Porsche Cayman S - The Verdict

A handsome new model joins its established co-stars, the 911 and Boxter, in the firmament of delightful Porsches, says David Wilkins

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Price: £43,930
Engine: 3.4-litre petrol
Performance: 0-62 mph in 5.4 seconds, 26.6 mpg
CO2: 254g/km
Worth considering: Mercedes SLK, Porsche Boxster, Porsche 911

A few years ago on a visit to Stuttgart I had a bit of time to spare, so I headed to Zuffenhausen to check out Porsche's museum. I was taken aback to discover that this was a very modest establishment, although perhaps I should not have been surprised; Porsche was, after all, until recently, a fairly small company.

That's the simple explanation, but it's tempting to look for the deeper significance in these things. Perhaps for all its glorious history, Porsche had some old models like the VW-Porsche 914, about which it would rather not remind us. Or maybe the company didn't feel the need to have a fancy museum because its history is out on the road every day in the form of the famous 911, broadly unchanged in shape and layout for more than 40 years.

But I always liked to think that Porsche had a small museum because it was too busy developing new cars and improving existing models to spend all its time obsessing about its past.

This week our readers give their verdict on the latest result of this relentless drive for improvement, the Cayman S, which slots into Porsche's range between the Boxster and the 911. As you can see from their comments, they liked it a lot.

What does it have going for it? It's a long list. The Cayman's power delivery, transmission, steering and most other dynamic elements are highly impressive. This car also looks good, although to my eye at least, the 911 is prettier still. The cabin, too, is very good, with just the right amount of silvery aluminium trim to relieve the blacks and greys that set the appropriate serious tone.

You can argue all day about whether the mid-engined layout of the Boxster and the Cayman is better than the rear-engined configuration of the 911, or debate until late about the extent to which the stiffer closed body-shell of the Cayman confers an advantage in terms of handling over the roofless structure of the Boxster.

For people who care about Porsches, these are big questions. But in terms of the Verdict's scale of assessment, which has to accommodate everything from quad bikes to Astons, these are fine judgements. I think we can safely classify all three sporty Porsches as highly desirable.

Anyway, I thought I'd better check up on what Porsche has been doing with its museum since my visit. A new, architecturally ambitious facility, capable of displaying about four times as many cars as the current building, will open next year.

I hope that doesn't mean that Porsche has started to care more about its past than its future.

Carl Christensen, 45, entrepreneur, Buckland, Oxfordshire
USUAL CAR: AUDI TT CONVERTIBLE

The first impressions are good, and final ones even better. The car is a visual treat which excels in drivability. It has a comfortable, roomy cabin, and instrumentation is bold and clear. The gearbox is snappy, the steering truly responsive. The car handles like a falcon in flight. You are always conscious of the gorgeous engine softly purring away just a foot behind your head and, at the merest glimpse of an open road, up pops a little devil on your shoulder urging you to put your foot down. Were it not for the outrageous cost of non-standard equipment, eg £1,500 for metallic paint and £1,800 for satnav, I might well put in an order.

Gordon Hitchen, 48, facilities operations director, Nuneaton
USUAL CAR: FORD MONDEO

This car is slick, stylish and sexy. At 6ft 2in, I had concerns about getting into this low-level beauty and about how much headroom I would have. I was pleasantly surprised on both counts. The interior is well designed and everything fits perfectly around the body. From when I started the engine, all I wanted to hear was that wonderful purr behind my left ear. Initially, I found it heavy around town, but out on the country roads and motorways it reacted instantly to every command. The more I got used to it, the easier it was to drive. The Cayman is a Boxster with a roof, with bags more umph, which can give the 911 a run for its money. A car of joy.

Lee Cripps, 27, IT consultant, Bicester, Oxfordshire
USUAL CARS: VAUXHALL VX220, NISSAN MICRA 160SR

First impressions are of solid build quality, smooth lines and aggressive looks. The large steering wheel feels out of place in such a sporty car. The Cayman S is equally at home plodding through traffic as it is on a dual carriageway. Engine noise was not intrusive and, to be honest, I had been expecting a little more on the noise front. The engine really comes alive over 3,500rpm and sounds fantastic. Overall, this is a cracking all-round package. I would be keen to see how the forthcoming BMW Z4 Coupé compares with the now-established Cayman S - it's got some catching up to do.

THE VERDICT

If you would like to take part, e-mail motoring@independent.co.uk or write to: The Verdict, Features Department, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, giving your address, phone number and details of the car, if any, you drive. For most cars, participants must be over 26 and have a clean licence.

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