The latest iteration of the Porsche Cayman S really is the best Porsche we've ever had the pleasure to drive. It's intoxicatingly fast, which is the essential attribute in the $100,000 league. Porsche factory figures peg the Cayman S with PDK automatic gearbox at 4.4 seconds for the 0-60mph run. Car and Driver bettered that when they tested the 2014 Cayman S and recorded 0-60mph in 4.1 seconds, and 12.6 seconds at 112mph for the standing start quarter mile. You can be dawdling along at 60mph in 7th gear when you suddenly feel the need for speed. Flap the left PDK paddle toward you 3 or 4 times and this Porsche will jump faster than a cheetah ambushes a springbok.
Any Porsche is the sum of its options. Start with a base 2014 Cayman S ($63,800), add GT Silver Metallic paint ($2,580), Carrera Red Natural Leather interior (3,895) and a Burmester High-end Surround Sound System ($6,730) and you have the makings of a truly brilliant sports car. Adaptive 18-way Sports Seats ($3,465) insure comfort and support will never wane. Three stage seat ventilation ($730) evaporates stickiness on long trips while seat heaters are invaluable on cold mornings (Premium Package $1,170).
At first we were disappointed to discover that this otherwise magnificent Porsche was saddled with an automatic gear change system called PDK. It's a habitual view acquired during Porsche's Sportomatic period and reinforced by years of experience with feckless Tiptronic Porsches. Adding to our consternation was the need to pay $3,200 extra for something we expressly disliked.
By the end of the week, we were singing an altogether different tune. PDK really is a terrific advance in gear change technology, one that we could happily abide in our own garage. There is simply no downside to this system. It never does anything without being told to do so by you. Automatic shifts? Never a problem. Full manual control? No problem there either. We hereby surrender my lifetime stick shift membership card .
When the Cayman S first arrived in our driveway, we looked it over and thought, 'How are we ever going to pack enough stuff for a week-long trip in this tiny car?' At first glance, the front and rear trunks look more like toe lockers than foot lockers. However, it soon became apparent that the deep front storage well is designed specifically to accommodate two airline Cabin Trolleys laid on their side. The Cayman's interior is also full of surprising crannies and nooks for additional storage, like the pair of lockers located behind and above the seats. Each bin is equipped with a sliding serrated cover to discourage prying eyes.
Last week, JD Power and Associates announced that Porsche "easily led its 2014 Initial Quality Study" according to USAToday. With 5,000 miles on its odometer, our Cayman S could have been the poster child for Power's IQS. In our 10 days with the car, we found nothing amiss, either cosmetically or functionally. Tailoring of the natural leather interior is particularly judicious. The perforated leather seating surfaces fit better than a Saville Row suit. Visitors from another planet would never guess this is supposed to be Porsche's entry level sports car.
A bevy of worthy options help elevate Cayman driving to an art form. In particular, the complex Adaptive Cruise Control ($2,170) allows freedom from the drudgery of stop and go interstate driving. Set your car length limit and the ACC will insure you never get closer to the car in front than you specify. ACC also includes Porsche Active Safety, which will actually stop your Cayman in the event you don't. It will then resume forward travel with a tap of the cruise control lever. Our test car's specification sheet also included Porsche Torque Vectoring ($1,320) which electronically mimics a rear axle limited slip differential. This in turn optimizes steering precision. In fact, try as hard as we might, we could never get the rear end to unload or lose traction, even through a heavily banked, 180 degree freeway onramp. The aggressive Pirelli P Zero tires (235/35ZR20 f., 265/35ZR20 r.) mounted on optional ($1,560) 20 inch Carrera S wheels played a major role in the Cayman's sublime stability.
Surely there must be something to carp about here? Well, OK, Porsche could do better with the cupholders, which spring forth from the dash like something out of Popeil's Pocket Fisherman. For starters they're too short to hold a water bottle or a Starbuck's Venti cup. When you order the optional $2,370 Sport Chrono Package, your Cayman's on board computer can be configured to read instantaneous "G Forces" on the right hand instrument face. But this is really a duplication of assets. Because all you need do is check your cupholders. At just over 0.2g's your skim milk latte will puke its contents out of the cup's sipping hole. At 0.5g's, the cupholder will pitch the whole thing into your lap. With those irrefutable indices available, who needs a g force meter?
2014 PORSCHE CAYMAN S
ENGINE: 3.4 liter opposed 6 cylinder with Direct Fuel Injection and VarioCam plus
TORQUE: 273 lb.-ft.@4500-5800rpm
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 21 MPG City/30 MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $97,890
HYPES: Beautiful to behold, Thrilling to drive
GRIPES: Everything Good Costs Extra
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10