And then there was the Cayman

By Guilherme Marques

The 911 is at the very core of the Porsche brand. I think it is safe to say that for as long as Porsche keeps its doors open, there will be a 911.

Good, I like that idea of continuum, it is reassuring and the 911 is always a measure of how the automotive industry is progressing.

Having said that, not even the German engineers can beat physics, and an engine placed on top of the back axle will always cause some problems when it comes to the car’s dynamic ability.

I have driven many 911s and they are truly fantastic cars. In fact, if I could, my garage would safeguard a very nice white 997 GT3 RS 4.0 and a new – also white – 991 GT3. But – and there is always a but, isn’t there? – a car with the engine placed in the middle will have a dynamic advantage and that is that.

Porsche knows this, of course, so when the time came to build a whole new sports car – that was the Boxster in 1996 – where did they put the engine?

You guessed it: in the middle. The Boxster was so good it not only saved Porsche but gave birth to the Cayman as well, a tin top Boxster for those who put even more emphasis on the driving experience.

Forget all other sports cars from all other brands – I am talking BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK, Audi TT, Jaguar F-Type – the Boxster/Cayman are by far the best.

When I wrote about the new Boxster on these pages, the title was My Kingdom for a Boxster so you can see I really, really liked it.

Now I drove the Cayman, the S version, with a 3.4 litre 325 horse power and a VW Golf worth of options, including the mandatory PDK gearbox. I am searching for the right adjective to characterise this car, but Cayman S being better to drive than the Boxster S – if only marginally – and I thought the Boxster to be absolutely fantastic, brilliant, what can I say about the Cayman S?

Well, it is more fantastic and more brilliant than the Boxster. That engine in the middle and a chassis honed to perfection make it one of the most rewarding cars I have ever driven.

At any speed, the Cayman talks to you, becomes your best friend and invites you to play with some of the greatest engineering ever seen in a car.

The performance, the speed, the turn in and the exit of the corner, the downshifts, the upshifts, the brakes … everything about this car is virtually unimprovable, if that was ever a word.

The 911 can be even more capable, even faster, but you need to be driving it like you stole it for its amazing abilities to shine at their brightest. The Cayman does it at 50km/h.

And there is something else, the cherry on top of this already very tasteful cake: after you park it you can stare at it for hours because this is one beautiful car. In yellow my knees can barely stand the weight of the rest of my body.

I drove the Cayman S on the road and on the track – in pursuit of a one Walter Rohrl – and I was sold. Wrap it up, I will take it home.

But – and there is always a but, isn’t there? – taking into account my experiences behind the wheel of the other two Porsche sports cars, which of the three would I buy: the Cayman, the Boxster or the 911?

Flipping a coin seems like as good a solution as any because, to me, this is one of the hardest questions I am asked in this business. I have given it thoughtful consideration and this week my answer is this: if you have the money and want to use it everyday buy a 911 Carrera 4S; if you are a racing driver at heart buy a 911 GT3, although you do enter supercar territory; if you love open-air motoring buy a Boxster S; if you want every corner to feel special buy a Cayman S. Just please don’t ask me the same question again next week.