Motoring review: Porsche Cayman S

A car that is worth a week of rude gestures

Price: from £48,783
Engine capacity: 3.4-litre 6-cylinder petrol
Power output (bhp @ rpm): 325 @ 7,400
Max torque (Nm @ rpm): 370 @ 4,500-5,800
Top speed (mph):
175
0-62 mph (seconds): 5
Fuel economy (mpg): 32.1
CO2 emissions (g/km): 206

You have to be a certain kind of person to buy a bright yellow Porsche. More precisely, you have to be the sort of person who wants to be noticed. You could paint the new Cayman S beige and still get noticed, though – it's a beautiful concoction of aluminium and hot-formed steel with a short, sloping front end, beautiful lines and a tight rear.

So why gild the lily and paint the latest two-seater sports car from Stuttgart bright yellow? It already has a rear spoiler and red brake callipers and will hit 175mph, for Christ's sake. It's almost as if you want people to make a one-handed gesture at you wherever you went.

And that's exactly what happened to me as I dashed around in this car earlier this month, which is probably what I deserve for driving a yellow Porsche, I suppose. It's odd, though, because I've driven bright yellow Caterhams and got only grins and thrashed red Aston Martins and got only waves, but for some reason everywhere I went in my yellow Porsche other drivers and passers-by seemed to take offence.

That's a shame, and here's why: it might be hard to accept, but for £39k (the basic Cayman's starting price) this sports car is actually incredibly good value and one of the best sports cars on the road right now. Yes, in all sane people's books it's an expensive luxury, but that's what all sports cars are for, right?

And this one isn't as pricey as a 911 or Audi R8 or as vast and unwieldy as an Aston Martin or a Ferrari. I mean, have you ever tried taking a DB9 down a tight country lane, or tried to park one? Don't; it's a terrifying experience. The Cayman, though, isn't vast or overly intimidating; it even comes with a proper manual gearbox as standard so you can actually drive it like you're Steve McQueen in Le Mans, one of the best racing movies in history.

It might be odd talking about a 300-plus-horsepower beast as an "entry-level" Porsche but the Cayman is the baby of the Porsche family and, unlike the iconic 911 – which turns 50 this year – it doesn't have two rear seats or the same straight-line speed. Don't dare call it the poor man's 911, though – it handles like a slippery tiger and will hit 62mph in just five seconds.

The suspension is fairly firm (not unforgiving) and you have to work the gears to get the best performance at around 6,000rpm, but this is all part of the experience. The sort of person who buys a two-seater Porsche (especially in yellow) is likely to read magazines such as Octane and Car; they'll like driving for driving's sake. They are what you can genuinely call petrolheads and this is the car for them.

Porsche does know how to make the most out of its petrolhead fans, though. For example, you'd have thought a £40,000 luxury car would come with a DAB radio. No, that's an extra £324, please. What about rear parking sensors? No again, they'll be £348, and don't even think about a built-in satnav – that will set you back £2,141. If this seems like price gouging, that's because it is, but that's missing the point a little.

You don't really need all that stuff and in a world of heated seats, automatic gearboxes and 600bhp supercars, this is a proper road-going driver's car. And that's very refreshing indeed. I just wish mine hadn't come in yellow.

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