Third-Generation Cayman Gets Lighter, Quicker

By Lee Pang Seng
THE Porsche Cayman panders to those who find the 911 too big and the Boxster, not Porsche enough for their liking. While the Cayman may be considered a smaller 911, there are styling differences from the general family semblance to stand it apart on its own as a two-seater sport coupé.

This is clearly the case with the latest model, the third-generation Cayman. Beneath the skin, there may be common technological areas in the chassis, power units, transmissions and suspension set-up, but the Cayman is well discerned for its individuality. The latest Cayman is completely developed from the ground-up, carrying design and technological advances that were applied earlier to the 911 and Boxster, but adapted to the Cayman’s characteristics.

Firstly, the Cayman has grown, but greater use of aluminium and light high tensile steel in the body panels and chassis components has reduced weight over the previous model. About 44 per cent of the body is aluminium, namely the front body, floor assembly, rear body, doors, and front and rear lids. Some components weigh less than half that of the respective item in the previous model.

As expected, this lightweight approach has not compromised body rigidity but has instead increased its body static torsional stiffness by 40 per cent over the old. Larger glass areas and bigger wheels might have offset some of the gains but the car’s kerb weight is reduced by up to 47kg. At 1,310kg, the Cayman 2.7 manual is more than 100kg lighter than the nearest rival, according to Jan Roth, Cayman Project Manager. The PDK model weighs 1340kg (add 10kg respectively for the Cayman S variants).

The new Cayman runs on a 60mm longer wheelbase at 2475mm, while body length is increased by 33mm to 4380mm. It rides lower by 10mm for the Cayman (11mm Cayman S) to exude a low-slung stance befitting its sporty image. The front body overhang is shortened by 26mm, and tracks are wider by 36mm in front for Cayman at 1526mm (40mm Cayman S), and 12mm rear at 1536mm (1540mm).

Its low extended silhouette is also achieved by moving the larger windscreen base forward by about 100mm while the rear roof line reaches further back. Its razor-sharp sculpted edges are complemented by distinct shoulder lines that flared strongly upwards to the rear. The foldable door mirrors are relocated near the top shoulder. There are also dynamic door recesses that guide induction air into the rear panel scoops, an essential element of the car’s mid-engine cooling.

Body aerodynamics is improved to 0.30 while aerodynamic lift front and rear is reduced by 25 per cent.  The rear spoiler wing can be deployed automatically or  manually. With its 40 per cent larger effective area, more downforce is generated than the spoiler on the previous model while offering less air resistance.

With the new chassis comes a redevelopment of the steering and suspension system: the former is now an electromechanical one (previously hydraulic) that is engineered for sport driving. Apart from using more aluminium components, the front MacPherson strut set-up is redesigned: struts are more compact to be stiffer and more precise in maintaining camber, while lightweight aluminium support bearings isolate impact forces. The multi-link rear is developed based on the old but has more aluminium components, while high stressed parts are made of sheet steel that are lighter and more compact than comparable light metal items. Options here are the PASM active damping and Porsche Torque Vectoring systems. For the former, selecting Sport mode for driving through winding stretches would reduce the car’s ride height by 11mm.

The ‘heart’ of the car is also improved. These are boxer or flat-six all-aluminium engines with double camshafts per bank, four valves per cylinder, variable inlet valve timing and lift, direct petrol injection, and auto start/stop function for the PDK model. Of the two engines, the smaller one is given greater emphasis, though the common approach is to provide ample torque and high power in the upper engine speed range. Both engines produce maximum power at 7400rpm.

With this high-revving concept, the base engine is reduced in displacement to 2.7-litre from the previous 2.9 while obtaining higher output. With power peaking at 202kW (275bhp), up by 7.3kW (10bhp), the specific power of 101.6bhp per litre makes the 2.7-litre unit the first Cayman engine to break the benchmark 100 bhp/l displacement for sport car engines. The torque output is 290Nm from 4500 to 6500rpm.

Power increase for the 3.4-litre engine is 3.6kW (5bhp) to 239kW (325bhp), while torque is rated at 370Nm from 4500 to 5800rpm. Both models are available with a six-speed manual (with different ratios) and seven-speed PDK transmission (same ratios for both). They also share a common final drive. Options include the Sport Chrono package offering gearshift changes according to driving demands with Sport and Sport Plus modes.

