2014 Porsche Cayman Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
January 31, 2014

The 2014 Porsche Cayman adds power, lightness, and comfort improving on the strengths of the last generation while fixing the weaknesses.

The Porsche Cayman presents an interesting quandary: opt for the iconic but increasingly luxurious and high-tech 911, or save a little cash and get most of the same fun in a smaller, more traditional sports car package?

Like its soft-top sibling, the Boxster, Porsche's Cayman is mid-engined, providing innate balance and maneuverability--as well as compact, svelte good looks. Smooth, flowing curves sweep up from the low nose over the fenders and into the teardrop roof profile. Muscular haunches rise at the rear, wrapping around the simple, tidy tail. Inside, the Cayman is all modern Porsche, with clean lines and smooth surfaces broken only by a plethora of buttons.

Two engines are available in the 2014 Cayman, to match the two primary trim lines. The base Cayman gets a 2.7-liter flat six-cylinder rated at 275 horsepower; the Cayman S gets a 3.4-liter flat six good for 325 horsepower. Six-speed manual and seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmissions are available for both models. When equipped with PDK and the Sport Chrono package, the base Cayman accelerates to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds; the Cayman S makes the run in 4.6 seconds.

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Despite the brisk acceleration and strong horsepower outputs, the Cayman is surprisingly fuel efficient. Gas mileage ratings for the base Cayman, per the EPA, are 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with the manual transmission and 22/32/26 mpg with PDK. The Cayman S rates 20/28/23 mpg with the manual and 21/30/24 with the PDK.

The Cayman handles at least as well as the Boxster and Boxster S it shares its core architecture with; in other words, it's brilliant. The Boxster's electric power steering is among the best in the industry, and the Cayman's is every bit as good. In fact, the only real difference between the Boxster and the Cayman, aside from a little extra power in the Cayman's favor, is the roof.

Available equipment and features are impressive, with a decided bent toward the luxury end of the spectrum, though without some of the more advanced technology and safety items you'll find farther up the Porsche range. Much of the Cayman's feature set is optional, however, meaning the price will rise for each gadget and gizmo you add to the purchase list.

Some of the highlights of the options list include: Porsche Communications Management, or PCM, which offers a seven-inch touchscreen display, CD/DVD/MP3 player, available six-disc CD/DVD changer, iPod/USB connectivity, navigation, and more; a Bose Surround Sound audio system with 445 watts and 10 speakers; a choice of three different steering wheels, one with multi-function audio, phone, and navigation controls; a choice of three seating options, including the standard sport seats, power sport seats, and adaptive sport seats with available heating and ventilation; a leather interior package to enhance the look and feel of the dash, doors, and more; dual-zone automatic climate control; built-in quad-band GSM telephone; and a "light design" package that adds dimmable, multi-zone LED illumination to the cabin.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the 2014 Porsche Cayman, but with a rigid aluminum chassis, potent brakes, advanced traction and stability controls, plus a full complement of airbags including Porsche Side Impact Protection System (POSIP), the Cayman should prove to be a safe sports coupe in the event of an accident.

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2014 Porsche Cayman

Styling

The 2014 Porsche Cayman wears sleek, crisp new styling to better set itself apart from the larger, faster 911.

Like the Boxster that was completely redesigned for the 2013 model year, the 2014 Porsche Cayman is all-new, and it's even more visually striking than ever.

More angular, crisp, and cleanly detailed than any previous Cayman, the 2014 model wears its not-quite-a-911 looks with grace and ease. The nose is low, slung between rising fenders, with a taut passenger bubble sloping gently toward the tail. If there's one awkward angle to the car, it's the rear three-quarters view, though even then, the flared fenders speak of sport and strength.

Inside, the Cayman is very similar to the larger 911, as well as its soft-top sibling, the Boxster. A clear and driver-focused instrument and dash layout give way to a tight grid of buttons; while it's a bit busy in places, it's straightforward, honest--it clearly bears an engineer's touch as well as a stylist's.

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2014 Porsche Cayman

Performance

Fantastic emotional appeal and incredible driver communication make the 2014 Porsche Cayman a top pick among modern sports cars.

The 2014 Porsche Cayman is an aficionado's sports car. Whether you're a three-pedal purist or on the next new technology train, the Cayman has something to offer--and it all boils down to sheer driving pleasure.

Two major variants of the Cayman are available: the standard Cayman and the Cayman S. The primary distinction is one of power, though the Cayman S also gets slightly larger and wider wheels as standard equipment. The base Cayman rates 275 horsepower from its 2.7-liter normally aspirated flat six-cylinder engine; the Cayman S uses a 3.4-liter flat six that generations 325 horsepower. Either model can be had with either a six-speed manual transmission or the seven-speed paddle-shift dual-clutch PDK gearbox.

With no performance-oriented options, the Cayman and S both show their fundamentally sound and inspired engineering: they're a blast to drive. Add in the sport exhaust and the bark matches the bite; add the Sport Chrono package, and Porsche Active Suspension Management (as well as a few other Porsche acronyms) help turn the knob to 11 when pushed, but retains the Cayman's rather relaxed around-town nature.

In other words, whichever Cayman flavor you choose, and however you equip it, you'll have a fine sports car. You can just choose how sharp an edge you'd like. In base form, the manual-equipped Cayman reaches a top speed of 165 mph and hits 60 mph from a stop in 5.4 seconds; the PDK transmission cuts the 0-60 mph time to 5.3 seconds, or 5.1 seconds with the Sport Chrono package in Sport Plus mode. For the Cayman S, the manual gearbox rates a top speed of 175 mph, dashing to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds; the PDK cuts that to 4.6 seconds, or 4.4 seconds with the Sport Chrono package.

