When we recently announced the launch of the new Porsche Cayman on our Facebook page somebody asked if this was the new Boxster Coupé. Sometimes the obvious can be blinding but the chap had hit the nail on the head without any of us noticing.
The Cayman is most certainly the Boxster Coupé but that does not lessen the importance of this car in the latest Porsche line-up. In fact this is not only going to be one of their most successful cars ever it is likely to secure the company’s long term financial future.
Consider this – Porsche have a dilemma with the 911 these days. It has become an expensive sports car lately. Go to the Porsche on-line configurator and see how easy it is to spend more than £100k once you start adding some basic options to your entry-level Carrera.
Not many people would argue that the 911 is one of the motoring world’s true icons. The word ‘icon’ is much banded around these days to describe the most mundane of cars that will soon be forgotten but the 911 has been around for a long time now and is much loved or at least respected by almost everybody that likes cars.
Yes the 911 has never been a cheap sports car since its inception but as the world in general became a little more affluent over the years the Porker inevitably became a very popular choice for those who wanted to splash out on a flash car for once in their lives. And a good choice it was too. Superb build quality and reliability came with the package and it was for a long time the only ‘super car’ you could run as a daily commute. How things have changed.
Today there are a lot of cars that offer the same levels of performance as a 911 (forget the Turbo for now) for far less money. They are even built just as well too. One of them just happens to be produced by Porsche itself and it is called the Cayman.
When Porsche first introduced the Cayman to the world in 2006 it was immediately labeled as the ‘poor man’s 911′ because driving anything other than a 911 singled you out as a wannabe Porsche owner. This is something that has afflicted Porsche over the years. If the company had been dependent on the success of the 924, 944 and the 928 it would have died many years ago. The 911 brought home the bacon and essentially that one model was Porsche the company.
So the Cayman, just like the Boxster was seen as a very capable car but only created to fill a gap in the market that Porsche thought it needed to fill. Porsche are like a lot of car manufacturers these days and the pressure to cover every market segment from school-run SUV’s to high-performance super-saloons is considerable. It is a dangerous strategy because a company needs very deep pockets to cover the development costs and it needs to get the product just right. This is why Porsche has a back-door relationship with VW/Audi.
Six years later however and the Cayman is coming into its own. The car has always been a threat to the success of the 911 from the start but Porsche were careful to make sure that the Cayman did not step on its big brother’s toes by keeping power outputs a smidgen lower. The trouble is though Porsche could not make a poor-handling car if it wanted too and the Cayman has always been a class-leader. Only Lotus comes close in offering such sublime grip and poise around a track. It was even whispered that the Cayman was a better all-round proposition that the 911. It was also a lot less money – in fact today it is an absolute bargain.
Recessions tend to focus the mind when it comes to parting with our hard-earned cash. Consumers still want their toys but they don’t want to pay a lot of money for them anymore and it likely to stay like this for some time to come. The 911 is still a highly desirable car even though purists might say it has lost a bit of its personality which has been diluted by excessive use of electronic aids and modern technology. The ‘drive-by-wire’ steering system is much debated in the press and often criticised for detaching the driver’s senses from the car. However it is a subjective topic and it won’t put a lot of people from buying the car once they have driven it. It is just the price tag that makes us grimace.
The Cayman starts at £39694 and the S version starts at £48783 and you even get a complimentary driving course at Silverstone to show you how good the car is. The car is stiffer and lighter than the previous model and still comes with the superb flat-six ‘boxer’ engine in 2.7 or 3.4 litre sizes offering 275 and 325hp respectively. Performance is more than adequate offering a 0-62 mph time of 5.4 seconds with the Sport Chrono option in the 2.7 version and the 3.4 S scorches to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds. Top speed is academic these days but suffice to say you would not be far behind a £100k 911 Carrera.
The point is that in a time when buyers are looking for value for money the Cayman is a rising star. It is no longer the ‘poor man’s 911′. It is in fact the best Porsche you can buy today and you would not be embarrassed to own one. More importantly for Porsche it is their bread-winner for the future.
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