To complement the Cayman’s higher driving prowess, the brake system was also enhanced: stiffer front brake callipers; larger brake contact surface; better cooling for brake discs. The Cayman S has larger front discs that were first introduced in the 911. As a safety measure, the brake lights pulsate as soon ABS control is activated to warn those following behind. Some of the Caymans provided for the international media drive in Lagos, Portugal, were fitted with optional high-performance Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB). This system has 350mm diameter brake discs on all wheels and brake callipers are painted yellow. A new six-piston calliper from the 911 Carrera is used in front.

Portugal Drive
Our driving experience in the two-day event was in the Cayman S, staring with the six-speed manual. With only occasional acquaintances with the few manual transmission cars that come our way, we found the heavier than usual clutch an initial worry. It adds to the stress of driving ‘on the wrong side’ of the road.

Another thing was the long throw of the gearshift, unusual for a sport car, unlike the Toyota GT86 we drove in Cologne, Germany. But engagement was sweet and positive, and we soon got the hang of it. Although torque peak was more mid-range, we could cruise the highway in sixth gear at 2000rpm. We could pick up speed quickly when easing on the throttle. For the hilly winding section, third gear was often used, with occasional second for tight corners, using Sport mode.

The flat-six boxer revved smoothly to 7500rpm but it was the guttural exhaust note that gave the Cayman its endearing character. The deep powerful notes throbbing through the twin central exhausts of the Cayman S were almost intimidating to pedestrians.

The electromechanical steering was accurate, giving us a good account of how the front wheels were pointing, especially on roads that were new to us. We were immediately confident with the new Cayman’s response to our steering input and could take unfamiliar corners quickly. It complemented the dynamic set-up to make driving fully enjoyable.

We loved it even more with the Cayman S PDK the following day. Without the added stress of manually declutching and changing gears, we could choose gearchange options to explore the winding Portuguese coastal roads. Often, Sport mode was good enough: It raised engine revs each time the PDK downshifted (an automatic heel-and-toe operation) that kept the Cayman’s traction predictable for taking corners quick and stable.

Rain, meanwhile, spoilt our circuit drive at the Autodromo Internacional Algarve. We had six laps at the 4.7km circuit in a Cayman S PDK behind a lead car. Although the pace wasn’t as quick as it would have been on a dry track, it remained a speedy experience. We chose two shift options: manually via steering paddle shifts and Sport Plus mode, which was designed for hard driving through winding roads. We found both suitable to the wet conditions and the fairly hot pace the lead car was setting. Second gear was selected for the hairpins but third gear, with engine revving above 4500rpm, was sufficient to give us good pace.

During the few moments we ‘lost’ it on entering tight hairpins too hot and had the Cayman’s tail stepping out momentarily, the Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system made all the corrective action to restore the coupé’s traction and stability.

We did an impromptu acceleration run on a clear stretch of public road, pulling first gear to about 70km/h and second to 110km/h at 7800rpm, at which point the PDK upshifted. It was impressive and we could relate to Porsche’s 0-100km/h claim of 4.9 seconds (Cayman S manual 5.0 seconds). The Cayman 2.7 is also quick at 5.7 (5.6) seconds.

Claimed top speed for the Cayman S is 281km/h (manual 283km/h) and a brief attempt on a clear highway section brought the needle to almost 240km/h. The Cayman 2.7 is no laggard either at 264km/h (266). Combined fuel consumption is rated at 12.5km/l (manual 11.3km/l) for Cayman S and 12.9km/l (12.2km/l) for Cayman 2.7.

Its ride was generally good, with bumps nicely cushioned and dips taken with good control. Our Cayman S was running on optional 20-inch tyres and we had to go ‘off-road’ for a short distance through some sections. It handled the mildly rough terrain well. When we selected harder spring mode, ride became a little jolting but it was best for fast highway cruises.

Feature-wise, the Cayman has enough: spring-loaded cupholders that can be stowed; optional electronic seat positions with memory; big luggage space in front and a modest one behind; and a Burmester hifi system that makes the Cayman the fastest ‘mobile concert hall’.

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