We titled the preview to this review “Who cares about the name” and subsequently had questions thrown at us asking what we were on about. So here is the explanation. In 1967 Porsche launched what can only be described as the ultimate lightweight incarnation of the venerable 911. Super skinny, stripped out, limited production road racer for that was in turn used very effectively on the track.
So there is our gripe… and it’s the only gripe we had with this car. The Cayman R, although a wondrous weapon, isn’t an ultra-lightweight, limited production road racer. It is however, a slightly lighter, feel some and on paper, a faster Cayman S. The S is a fantastic piece of kit so there is a good chance we are onto a winner here.
So back to the facts. The Cayman R starts off life just over 55kg lighter than the previous range topper – the S. With the help of some very sexy 19-inch wheels, liberated from the Boxster Spyder (still need to get our hands on one)…
…some very horny carbon backed bucket seats, ali doors (nearly RS…shhh we can’t say that!) and 15kg care of the removal of the stereo and the air-con. Which as you can imagine has been thrown back into the spec of this car… meaning the weight saving is actually nearer 40kgs. Loosing the A/C in this town would be a very silly thing to do.
Although only a very small amount of gee gee’s have been added to the motor – 9bhp to be precise – the 3.4-litre six-cylinder engine is a wonderful piece of kit. The extra power comes care of a new exhaust manifold and a tweak to the ECU. Maximum power is now rated at 325bhp at 7400rpm and rather bizarrely the car feels like it is matched to this output just about perfectly. Although it’s clear the chassis could take a lot more grunt, it really does feel beautifully matched.
It’s all about stance for us and thankfully the Cayman R delivers. The PASM active suspension system has not been bolted up to the little green monster and it sits a subtle, yet perfect, 20mm lower than the Cayman S. Matched with those 19″ rims the all important tyre to body ratio is almost spot on.
The only bit of the car that I didn’t really take much of a liking too was the fixed rear spoiler, which although reduces lift over the rear axle by 40% looks a bit gawky. The lower front bumper features a revised front splitter , and then there is the ultimate performance enhancer. The uber retro and super sexy PORSCHE lettering that adorns the side of the Cayman. Love it or hate it certainly adds a nifty look and feel to the car. And judging by the amount of manufacturers out there copying the idea it is clearly liked by some people… me included.
We spent a couple of days blatting the R around town and although the changes over the Cayman S are very subtle, first impressions are that the R rides beautifully. The R’s handing balance is typically Cayman – i.e. superb and if tempted, very happy living sideways. The tweaks to the suspension and anti-roll bars really do add to the experience and although we really struggled to feel any speed variance over the S, the sum of all parts made a very clear difference.
It really is a wonderful thing to rip and any cynicism that you may have about the, marketing, positioning, naming and/or price gets well and truly slung out of the window when you get behind the wheel.
Sounds typically Porsche then doesn’t it… from the outside it smells like a ploy but boy oh boy are the products superb when you actually live with them.
So… in conclusion. If you have a pocket of cash burning a hole somewhere, that is urging to be spent on a two-seater coupe, I would urge you to buy one. It is one of those cars that so successfully delivers on every level. Mind you, we are being picky here. It should have been called the Club-Sport!
Finally – It is worth noting that although these shots were taken at the Dubai Autodrome (whom were exceedingly helpful), we were on-track purely for photography purposes. Tyre squealing runs were replaced with me hanging out of the back of the Publisher’s Range Rover taking snaps. At 30kph. Oh well!