As technology intrudes further and further into the driving experience offered by almost every class of automobile, and as vehicle weights continue their inexorable climb, it has become difficult to find a car that can provide a pure, direct connection to the road. The 2014 Porsche Cayman and, particularly, the Porsche Cayman S, demonstrate that all hope is not lost for performance fans who want to communicate not just with their own adrenal glands, but also every inch of the asphalt as it travels underneath their wheels.
The 2014 Porsche Cayman and Porsche Cayman S – redesigned for the current model year – have evolved into almost the perfect sports car pairing for drivers seeking the ultimate in balance and poise at speeds that would get you arrested outside of a racing circuit. I had the chance to sample each of these cars at the Porsche World Roadshow, held at the Mosport circuit in Ontario, Canada (now more formally known as Canadian Tire Motorsports Park), and I came away suitably impressed with their finely-honed on-track capabilities.
The first thing that stands out about the 2014 Porsche Cayman, which is the gateway drug to the brand’s performance coupe line-up, is the incredible responsiveness of its chassis. Over 60 lbs lighter than the previous model and checking in at less than 3,000 lbs in total, the stiffer Cayman furthers its dynamic dominance over more luxury-tuned rivals. Powered by a 2.7-litre horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine mounted amidships, the Cayman’s willingness to enter a turn without drama following extremely heavy braking, combined with the equilibrium on display as it claws its way out through corner exit, has no real peer at its price point of $53,550.
275 horsepower and 213 lb-ft of torque in such a light platform (10 more ponies than the year before) make for extremely spirited acceleration in the base Cayman, but a word of warning: do not drive the vehicle back-to-back with its Cayman S sibling on a road course, or you will suddenly develop the very acute urge to spend the additional $10,000 on the 325 horses and 272 lb-ft of twist offered by its 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine. The acceleration from a dig, and top-end performance of the Cayman S is simply phenomenal, and matched with its sheer inability to get out of shape when herded through twisty stretches of pavement at over 100 miles per hour I found it to be more impressive than any other Porsche model I drove during my day at the Roadshow.
Contributing to the fun were the Sport Plus setting for the suspension and vehicle dynamics systems, Porsche Active Suspension Management, and Porsche’s lightning-quick PDK dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission. I would have preferred the additional engagement of a true manual box (a six-speed unit is available), but the PDK tranny proved unflappable no matter how hard I flogged the car, and even the Cayman's new electric power steering system outshined similar efforts from German competitors.
And there you have it: it seems that the only performance coupe out there that can make the Porsche Cayman feel underwhelming is the even-more-excellent 2014 Porsche Cayman S. In fact, for true sports car purists the Cayman S represents a serious argument for bypassing the much pricier base Porsche 911 Carrera and instead enjoying a vehicle that is more fun to drive and considerably less stern when responding to pilot error.