What's the used Porsche Cayman coupe like?
Most people in the market for a good value sports car will naturally think of the Mazda MX-5, and the latest version can be found for £25,000 without too much haggling. However, that same money on the second-hand market could buy you something a bit more serious and from one of the most desirable sporting marques: Porsche. That's right, an early 981 Cayman can be yours for the price of a Mazda, and, according to aficionados, the 981 Cayman is even better than the 718 Cayman that replaced it, making for an even more compelling purchase.
Depending on which version you're looking at, ahead of the rear axle you'll find a 271bhp 2.7-litre flat-six petrol engine or an enlarged 3.4-litre one with either 321bhp (Cayman S) or 335bhp (Cayman GTS). The track-focused GT4 got and even bigger still 3.8-litre engine delivering 380bhp. A six-speed manual gearbox was standard, with a seven-speed PDK automatic 'box a popular option.
Porsche cars tend to be quite sparsely equipped as standard and this Cayman is no exception. The standard car has 18in alloys, air-con, a 7.0in touchscreen, automatic headlights and a CD player, while the Cayman S has bigger 19in alloys, bi-xenon headlights and a part-leather interior. If you want any more luxuries than that, you better hope the first owner was generous with the options list because almost everything was an option – even simple things like a Bluetooth connection for your phone.
On the road, the six-cylinder engine is the reason why people prefer this generation Cayman; the four cylinder engine that came afterwards sacrificed the characteristic Porsche sound that many lusted after, yet it never delivered the promised economy gains. Even the 'entry-level' 2.7 six-cylinder can rocket the Cayman from 0-60mph in 5.7sec and romp onto 165mph, whereas the 3.4 engine will see it off in 4.7sec and go on to reach 174mph - traffic laws permitting. In most situations, the S variant naturally feels quicker, but the sheer character of that lovely smooth and biddable engine and the joy of piloting this machine will leave very few disappointed if they chose the standard model.
For true speed freaks, Porsche introduced a GTS version using the same engine as the S model but with a bit more power and a few suspension weeks to make it the one that enthusiasts will want. For regular track-day drivers, there is also a GT4 version that's capable of seeing off the 0-62mph sprint in just 4.4sec.
The Cayman's handling is a true delight. It feels nimble, stable, secure, fast and fun. Some purists disliked the change to electric power steering on this version, but nevertheless few cars steer with such alacrity, even if some elements of communication are slightly muted. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) was an option when new and is well worth finding an example with it fitted; it lets the driver choose between normal and sporty settings, further enhancing this car’s wicked potential.
The interior is of modest dimensions, and its suitably sporty, classy fittings remind you that you’re in a Porsche. Right in front of you is a central, oversized rev counter that lives behind a familiar and very tactile steering wheel. There are also plenty of buttons on the centre console – lots of them, in fact. Those coming from an Audi or a BMW might be daunted by the number of buttons and yearn for a rotary controller to bring all the functionality together, but, with familiarity, things become a lot easier.
Surprisingly for a sports car, you get two boots. There’s a 150-litre luggage space up front and a further 275 litres in the rear – enough for a light trip to the shops or a week’s holiday luggage for two.
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