“You’ve got the best Porsche of them all!” exclaimed an ecstatic Porsche fanatic, gesticulating wildly in front of our windshield while we were stuck in a one-car traffic jam behind a tour bus at the Porsche Parade.
We couldn’t help but smile and agree with him. After all, he was right. We did have the best Porsche ever—a 2014 Cayman S ($63,800) finished in GT Silver Metallic ($2,580) with Carrera Red Natural Leather interior ($3,895) and a Burmester High-End Surround Sound System ($6,730).
All of a sudden, traces of aggravation melted into smiles. Who cares about that tour bus? What’s the rush? Why should we be eager to vacate our Adaptive 18-way Sports Seats ($3,465) when we could spend the rest of our lives ensconced in them? After all, there’s plenty to do while waiting—like turn up the seat ventilation ($730) to full blast while cranking the seat heater to full hot (Premium Package $1,170).
The latest iteration of the Cayman really is the best Porsche I’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 PDK Cayman S at 4.4 seconds for the 0-60 mph run. Car & Driver bettered that when they tested the 2014 Cayman S and recorded 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and 12.6 seconds at 112 mph for the standing start quarter mile. You can be dawdling along at 60 mph in 7th gear when you suddenly feel the need for speed. Flap the left PDK paddle toward you three or four times and this Porsche will jump faster than a cheetah ambushing a springbok.
At first I was disappointed to discover that this otherwise magnificent Porsche was saddled with an automatic gear change system. It’s a habitual view acquired during the Sportomatic days and reinforced by years of experience with feckless Tiptronic Porsches.
Adding to my consternation was the need to pay $3,200 extra for something I expressly disliked.
By the end of the week, I was singing an altogether different tune. PDK really is a terrific advance in gear change technology, one that I could happily abide in my 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. I hereby surrender my lifetime stick shift membership card.
When the Cayman S first arrived in our driveway, I looked it over and thought, ‘How are we ever going to pack enough stuff for a week at Parade in this tiny bin?’ 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. Since my wife and I always use Rimowa Trolleys, we were well set to maximize storage space in the Cayman. Note that Rimowa also builds Porsche’s signature line of PTS Ultralight cabin baggage.
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, and perfectly sized to store cameras or the 1:43 scale model of the 919 I acquired at Parade.
JD Power and Associates recently announced that Porsche “easily led its 2014 Initial Quality Study” according to USA Today. 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 Savile 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 I might, I 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, okay, 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 $2,370 optional Sport Chrono Package, your Cayman’s on board computer can be configured to display 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?