Running a 48-hour turnaround between LAX and Frankfurt, Germany, is nuts unless your editor waves an invitation at you to spin Porsche's new plaything around the Bavarian countryside. This is a car I've been heavily campaigning to drive since our first peek at it a year ago. A week later and I was there.
Speaking as an artist, to me the Cayman represents a beautifully simple design. Its lines are clean and just a tad sharp; no part of the car looks unfinished or forced. It is rolling, sexy art. The last creature Germany produced that's this stunning is named Heidi Klum, and she struts her stuff for Victoria's Secret.
At the press dinner I was seated next to the Cayman's lead engine development engineer, and I just had to ask about the rumors that the Cayman's engine had been de-tuned a little to make a clear divide between this car and its big brothers, the 911 and Cayman S. He simply grinned and wagged an index finger.
"Zis is not true," was the answer. Good enough for me, and I spent the next full day understanding why.
The morning of our drive we were given choices of Tiptronic, five (standard) and six-speed models in various liveries to choose from. I nabbed a red sixer, flung my gear aboard and studied the route map, stoked to see it gave us plenty of time in the twisty bits as well as generous stretches of autobahn. Scanning the interior for anything that might cheapen the look of this entry-level Porsche had me coming up empty. There was just the right amount of shiny stuff, and painted accents taking the place of plastic is a snarky touch. The extra room in the boot is nice compared to a Carrera, but don't look to stow much more than a weekend bag and a case of beer (perfect for some of us).
Blasting into the German countryside, I loosened the reins on the 2.7 and flicked through the cosy gearbox, bouncing in and out of mogul-esque right and left handers. Nice balance, beautiful turn-in response, and the braking... well, lets just say you could stop on a piece of lint thanks to the fixed-caliper, cross-drilled stoppers.
Without acting the fool I pushed a little harder and blasted out of a long right-hander into a wide-open straight,shifting into upper gears, a permanent grin now plastered across my mug. The car accelerated eagerly, so what was all this "underpowered" talk I had been hearing? Jaded journalists no doubt. Now what about that autobahn? Going from country road to speedway, I breezed past the 100 mph mark and nailed my foot to the floor. Even passing 150, the car seemed willing for more, so I obliged. Only after a 15-mile burn did I lift. I was quickly brought back to earth, highbeamed by a Audi A8 who was in a real hurry. Rule number one on the autobahn: go fast or get out of the way... immediately.
The way I see it, this car has all the power and speed you need unless manned flight is your goal. Even in non-S form, the Cayman is more fun than a comped weekend in Las Vegas-and you can actually tell people about what you did in it (unlike Vegas)
At $49,000 base, the starter Cayman is not what you'd call cheap, but it's a swinging deal considering the performance you get. (And just look at it for God's sake.) Add some bells and whistles, throw on some 18s and you can push the numbers uphill fast, as there are plenty of expensive options like the composite-ceramic brake package. But hey, this is not your dad's 914 right?
2007 PoRSCHECAYMANLayoutLongitudinal mid-engine,rear-wheel drive
Engine2.7-liter flat six, dohc,four valves per cylinder
TransmissionFive-speed manual; optional six-speed manual or five-speed Tiptronic
SuspensionSpring strut axles with separate tie-bar arrangement, longitudinaland track control arms, twin-sleeve gas dampers
BrakesTwo-circuit system, four-piston monoblock calipers, cross-drilled vented rotors
DimensionsLength x Width x Height (in.): 170.9 x 70.9 x 51.4Wheelbase: 95.1 in.Curb Weight: 2,867 lb
PerformancePeak Power: 245 bhp @ 6500 rpmPeak Torque: 201 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm0-62 mph: 6.1 sec.Top Speed: 161 mph
Why we love it: Dosen't look like a base model anything. The interior smokes the Boxster premier issue.
Why we don't: No one I personally know owns one yet so I can't bet on a ball game to nab it for a weekend.
The Price Tag: $49,000