Last month, during our 0-100-0km/h performance analysis, the Porsche PR guy was with us while we tested the 911 Turbo. During a conversation with him, I learnt about the new museum that the German company had inaugurated in Stuttgart recently. Since I was traveling to Stuttgart for MotoGP this month, it made a lot of sense for me to visit this new showcase of some of the best race cars ever made by Porsche. On learning about my trip, the Porsche guy promptly offered me a drive in the latest Cayman S around Stuttgart since I was traveling there in any case. More than happy to get a drive of the German car in no better place than its hometown, I grabbed the opportunity and a couple of phone calls later, my date with the beauty had been set up.
Back in 2005, around the same time of the year, Porsche showcased the Cayman S at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The car made its debut in 2006 as an intermediate model between the Boxter and the legendary 911. Chiefly based on the Boxter, the Cayman S was an underdog until the Stuttgart company launched a facelifted version of the car for 2009. What is noteworthy here is that the refreshed Cayman S is one of the best Porsches in the firm’s current lineup.
Looking at the Cayman S as a facelift, there are small bits on the exterior front that distinguish the car from its predecessor. The first things you will notice are the revised headlights and a new set of LED day time running lights placed in the faintly redesigned front bumper. At the rear, you come across the aggressive new LED tail lamps and a refreshed rear bumper. Apart from these bits, like a typical Porsche, the Cayman S retains its basic form and gives more importance to better engineering going into the car – something that definitely matters more to the enthusiast than anything else. Get inside the new Cayman S and everything is almost the same unless you opt for the new multimedia touch console and the sports package which includes the chronograph.
Without wasting too much time appreciating this streamlined aerodynamic beauty, I got into the car to get a feel of what the 3.4-litre mill residing behind the seats was capable of. The flat-six cylinder engine now boasts 49cc more than its pervious edition translating to an increase of almost 25PS in peak power and a boost of 30Nm in max torque. What Porsche introduces on the Cayman S this year (as an option of course and at a heavy premium of Rs 2.83 lakh) is the Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe or simply the Porsche Double-clutch Gearbox (PDK). Leaving aside all these details on paper, I decided to fire up the engine to experience everything first hand. The six-cylinder boxer residing a few inches behind the only two seats available in the car make the sound that could make every car buff fall for it. The sharp, deep yet crisp exhaust note even at idle makes you believe that you are about to drive a Porsche which is meant to expel performance in every possible manner.
The Cayman S with the PDK in the normal driving mode manages to accelerate from 0-100km/h in a mere 5.1 seconds. With the Sports Chrono Package which includes a launch control mode, you can achieve this feat in a mere 4.9 seconds. Since I was driving a Cayman S loaded with this package and the first thing I noticed on the centre console was the sports mode, I decided to experience the sheer fun of the exhilarating acceleration myself. Of course, this was after a bit of pootling around town as I made my way onto the autobahn.
The Cayman S turns into a wild beast in the sport mode with the suspension stiffening up, gearshifts becoming quicker and the throttle response improving by a considerable amount. The technical marvel in the form of the PDK makes unbelievably quick gear shifts, however, the push-to-upshift/pull-to-downshift plastic like buttons on the steering wheel take time getting used to. Nonetheless, I was rather busy enjoying the brisk acceleration and the breathtaking 200km/h + speeds at every given speed limitless section of the autobahn – something that is relatively elating for an Indian.
But can a drive in a Porsche be complete without letting it loose around winding roads? Of course not. Hence I decided to take a detour from the autobahn into the woods to grab some of the bends around the countryside roads of Germany. This is where the Cayman S actually came into its true form. Since its launch, it has been the lightest, most responsive and the best handling product from the Porsche stable. What adds to this advantage is the new limited-slip differential offered on the Cayman S for optimum traction out of tight, slippery corners. It allows you to keep the car in the powerband right from the apex as you start exiting the corner and delivers all the power with absolutely fantastic traction giving more confidence to boot around the bends than ever. Aiding the wonderful handling of the Cayman S is the position of its engine which finds place ahead of the rear wheels. This makes the car steer with utter confidence, precision and inertia-free balance around corners.
After driving around the autobahns at speeds above 200km/h and witnessing the finesse of the Cayman S’ handling on the winding country roads, it was time for me to return back to the Porsche office in Stuttgart from where I had picked up the car. I was very surprised to see that the car had managed to cover more than 350km with a ruthlessly heavy foot flooring the pedal at every given opportunity and cruising at high speeds at all other times in just about 35 litres of fuel translating into an efficiency of around 10kmpl. The PDK does its job here as well. While you prefer to cruise, the PDK makes sure that it shifts to the seventh gear as soon as it can and takes you around at minimum engine revs.
So where does the Cayman S stand at the end of the day? It has a performance that will give any auto aficionado wet dreams. It is probably the best handling Porsche. It is a sportscar which is as efficient as some of the cheap, dull sedans roaming around the city. The Cayman might not have the practicality of four seats or the look-at-me convertible’s attitude, but then it has a character which will make you fall in love with it every time you prod the throttle. Mind you, this is just the midlife facelift of the Cayman S and it is so fantastic. The completely revamped version will make its way into the market not before 2012. But then who cares? For now, this is undoubtedly ‘the Porsche’ to buy.