First impressions

The New Cayman S

By: John Budinich

What do you get when you cross a 991 with a Boxster S - The new Cayman S...

On May 2, 2013 there was another major event at Porsche of Greenville. This was the day Porsche of Greenville held their unveiling of the new Cayman S. Despite the cloudy conditions, Upstate Area members arrived at the dealership beginning at 5:00pm for a PCA Member "Show & Shine". About 21 members displayed their vehicles in the front parking lot and there were Porsches of all models and configurations present, ranging from a 356 to a brand new 991.

Inside the dealership, 7 member vehicles were on display to help put the new Cayman S into perspective. The examples on display ranged from a "Normal" Cayman (please don't call it a base model, it has feelings), a few Cayman S models, a Design Edition 1 version, a Cayman R and a Cayman S racer. These acted as a great appetizer for the main course to come, the new Cayman S under wraps in the center of the display floor. I would like to thank those members for preparing their vehicles and entering them in this display, in spite of the persistent rain. The vehicles on display were: Joshua and Andrea Bloom's 2008 Cayman S, Edward Coon's 2008 Cayman S, Ken Darash's 2008 Cayman S Design Edition 1, Terryl and Shelley Johnson's 2007 Cayman "Normal", Jimmy Martin's 2007 Cayman S Racecar, Matthew Scoffone's 2012 Cayman R and Tim Ziegenfus' 2006 Cayman S. The dealership received a great deal of positive comments about the vehicles on display and the opportunity to see the various iterations of the Cayman.

The party started in earnest at 6:00pm and there were over 160 PCA members, guests and dealership customers in attendance. There was plenty of food on hand including shrimp, steak, vegetables, assorted German cuisine, and various strudels. Refreshments included varieties of beer, wine, soft drinks and water. The guests ate well and there was plenty of opportunity to talk and get caught up with old friends and to make new friends.

At 7:15pm it was time for the main event. After some brief comments from me representing the Porsche Club's perspective on the event, I announced that Porsche of Greenville has signed on as a Regional Sponsor of Carolinas Region PCA, including their featured role as primary sponsor of Sommerfest 2013. Pam Tatum, new General Manager, then introduced her new management team of Eric O'Reilly, New Car Manager, and Robert Schucking, Service Manager. If you get a chance, stop in and meet the new team and see the changes they are putting in place to better serve PCA members. Pam then spoke of the new Cayman and the Cayman S on hand was unveiled. The car looked stunning as the showroom lights reflected off of the Dark Blue Metallic over Luxor Beige Cayman S. The crowd broke out in oohs and aahs along with a hearty round of applause. Then they swarmed over the vehicle to get a better look and to try out the new interior. For the rest of the evening members could be heard commenting on the improvements in size, comfort, style and power of the new model compared to the outgoing model. There were also numerous comments about how Porsche successfully blended the front of the new Boxster with the styling cues of the rear of the new 991. To my eye the new Cayman S looks and feels like a two seat 911.

The final event of the evening was a drawing for some gifts the dealership provided for the attendees, ranging from two certificates for a complete vehicle detail, a weekend's use of a new Boxster and a Porsche Design golf bag. Each attendee also received a poster of the new Cayman and a gift bag containing a Porsche ID lanyard and a solid aluminum Cayman paperweight. In all, it was a very enjoyable evening with great people and great cars.

The Cayman Undergoes Changes

A couple of days after the reveal party, I was back at Porsche of Greenville to experience the new Cayman S first hand. At the unveiling, we all marveled at the new look of the Cayman S and how it has matured. It is lower, wider and longer than the previous model but due to improvements in materials and manufacturing, it is lighter. There is a much stronger family resemblance in the styling cues taken from the Boxster front end, the Panamera interior and the 991 rear end. The sides reflect the Boxster, 991 and Carrera GT. The result is a less aggressive look than the outgoing model with overtones of greater sophistication more appropriate for a "baby 911". To my eye, this is a good thing.

When I first sat in the vehicle, I noticed a carryover from the new Boxster - I fit! At 6'6" and not quite "slim", I was never really comfortable in the previous generation Boxster or Cayman. This new model afforded me at least two inches of headroom, more than sufficient leg room and ample hip and shoulder room. In combination with the electrically adjustable height and reach of the steering wheel and the 14 way adjustable seats, it was easy to find the proper seating position for either spirited corner carving or long distance touring. The central "waterfall" console, similar to those in the Panamera and 911, contained most of the switches and infotainment displays that would be used to set the car up for my test drive.

It was now time to take the car out of the showroom and onto the roads around Greenville. The new Cayman S is fitted with a 2.7-liter motor with 325 hp, 273 lb ft and was equipped with the PDK transmission. Eric took me down some of his favorite "testing" roads and gave me a taste of what the car was capable of. He then turned the car over to me and told me to have at it. First let me say, I was never one for paddle shifting as I have been driving my 5 speed manual 944 since 1986 and I enjoy stirring the gears. That being said, the shift handle of the PDQ in the Boxster and this Cayman S fell perfectly under my hand on the angled center console. With that, I decided I would forgo the paddles and use the shifter. The only thing I would not be using as usual was my left leg. The sound as I pulled out was fantastic, it was throaty and aggressive but more subdued that in the Boxster S.

Eric's test route allowed for a sampling of a variety of roads, from bumpy local streets, smooth secondary roads and some twisties. No matter how hard I drove it, the Cayman S always had more to give: more power, more handling, more brakes, you name it. The suspension was stiff when it needed to be and allowed for some very sure-footed handling without ever feeling harsh. The overall impression was solid but comfortable and I think I would run out of capability and nerve long before the new Cayman S ever would.

The Cayman is both different and the same as the Boxster S I test drove when it first came out. In the Boxster, you are more in touch with the mechanical sounds of the vehicle due to the canvas top, even more so when the top is down. This immerses you more into the experience. The flip side of this is you loose some of the stiffness present in the coupe body of the Cayman S and overall interior room, not to mention storage space. I was enamored with the Boxster but now I am altering my position. The Boxster is a great car for top down cruising and enjoyment of the sights, smells and sounds that open-air motoring provides. The Cayman S is more of a driver's car, with increased power and handling, and the added stiffness needed for mountain roads and occasional track work. A quick comparison of models also shows how the Cayman S slots in between the Boxster S and the Carrera 991. The Boxster S has 315 HP, 266 lb ft, 4.5 sec 0 to 60 in Sport+ and has a base price of $62,100. The Cayman S has 325 HP, 273 lb ft, 4.4 sec 0 to 60 in Sport+ and has a base price of $63,800. Finally, the Carrera 991 has 350 HP, 287 lb ft, 4.2 sec 0 to 60 in Sport+ and a base price of $84,300. To me, the Cayman S slots in perfectly for those looking for more room than the Boxster S but not needing a back seat or the additional extras the Carrera 991 has to offer. The price is attractive when compared to the 991 as well.

Finally, I compared the Cayman S to my 944. The cars are almost identical in length and width. The 944 weighs almost the same at 2965 lb compared to 2976 lbs for the Cayman S. the BIG difference is 27 years of technology and refinement. The 944 only has 147 HP, 140 lb ft and does 0 to 60 in 8.9 seconds. An added side benefit is the new Cayman S would take up exactly the same garage space as the 944. Hmmmm...

I want to thank Porsche of Greenville for the opportunity to test drive the Cayman S. You owe it to yourself to visit your Carolinas Region Porsche dealer for a test drive and to experience the new Cayman S. I can't wait to see what the R version of the Cayman will have to offer.