Ahh, the Porsche Boxster coupe.
Yes, it's been a long time coming but I think Porsche would rather you didn't mention the B word if you don't mind - just in case people start questioning why the Cayman S costs £4k more than a Boxster S.
What? I thought coupes were supposed to be cheaper than convertibles, what with having no expensive electric hood to include.
They usually are, but in Porsche's defence there's slightly more to the Cayman than simply the addition of a tin top. The rear track is wider, the kerb weight down by 5kg and the engine offers 3.4-litres and 291bhp, up 200cc and 23bhp compared with the Boxster S's. Or at least that was the case when we first drove the car. Since then, Porsche has made the 291bhp 3.4 standard in the Boxster S too and given no satisfactory justification for the Cayman S's £4230 premium.
That's a lot of money for a dose of extra chassis stiffness
But that extra stiffness is immediately apparent. It sweetens the steering and the ability to switch direction and really ramps up the body control. Absolute performance isn't of the oh-my-God variety - a peak of 291bhp is nothing special these days - but there's enough to satisfy all but the most power-crazed and the slick gearchange and a throttle response that could draw blood prove there's more to a good drivetrain than sheer grunt.
But is it as good as a 911?
This is where you'd expect us to ramble on about how special the 911 is and the fact that the Cayman doesn't quite cut it. But in fact it's every bit as good as a 911, although the two have quite different characteristics. The Cayman feels edgier, even more poised and flatters the driver more but is more likely to swap ends. Our only real gripe is that the chassis could clearly handle far more power, but Porsche can't supply it without treading on the 911's toes. But we're sure that more than a few prospective 911 buyers will be swayed by the £15K saving over a Carrera, a car that actually takes 4sec longer to lap the Nurburgring.
Sounds like a bit of a bargain when you put it like that
Snobs might sneer at the Cayman for its Boxster origins but this is a serious sports car and a dangerously tempting alternative to a 911. You can even specify 911 options like Porsche's excellent PCCB ceramic brakes.
Unfortunately it's still too pricey for my pocket, I'm afraid
There's always the new non-S model. Sharing the Boxster's 2.7-litre flat six, now fitted with Variocam Plus valve timing, it delivers 247bhp to the rear wheels through a five-speed gearbox and sprints to 62mph in 6.1sec. Like the Cayman S though, it's also a rip-off at £36,220, or £3050 more than the 2.7 Boxster.
A brilliant car let down by a ludicrous price. That said, think long and hard before spending the extra £15K needed to secure a 911.