- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 13, 2005

SIENA, Italy — There will be those individuals who will allude to the new Porsche Cayman S as being nothing more than a Boxster S with a fixed roof.

They couldn’t be more wrong, despite the fact that 40 percent of the components utilized in the Cayman S are shared with the second generation Boxster S.

Shared components include the hood, headlights, front guards, doors and taillights.

The remaining 60 percent of the vehicle’s makeup is a blend that comes together to represent a two-seat sports car in its purist form and in the Porsche tradition of excellence.

The unique and stylish Cayman S falls into the Porsche lineup of product offerings, positioned between the Boxster S and the venerable 911.

Aside from the exotic Carrera GT, the Cayman S may well be the most sensuous Porsche model available.

The drag coefficient is a slippery 0.29 and photography doesn’t really do the car justice at all — it is better appreciated in the flesh, if you will.

From the oval headlights and floating foglamps integrated into the larger, outer air scoops with a modified front bumper, past the side character lines emphasizing the mid-engine architecture and the acutely curved roofline with small fixed windows aft of the door’s trailing edge, to the broad, powerful haunches that accentuate the large wheel wells, accommodating standard 18-inch alloy wheels.

The steel rear hatch or tailgate is exceptionally wide and opens to 70 degrees for ease in loading and unloading.

Up front is another trunk beneath an aluminum hood. Rear side air ducts get vertical rather than the horizontal strakes of the Boxster S.

The right side duct feeds cooling air to the engine compartment, while the left side duct is directed into the engine intake manifold. A functional spoiler positioned just below the rear hatch deploys.

Power for the Cayman S comes from a new 3.4 liter (based on the 3.2 liter found in the Boxster) flat horizontally opposed six-cylinder with Variocam Plus and electronic fuel injection.

The new engine produces 295 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 251 pound feet of torque at 7,300 rpm. Engine and transmission bolt together forming one unit, delivering power to the rear wheels via dual drive shafts.

The standard transmission is a six-speed manual based on the Boxster unit, but modified to reflect the aggressive character of the Cayman S. Gear ratios for third and sixth are Boxster carry-overs, while first and second gear ratios are shortened. A Tiptronic automatic transmission is optionally available.

Serpentine scenarios are child’s play for the Cayman S, as it is specifically tuned for sporting performance at the edge. Curves and twists in the road literally become straightened lines given the dynamics of the Cayman S.

The test vehicle assigned to me was finished in bright red and was pretty basic, equipped with only standard features.

The base sticker amounted to $58,900, while the estimated price as tested was $60,650.

Available options include: Porsche ceramic composite brakes; Porsche active suspension management; four versions of 19-inch alloy wheels; and Sports Chrono Package that accentuates various performance traits such as shift points and engine management.

The sound of the engine revving at speed coupled with the raucous, throaty exhaust note exiting from the dual exhaust tip — which appears as a single centered unit at the base of the rear fascia — is sweet music to the ear of any enthusiast. The short throw shifter is positive, with a predictable clutch feel.

Steering is as quick and responsive as is the power delivery when prodding the throttle. The ride quality is quite firm, but not oppressive, and the car stays flat and controlled under all but the most severe tossing around extreme turns at very high rates of speed — even then, it is quick to rebound.

The Cayman S is a phenomenal sports coupe delivering the true Porsche spirit in spades. It’s definitely more than simply a Boxster Coupe.

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