The Porsche Cayman is a perfect example of a good car that gets an unfair characterization, both from enthusiasts and the motoring press. You’ve probably heard someone say that it’s a car that's been compromised from the very beginning – that it’s not allowed to be better than a 911, otherwise there’s no point in buying a 911. So instead you get a car that feels like it’s being held back. Others say that it’s just a car people buy when they can’t afford a 911.
I can relate – to a certain degree – to people who think that it’s a car that has been compromised for the well-being of the 911. However, I completely disagree with those who say it’s a poor man’s Porsche. Firstly, if you can’t afford a new 911, buy a used one. Most 911s that have come out in the past 20 years or so have been praised by many journos for being such involving machines. So a 1999 996 Carrera, for example, should still give you that classical 911 experience. In fact, it’s only with the current 911 that journalists are complaining about it losing some of its magic (unless you count the time Porsche switched to water cooling). Why? Electric power steering. Apparently, this ‘modern-day demon’ has polluted that classical 911 steering feel.
Steering feel is one thing that is heavily scrutinized whenever a new Porsche comes out, and from the information that’s out there, the Cayman hits the spot just right. Not only does it have good steering, the overall handling balance is good too, providing the driver with confidence that’s more than a match to 911s. But such well-sorted handling only put a spotlight at the fact that it could handle more power, and could use a limited slip differential – this is where, maybe, compromise is felt.
All in all, though, the Cayman is one of the finest sports cars. And after an update in 2009, the Cayman models had slightly more power, an optional seven-speed double-clutch gearbox, and an optional limited-slip differential. It’s hard to believe that the Cayman has already been in the market for seven years, and that can only mean one thing – cheap (-ish) second hand buys.
Concentrating on Caymans made from 2005 to 2009, you could have either a 2.7-litre flat-six engine in the base version – producing 245hp and 201lb ft (273 Nm) of torque – while the Cayman S came with a 3.4-litre engine producing 295hp and 251lb ft (340 Nm) of torque. The base Cayman came with a five-speed manual gearbox, while a Cayman S was equipped with a six-speed – an optional five-speed tiptronic gearbox was available for both cars. The base Cayman weighs 1,300kg, while the Cayman S weighs 1,340kg.
Looking through the various used car markets show that Caymans hold on reasonably well to their values for their age. Despite holding on well to their values, a lot of good examples are quite affordable for us mere mortals. In the euro zone, both the base Cayman and Cayman S can be had for around €22,000 for cars with less than 100,000km. In the United Kingdom, Caymans with under 60,000 miles can be had for as little as £16,000! However, Caymans in the USA seem to hold on more to their value – cars with under 60,000 miles start at just under the $30,000 mark.
The Porsche Cayman has a five-star rating from WhatCar? magazine, meaning that it has that bulletproof reliability sports cars should have, and reasonable running costs – for a Porsche. Combine reasonable used car prices, fine handling and good reliability, the Cayman should be considered as one of the greatest sports car of recent times. Saying it’s nothing more than a poor man’s 911 is seriously missing the point.
By Alex Kisiri