Electric power steering used to be a byword for numb, vague steering, but the industry's advances in this field have been rapid, perhaps nowhere so much as at Porsche. Like the Boxster, the Cayman's steering is informative and intuitive, direct without being noisy. It's not the best we've ever felt, nor is it better than the best of Porsche's previous hydraulic-assist steering, but it's certainly not a reason to avoid the Cayman. If anything, the Cayman still has some of the best steering in its performance class, electric or otherwise.

Weighing in between 2,888 lbs and 2,976 lbs, the Cayman range are light by modern standards. This is reflected in part through the steering (the mid-engined nature puts less weight on the front tires), and in part through the general feeling of nimbleness the Cayman exhibits in any turn. It also helps the relatively modest power output generate impressive acceleration, both from a stop and while already moving, in gear.

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2014 Porsche Cayman

Comfort & Quality

More comfortable and quieter than before, the 2014 Porsche Cayman is well-equipped and luxurious for a two-seat sports car.

While the last Cayman was rightly faulted for several drawbacks, especially cabin noise, the 2014 Porsche Cayman has taken great strides to ameliorate or eliminate these issues.

Like the Boxster, the Cayman is much quieter overall than its predecessor, though tire noise still makes its presence known at freeway speeds. Unlike the Boxster, gear whine from the rear of the car is also noticeable, owing to the hatch area's extension to the rear bumper. Even so, the new Cayman is noticeably quieter and more refined than the one that came before it--and not beyond the pale of competitive cars in its performance/price class.

Otherwise, the interior of the Cayman is very impressive. Quality leathers, excellent plastics, and the general level of fit and finish give a nod to the price premium a Porsche buyer is likely to pay. There's no aspect of the cabin that doesn't speak of well-built, well-engineered quality.

The seats are comfortable, with ample leg, head, and shoulder room for taller and larger occupants. The driver's seat and steering wheel are widely adjustable to suit a wide range of body sizes and types as well. There's not much gear-storage space in the cabin--small door pockets and a compact center console bin--but the rear hatch area and the front trunk do offer reasonable space for gear that doesn't need to be accessible during the drive.

A high-resolution, 7-inch touchscreen in the center console handles the Porsche Communication Management (infotainment) system, including audio, navigation, and other duties. A grid of buttons below the screen also offer direct access to various aspects of the Cayman's cabin systems.

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2014 Porsche Cayman

Safety

With plenty of safety equipment buyers don't need to worry about the lack of crash test data on the 2014 Porsche Cayman.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash tested the 2014 Porsche Cayman or its predecessors, but that shouldn't put buyers off its potential for safety.

Engineered for rigidity and strength while remaining light, the Cayman's aluminum-intensive structure is among the most advanced on the road. Add to that a standard complement of front, head, thorax, and knee airbags, plus pre-tensioning seat belts, side-guard door impact beams, plus ABS, traction/stability control, hugely capable brakes, and other safety-aiding electronics, and the Cayman is likely as safe as any modern compact sports car.

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2014 Porsche Cayman

Features

The 2014 Porsche Cayman offers ample standard equipment, plus enough optional extras to nearly double the price.

Every 2014 Porsche Cayman comes with a tremendous amount of standard equipment, but there's a huge array of a la carte options available, as well. One caveat for the Cayman buyer, as with nearly any Porsche: beware the price creep that comes with ticking lots of cool feature boxes.

The base Cayman and Cayman S include a wealth of convenience and luxury items: rain-sensing wipers; electric-adjust heated exterior mirrors; ambient footwell lighting; cruise control; two-way adjustable sport seats; 4.6-inch TFT instrument cluster display; 7-inch color touchscreen infotainment control; Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity; and more.

Optional extras include an upgraded audio system; Bose surround sound; six-disc CD/DVD changer; ventilated seats; heated seats; heated steering wheel; adaptive cruise control; 14-way adjustable memory sport seats; a fire extinguisher; dual-zone automatic climate control; Burmester sound; and much more.

In addition to the numerous comfort and convenience features, the Cayman also offers the Sport Chrono package, a full-fledged performance kit that upgrades the entire car in one way or another, from throttle and transmission response to suspension tuning and more. A range of settings are selectable through a console-mounted set of buttons, offering Sport and Sport Plus modes in addition to normal cruising mode.

The Sport Chrono package is maximized when matched with the PDK transmission, which allows the computer to realize several features not possible with the manual transmission, including Launch Control, a "motorsport-derived gearshift strategy," and more. The Sport Chrono also allows the car to store and report lap times and other performance metrics for later analysis.

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2014 Porsche Cayman

Fuel Economy

The 2014 Porsche Cayman isn't a hybrid, but, for a sports car, it's quite good with the gas mileage.

However you equip the Porsche Cayman (or its sportier Cayman S variant), the gas mileage figures work out much the same.

The least efficient version is still rather green for a high-performance sports car: the Cayman S with the six-speed manual transmission scores an EPA-rated 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined. Swap the manual for the dual-clutch PDK transmission, and the Cayman S rates 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined.

The less powerful base Cayman is even greener, rating 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with the manual transmission; the PDK gearbox bumps those figures to 22/32 mpg city/highway, and 26 mpg combined.

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June 7, 2015
2014 Porsche Cayman 2-Door Coupe S

Porsche Cayman S

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This car is a lot of fun, good balance and a really nicely balance sports car.
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April 20, 2015
For 2014 Porsche Cayman

Cayman...best car ever

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Absolutely love the car, performance is plenty,lots of fun.I never get tired of looking at the car or driving it.The manual is silky smooth and precise, the interior is comfortable,even with the sport seats... + More »
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April 17, 2015
For 2014 Porsche Cayman

A car that does everything well.

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Performance, styling and quality all in one package.
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Styling 10.0
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Features 9.0
Fuel Economy 7.0
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