CAR's just driven the new Porsche Cayman R, the third addition to Porsche’s mid-engined coupe range to sit above the Cayman and Cayman S. There’s a whole host of weight-saving measures (some welcome, some not), more power, and a serious set of chassis tweaks. It should be the best Porsche Cayman yet – read on for CAR’s first drive review.
What does the Porsche Cayman R have that the Porsche Cayman S doesn’t?
Aluminium doors (pinched from the GT3) for a start, which trim 15kg from the Cayman R’s kerbweight, along with lightweight 19in alloys from the Boxster Spyder that save another 5kg. Bucket seats save another 12kg, as does the lack of air-con. There’s no radio either, and a smaller 54-litre fuel tank pilfers the pounds.
Other additions to spice up the new 2011 Porsche Cayman R include a new front bumper and fixed rear spoiler, and together with black wing mirrors, black headlamp surrounds and ‘Porsche’ decals, it’s a cohesive little package that makes the R looks much more aggressive than the S – that's a £3545 option on the S.
There’s 20mm lower suspension, itself tweaked to take the weight reductions into account, and there’s a proper locking rear diff. Unfortunately you also lose the slick cupholders that slide out of the dash and the dashboard is low-rent plastic rather than leather-covered. Such are the sacrifices you make in the name of performance chez Porsche.
Any other changes to the new Cayman R?
Some tweaks are less intense, but still welcome: the direct-injection 3.4-litre flat six is now in Boxster Spyder-spec, with power increased by 10bhp at 200rpm higher. Our car had the optional (£2141) twin-clutch, seven-speed PDK gearbox, but whether you opt for it or the six-cog manual, the 0-62mph time drops by two tenths, to 4.9sec for the self-shifter and 5.0sec for the enthusiasts’ favourite.
The top speed for either ‘box is up a few inconsequential mph, but the weight reduction means both versions of the Cayman R are a little cleaner and greener than the Cayman S that sits below: thirst and emissions tumble from 28.8mpg and 230g/km to 29.1mpg and 228g/km for the manual; the PDK-specced one drops from 30.1mpg and 221g/km for the Cayman S to 30.4 and 218 for the Cayman R PDK.
What's the Cayman R like to drive?
Brilliant. The R's steering is beautifully weighted and detailed, it’s more exploitable and friendly than a 911, and with our car’s £1465 sports exhaust there’s a proper hair-erecting howl. The seats are great, offering excellent support with out the back-breaking hardness of Porsche’s most extreme buckets.
Our car had pretty much every option on it, including the PDK ‘box and ceramic brakes (a whopping £5463). There’s never been much wrong with regular Porsche stoppers, but the PCCBs are relentlessly strong, have great feel, and will stand you in good stead if you intend to take your R on a few track days. You might prefer the Cayman's precise manual transmission, but the double-clutch PDK unit is slick when you’re cruising around, and the optional Sport Chrono Pack has buttons to sharpen the throttle response and turn the PDK gearbox into a super-sharp unit when you’re on it. It’s got a proper set of paddles, too (at last - none of us got on with the rubbish push buttons!).
The Cayman R is an excellent sports car: fast, fun, and all the changes make it a little sharper and more incisive than the regular Cayman S, already a favourite around these parts. Our ideal spec? The bigger 64-litre fuel tank is a no-cost option we’d definitely have, air-con is a £1040 necessity, and many buyers will pick sat-nav. Then you’ve got a Cayman that’s faster and more focussed than the Cayman S and edging ever closer to that entry level 911 Carrera.
A word of warning though: try in the UK before you buy, as the fixed-rate suspension might be too firm for the roads in Blighty. Other than that, the Cayman R is a brilliant example of Porsche doing what it does best.
>> For the full story on the Porsche Cayman R, see the April 2011 issue of CAR Magazine, out on 16 March