the Sport Chrono package, which the test car had, and that time was cut to 4.4 seconds. Either or, the top speed of the Cayman S equipped with the PDK was 174 mph. The manual can get a mile more per hour.
Not that you’d care, but the EPA rating for the Cayman S was 21 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined. The Sport Chrono package featured Sport and Sport Plus transmission settings. The latter was really meant for track use and the former should be used in rural areas or when there is not a lot of traffic around.
Shift settings are higher, thus torque is built-up and launches are rapid. That’s another way of saying the Porsche Cayman S will build up the greatest amount of speed in the shortest distance possible. We were very careful to use it only in the early hours of morning.
Porsche’s 2014 Cayman S bristled with technology. Electric power steering replaced the hydraulic set up of the last model. Our test car had an active suspension, torque vectoring and high performance ceramic brakes that had the stopping power of fly paper. The car could and did come to an almost instant halt.
Porsche engineers have learned that for the price of performance creature comforts, lots of them; must be part of the package. The 2014 Porsche Cayman S had a 12-speaker, 800-watt premium audio system with a subwoofer that featured its own 300 watt amplifier.
That is a watershed for Porsche that at one point engineered its audio systems so that the decibels never drowned out the hum of its engines. We didn’t turn the audio system in our test car up to maximum, it just thumped too much.
Our test car had heated and cooled 18-way power seats, adaptive cruise control, Xenon headlamps, park assist, 20-inch wheels, of course Bluetooth, satellite radio, auxiliary and USB jacks and more.
Still, at heart the 2014 Porsche Cayman S was a sports car. It was very quick off the mark, it was fast on the straightaways, it could and did take curves at elevated speeds, it handled with rifle shot, the ride was high performance firm, the engine had that guttural growl and it had the look that said it was something special.
The 2014 Porsche Cayman S had a base price of $63,800. But add on 17 options, which included the $7,400 ceramic brakes, and the sticker came to $101,200. Yeah, that’s steep but hey, it is a Porsche.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.