- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

There’s only one word to describe my feelings after driving the 2006 Porsche Cayman S through a motorsport park: Exhilarating. I’ll explain the reason in a moment.

First, the Cayman S is a two-passenger, two-seat midengine sports car with a heritage dating back to the 1953 Porsche 550 Coupe. That car gained recognition with a victory on the famed Nurburgring racecourse in Germany — on a rainy day. Since then, Porsche has developed other midengine sports cars with winning ways on racecourses throughout the world.

The Cayman S has a 3.4-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder boxer engine producing 295 horsepower. Because it’s a lightweight car, it is capable of doing 0-to-60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. It can also achieve a top speed of 171 mph and do a quarter-mile sprint in 13.6 seconds.

But this is more than a race car. It’s a two-seater with storage in front and rear compartments. Two sets of golf clubs could be stored in the rear with luggage carried in the front storage compartment. The engine is in front of the rear axle, under a cover in the rear storage compartment.

Even though it has a solid sports suspension system, it is not a rough-riding vehicle. I drove quite a distance over winding two-lane hilly roads en route to the Barber Motorsport Park near Birmingham, Ala.

Because the car is so well balanced, it was a pleasure to encounter every bend in the road. I got the unusual feeling that the Cayman S was a part of me, and I was a part of the vehicle because of the manner in which it responded to my every impulse. I was impressed by the solid, stable ride of the car.

With the engine right behind the seats, my passenger and I could hear every acceleration, and this sound became part of the enjoyment of the drive. In spite of the engine’s exhaust noise, we took a moment to check out the Bose sound system and we both agreed it is worth the $950 as an option.

There were a few other options tacked onto the $58,900 base price. The test car had adaptive leather sports seats that were heated, plus 19-inch Carrera S Wheels, bringing the total to $63,625.

The engine’s power is linked to a six-speed manual transmission with very short and precise shifts. I enjoyed the ease of shifting, but for those who prefer an automatic, the Triptonic S is available as an option.

I’ve driven numerous racecourses — including Nurburgring — and consider the Barber Motorsport Park as the finest in this country. It’s not a circular track, but one with numerous turns and hills, allowing a driver to give a vehicle a good workout, and that’s exactly what I did in two ways.

A shalom course laid out with cones was my first challenge. I sat as a passenger while a driving instructor drove me around the course at slow speed, then at full speed. We switched seats and I did five laps — all in second gear — allowing me to obtain maximum acceleration, braking hard for a sharp turn, then back up to top speed.

Next came the road course. Again, around the track under the guidance of an instructor, then it was my turn. Shifting was between fourth and fifth gears.

The balance of this car is so precise, I couldn’t get enough of it because I knew exactly what the car was going to do.

After a half dozen laps, I got out of the vehicle with the thought that I was walking away from a close friend.

When asked, “What did you think?” all I could say was, “It was exhilarating.” And that’s exactly what the Cayman S is — an exhilarating sports car.

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