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Porsche Cayman (2012-2016) review - Ride and handling

Everything you could ever want from a sports car

Evo rating
Price
from £39,694
  • Too good to be regarded as 911’s budget alternative
  • Styling still jars from some angles; fantastic GT4 sold out far too quickly

Ride and handling

With a near-perfect 46/54 front/rear weight distribution for the base 2.7 Cayman (it doesn’t stray far from that split whichever model you choose), the balance of the mid-engined chassis shines through as you push it harder. But, with the 2.7 at least, breaking the vice-like grip of the 265/35 rear tyres fitted to optional 20in wheels is next to impossible in the dry, not helped by the lack of torque from the smaller engine.

The standard 18in wheels give the driver a better chance of exploiting the brilliant chassis. Adding two inches to their diameter does the car a disservice in every area other than looks. Go for a smaller size and you get more deformation, more movement, more interaction and a more natural grip-to-power ratio.

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Like the Boxster, the Cayman has electric power-assisted steering, and both cars have a more natural feel than the 991, but we reckon the Cayman is probably the best of the three. On dry roads you know exactly where you are in terms of available grip, and that confidence remains even when the road is slick with rain.

You can carry extraordinary speed across the ground, slicing through transient curves without fear of any short-tempered mid-engined twitchiness. When fully committed to a fast corner, outright grip is huge in the S and GTS, but what’s really special is that through medium and slow speed corners there’s still plenty of grip and stability to lean on, yet you can slide the car if you wish, using the Porsche Torque Vectoring and mechanical limited-slip differential to enjoyable effect.

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Sport Suspension is a no-cost option on the GTS. PASM adaptive dampers are standard, but the non-adaptive sports set-up lowers the car by a full 20mm and, combined with the 35-profile tyres and 20in wheels that come as standard, it looks extremely hunkered down. The Sport Chrono package with dynamic transmission mounts also comes as standard on the GTS, but you still have to pay extra (£4977) for carbon-ceramic brakes.

Even pottering slowly in town in the GTS, you can feel the effects of the Sport Suspension through the steering, as there’s just a bit more weight in your palms and the reactions immediately either side of the straight-ahead are more direct. It’s away from town, though, where the chassis really comes into its own.

Turn in and the GTS immediately leans onto its firmer springs and starts working the tyres (Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2s), allowing you to feel the grip and then play with it. There’s a lovely sense of the car’s grasp on the road ebbing and flowing, giving you a wide band of adjustment before the rubber threatens to give up its grip entirely. It fills you with the confidence to carry speed into a corner, feel the front push a little and then get on the throttle to switch the balance rearwards, smearing the rear tyres round in a way that’s not lairy, just very satisfying.

The GT4 is even better. It's lower and wider, inheriting suspension components from the 911 GT3, giving more control and precision than ever before in a Cayman.

'If you find the resolve to disable the traction and stability control completely then you can actually feel the GT4’s supreme balance and agility at lower speeds. Turn in with a little more aggression, snap the throttle open early and over-drive the car and it comes alive not in short, sharp spikes of slip but with bigger angles held easily. Now you’ve got the car under your control nice and early in the corner, manipulating its balance instead of reacting to tyres at the very limit of their lateral grip. It looks more dramatic but it feels calmer from the driver’s seat. Of course, the GT4 is not one for long, languid slides, and a limited-slip diff sees it build speed almost frantically even as you’re sliding, but the chassis feels so consistent and controlled that the whole process is intuitive. Today wasn’t meant to be about finding the very limit, but the GT4 is persuasive…' Jethro Bovingdon, contributing road test editor, evo 214.

Read our full coverage of the Cayman GT4 here, and watch our video below.

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