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Shopping For A Used Porsche? 2014 Porsche Cayman S Drive and Review


By Rob Eckaus
Senior Editor
South Bay Bureau
The Auto Channel

The new Cayman S is the best sports car under $100,000. The redesign has elevated it to premier sports car status. It’s larger, weighs roughly the same as before, the new styling looks great and it has the Porsche dual-clutch transmission along with a detuned 325 horsepower boxer-6 engine.

The same engine makes 25 more horsepower in the 911. One has to wonder if the difference is from software tuning rather than actual physical differences. It isn’t crazy fast, it isn’t wow fast, but it is fun fast. Car and Driver just tested one to 60mph at 4.1 seconds and a 12.6 second quarter mile at 112mph. This is an entirely different car than what I reviewed in 2009.

But it isn’t about bragging rights unless you want to compare lap times to horsepower ratios. What it is about is a pure driving experience. The steering is perfect in weight, response and felt good during a limited test drive. The ride is firm but not harsh and suitable for any type of road. Of course, the more curves the better. It’s actually quieter inside than a 997.1 twin turbo. In fact, the owner of the 911TT I reviewed traded it in for the Cayman S, stating it’s the most fun Porsche he’s ever driven.

The 7speed dual-clutch transmission (Porsche PDK) induces giggles in several ways. First in automatic mode the downshifts are immediate and accompanied by a loud and laughter-inducing bark. The upshifts are flawless and fast. In Sport-plus mode, the downshifts occur automatically and it won’t shift higher than 6th. It is so fun, and works so well, you want to use it all the time like superb mechanical toy.

There is controversy about dual-clutch transmissions. Especially now that they are replacing manuals, for example the new Porsche GT3 only comes with a PDK. A manual may be more involving, but the problem is commitment, obligation and ratios. You commit yourself to shifting, always, with no exceptions. You obligate yourself to shift as long as you own the car. And finally, not every curve or turn on the street or track is ideal for the gear ratios. A mid-turn shift may be called for and the PDK allows for a seamless shift no matter what the circumstance. Do you want to shift, or do you want to win? And play with a toy!

Interior design is typical new Porsche modern, with informative readouts, sub-screens and exemplary fit and finish. Instead of a small cubicle where a phone would protrude, the owner filled it in and crafted a customized mounting area with an integrated charger. It now lays flat, charges and doesn't interfere with the drivers arm when resting on the armrest.

The major options on this tested model is the PDK transmission, 20” Carrera S wheels, Sport Chrono Package, 14 way Power Sport Seats with the Premium Package and the Infotainment Package with BOSE Surround Sound. With a few other options the sticker price was $81,125. Interestingly, the owners favorite features mirrors the option list. The PDK with the paddle shifters, the seamless integration of the hands free phone and communication system and the 40gig music jukebox along with the driver selectable engine and transmission modes mentioned earlier. Also enjoyed is the easy access to either trunk; as in front and rear.

The least favorite feature is the Auto Start Stop Feature which has a little bit of shake and noise at start-up, stating it gets annoying with two quick stops in a short distance such as stop-n-go driving. The previously reviewed Cayenne Hybrid is much smoother because the electric motor starts the vehicle from a stop.

Innovative packaging is necessary with the mid-engine layout. A very usable rear hatch area is enabled by the low mounted boxer engine. The oil and coolant fill ports have caps in the back that are pictured in the slideshow. Very few , if any 12 second quarter mile cars are efficient enough to be rated at 30 mpg highway, and this one happens to be a balanced with a mid-engine layout, high tech features, light in weight and luxurious. Taking all these variables into account, this may be the best all-around sports car on the market.