More than a few automotive scribes have suggested that the 2006 Porsche Cayman S is the perfect alternative to the expensive 911 Carrera and the Boxster convertible because the 295-horsepower Cayman S offers the character of the 911 and the relative affordability of the Boxster.
In this case, affordability equals $58,900. That’s about $15,000 more than a 400-horsepower Chevy Corvette that sells for $43,710. There’s also the 333-horsepower BMW M3 that’ll run ya $47,300. Maybe you’d rather have a Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG for $60,500. And don’t forget about the toys from Nissan – a 350Z Track model offers 300 horsepower for $34,600, and a 298-horsepower Infiniti G35 coupe with a six-speed manual transmission sells for $33,350.
“Yeah, but it’s a Porsche.” That mentality, at home in the mind of one of our editors and echoed by legions of Porsche fans, will surely help make the 2006 Cayman S a success.
As will those 295 horsepower, which are on tap at 6,250 rpm and spun out of a midship-mounted 3.4-liter six-cylinder boxer engine. This all-aluminum powerplant is located directly behind the seats, and twists out 250 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm. Power is managed by a standard six-speed manual transmission; a five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted controls is optional. No need to worry about sluggish shifts from this available tranny – gear changes take a mere 0.2 seconds.
So, it goes fast in a straight line. Yet, to be worthy of the Porsche badge, the 2006 Cayman S must also be capable in the corners. To address that need, engineers fitted the Cayman S with a MacPherson strut and wishbone suspension front and rear, which is backed up by powerful brake components. The standard setup includes four-piston aluminum calipers on all corners. For even better stopping power, buyers can opt for the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) package that fits yellow, six-piston calipers up front and adds unique brake pads all around. The result is a braking system that is less susceptible to fade and weighs much less than a traditional system.
Aiding in the handling department is a standard Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system. PSM tracks driving speed, yaw rate and lateral acceleration. If the 2006 Porsche Cayman S starts to get a little loose, PSM will apply brake pressure as needed to individual wheels to bring everything back in line. The system has supposedly been designed to allow for enthusiast driving, suggesting that PSM waits as long as safely possible before interfering.
Optional goodies include the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system, which lowers the 2006 Porsche Cayman S body by 10-mm and includes normal and sport modes. There’s also the Sport Chrono Package, complete with a stopwatch mounted on the instrument panel and sport button on the center console that provides quicker power delivery. With a promise of quicker response, chances are the Chrono package will find its way into a number of Caymans.
The family resemblance is more than skin deep. Like most Porsche models, the 2006 Cayman S is designed for transporting a driver and one passenger. However, like the Porsche Cayenne SUV, the Cayman S adds some utility into the mix, too. Under the hood is a small cubby that offers 5.3 cubic feet of cargo room, and under the rear hatch is room for whatever squeezes into 9.2 cubic feet of storage space. That’s a total of 14.5 cubic feet – five cubic feet more than the BMW 3 Series 330Ci, 5.4 cubic feet more than the Boxster, and 6.7 cubic feet more than the Infiniti G35 coupe.
Inside the cockpit, drivers will enjoy the tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and the power seats with memory. More restrictive but supportive sport seats are optional. There are the usual dual front airbags, but there’s also the Porsche Side Impact Protection System (POSIP) that features side airbags and head and thorax airbags. Tunes come from a standard audio system with a CD player, but can be upgraded with either the Porsche Sound System Plus or a ten-speaker Bose Surround Sound System with a subwoofer.
For driving enthusiasts, it’s a great time to be alive – 500-horsepower Mercedes-Benzes, 400-horsepower Corvettes, and now, a Porsche that straddles the difference between the Boxster and the 911. The cost of admission for the 2006 Porsche Cayman S may be higher than some of its worthy competitors, but those extra greenbacks buy a sophisticated powertrain, decent cargo space, and a boatload of airbags.
And, come on, it’s a Porsche.
Photos courtesy of Porsche