There are not many words to accurately describe the noise a Porsche flat-six engine makes. In fact, the whole Porsche design and noise proposition can be likened to Metallica lead singer James Hetfield’s voice being attached to Taylor Swift’s body — looks good, sounds great.
We also struck gold being given the keys to the six-speed manual version of the 2013 Porsche Cayman S. Let’s be honest, while the dual-clutch PDK gearbox on offer from Porsche is arguably the bee’s knees when it comes to swapping cogs, there’s nothing quite like the sharp shift and slightly heavy clutch of a modern manual Porsche.
Etching more and more toward being an affordable, yet capable mini 911, others have crowned the Cayman S as the best yet from Porsche. Needless to say, we wanted to make sure all the hype was justified. To get the most out of our time with the Cayman S, we packed our bags and headed for the coast to see what the Cayman S was all about.
2013 Porsche Cayman S – THE SPECS
Engine: 3.4-litre boxer six-cylinder
Output: 239kW@7400rpm / 370Nm@4500-5800rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Drive type: Rear-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 19×8.0, 235/40 R: 19×8.0, 235/40
ANCAP: Not tested
Kerb weight: 1320kg
Power-to-weight: 5.5:1 (kg:kw)
Official fuel economy: 8.8L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 64L/98 RON
Power efficiency: 27.1kW:L/100km
0-100km/h: 5.0 seconds (official)
Priced from: $139,900
2013 Porsche Cayman S – THE PACKAGE
Practical. It’s certainly not a word you would expect to describe the Porsche Cayman, but it is indeed one of the most practical sports cars on the market. Unlike its competitors, the Cayman features a front boot, a rear boot and usable interior storage space.
The front and rear boots are big enough to fit travel bags and trinkets for two, while the interior can house the likes of phones, iPods and spare change without a skerrick of fuss.
It’s also worth noting that even after a week of driving and in excess of 1000km travelled, the driver’s seat remained the most comfortable sports car seat yet. There’s enough side and bottom bolster to keep your body in check, while the soft finish seats cup your booty and soften the blows of dodgy roads. The only thing we couldn’t get used to was the back sweat generated from engine heat soak.
In terms of interior layout, it’s simple and to the point. Porsche’s new touch-screen system is both high resolution and quick to use. Navigating the car’s functions can be done by any tech novice and could be mastered within days.
The steering wheel is also a simple affair with just a handful of buttons and selection wheels to keep you busy. The selection wheel and buttons on the right hand side of the wheel control an LCD screen that sits within the speedometer cluster. The screen can display navigation, radio, trip and car information.
With seven speakers and a host of audio connectivity options (including Bluetooth streaming), the sound system keeps you entertained in traffic or on highways when the engine is gracefully below its 4000rpm aural benchmark.
Interior fit and finish is excellent. As you would expect from a premium German manufacturer, attention has been paid to every aspect of the Cayman’s interior and exterior. Buttons are soft to the touch, while things like the electric seat adjustment controls feel bespoke and polished to remain on display.
One of the things we didn’t like was the mass of blank buttons beneath the gear selector. Our test vehicle was barebones in terms of options and it showed, with at least five blank buttons reminding you of the missed optional extras.
Dropping your keys on a cafe table will never feel better. The Porsche key is now in the shape of a car with a large Porsche emblem proudly on display.
The two-door Porsche range starts from $101,500 for the Boxster, with the six-speed manual Cayman S coming in at $139,900. An extra $4990 will get you behind the wheel of the seven-speed automatic dual-clutch PDK version of the Cayman S.
Don’t take the purchase prices at face value though. An extensive options list includes items like coloured seatbelts ($590) and ceramic composite brakes ($17,990). Luckily most necessary features are standard and optional extras are reasonably priced.
2013 Porsche Cayman S – THE DRIVE
As the engine turns over, an immediate rush of nostalgia hits as you recollect the first time you heard that unique Porsche flat-six wail. It’s rough, it’s tough and it suits the Cayman S’s character down to a tee.
The mid-mounted 3.4-litre flat-six cylinder engine produces an impressive 239kW of power and 370Nm of torque. The manual Cayman S will dash from 0-100km/h in 5.0-seconds, while the automatic does the same in 4.9-seconds. Option the Sport Chrono Package and the Cayman S will move from 0-100km/h in just 4.7-seconds, that’s seriously quick for a naturally aspirated six-cylinder car.
After setting off, it doesn’t take long to realise the clutch is fairly meaty and the gearshifts are very tight. The only time it becomes a bit frustrating is during stop-start traffic, but is easily overcome as the car begins moving with pace.
Electric steering now features on the Cayman S (not that you would know) and is testament to how far electric steering has come in the past few years. Responsive, full of feedback and genuine are the best ways to describe the engineering effort behind Porsche electric steering.
Unlike some cars with lesser effort paid to engineering, the Porsche electric steering system loads up perfectly through bends and unashamedly makes parking a breeze.
Every increment of the 7800rpm available in each gear has a unique characteristic. Power output is linear, quick and intoxicating to listen to. The throttle response is virtually immediate in any gear and ignites a surge in acceleration even in sixth gear at 100km/h.
Drop back a gear to attack corners and the Cayman S will rev match the gear below to ensure seamless shifts and optimum acceleration. This impressive technology works in unison with the tight gearbox and precise throttle response.
It takes time to become confident in the Cayman S, purely because of the grip levels and chassis ability. Even in wet conditions the driver can rely on the Cayman’s poise, chassis rigidity and weight distribution to plough through corners at great pace.
On turn in the front-end bites and begs the driver for more throttle on corner exit. Bumpy roads and uneven surfaces don’t affect the Cayman’s mid-corner poise, this also applies in the suspension’s dynamic mode, which virtually couples the car’s wheels to the body with no damping — it’s rough, but effective.
Despite missing out on the composite carbon brake package, brake pedal feel in this test vehicle remained strong and consistent after a considerably enthusiastic drive through the mountains.
The gear ratios are almost unheard of in the sense that third gear is flexible enough to cater for slow, medium and fast paced corners. Helping the Cayman S achieve such impressive power delivery and cornering is its 1320kg kerb weight. It’s hundreds of kilograms lighter than its competitors and really shows when agility and prowess are put to the test.
A Sport mode sharpens throttle response and gives the exhaust an extra-meaty throb. That said, the noise from inside the cabin is just as intoxicating. Unique sounds fill the cabin throughout the rev range and leave you wanting to turn around and wring every last drop out of the drivetrain.
Fuel economy isn’t too bad, with the six-speed manual averaging 8.8L/100km. That figure drops to 8.0L/100km for the dual-clutch seven-speed automatic version. Fuel efficiency is maximised by the use of engine stop/start (which can be switched off if it gets irritating).
2013 Porsche Cayman S – THE VIDEO
2013 Porsche Cayman S – THE VERDICT
There’s no two ways about it, the Porsche Cayman S is a truly sensational sports car. It’s not stupendously quick in a straight line, nor unruly and hard to live with, it’s the ultimate sports car with purpose.
If it were a toss-up between the six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, we would fork out the extra money for the technically perfect PDK. Add the Sports Chrono Package, 20-inch Carrera Classic wheels and Burmester high-end sound system and you’ve reached automotive porn status.
The Cayman S will go down in history as one of the best sports cars ever produced by Porsche; the hardest part will be justifying it to the other half.
– Engine sound
– Tight six-speed manual, good ratios
– Handling and agility
– Comfortable and supportive sports seats
– Extensive options list, blank buttons without the options
2013 Porsche Cayman S – THE COMPETITORS
BMW M3 Pure
4.0-litre V8 – 309kW-400Nm – 12.4L/100km – 1580kg – from $125,000
Lotus Evora S
3.5-litre supercharged V6 – 257.5kW-400Nm – 9.1L/100km – 1437kg – from $145,990
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