Porsches have always been lethal weapons in the hands of the right driver, but the Cayman S magically mixes practicality with the attitude of a predatory croc. Wheels takes the car out for a fast drive

The car you see on this page is the Cayman S, the more powerful 295bhp version of Porsche's new, mid-engined sports car. Not content with tweaking the 911, Porsche has turned out this new Cayman S. Truth is, it doesn't look that different from the other models, but there are a number of significant changes... honest. Of course, the Cayman is not as pretty as the 911, which as far as hierarchy is concerned, remains the Porsche. It lacks the latter's gorgeous, just-right lines, the perfect proportions and the spot-on detailing. Still, it has its angles. Basically a Boxster with a roof, the new longer nose and tight, bubble-like roof however remind of a Le Mans racer. And it figures - they're mid-engined too.

Inside, outside

After you release the beautifully engineered doors which open with a measured `clop', you are welcomed inside by the long seats which are perfectly padded and well bolstered and driver comfort levels are very high too. Pedals, Tiptronic gear lever and steering are placed exactly where they should be. And there is enough space, headroom and legroom for tall drivers. It's obvious the Cayman is a sibling of the Boxster from the inside too. Multiple porthole-like vents, familiar but beautiful dials and that silver 'bikini' centre console with tiny buttons. The spokes of the steering also have a plasticky, artificial feel to them, and don't look great either - disappointing, as this is the part of the interior you're 'hands on' with the most. Still, the Cayman S is well equipped, with a CD system, six airbags, a super stability control system that keeps out of the way for the most part and power seats. It's a car you can easily use on a daily basis, but remember there are no rear seats. Surprisingly, the luggage space is a very useable 410 litres, with compartments both at the front and the rear of the car. Ride quality is stiff too, and you do feel many of the bumps, but it's not really uncomfortable or unliveable in. But this is with the adaptive dampers in normal and not in sport mode; the latter is not really useable on anything but a track.

Engine and performance

Fire the flat-six motor and you'll realise why Porsche owners rarely use the stereo on their cars. Sitting only inches behind the driver, six big bore pistons churn fully synthetic motor oil, as the Cayman S snatches forward aggressively on a mere hint of throttle, playing a sound``````track more brilliant than Beethoven's fifth symphony. The Cayman's powertrain responds instantly, and mid-range punch is strong, much stronger than expected. There is more meat, more zing in the top half of the powerband too! This motor is basically a Boxster S motor enlarged to 3.4 litres, but with the 911's VarioCam variable valve timing. The pace however feels more junior 911 than grown up Boxster. Zero to a 100 comes up in 6.1 seconds, not strictly supercar performance, but very quick all the same. You can feel the car's massive ability instantly. Like an athlete you see limbering up, stretching, the Cayman S feels relaxed but with a very high level of enthusiasm, almost bounding into corners. There is no sign of nervousness, no edgy handling here. It's all beautifully predictable.

Ride, handling and driving

The Cayman's chassis with the rigidity-enhancing roof is 100 percent stiffer than the Boxster it is based on, and this shows. Sharp throttle responses, incredibly direct steering, fantastic body control - this car is hitting the bull's eye predictably. Communication from the steering is so good, you know exactly how much more you can push, how much more grip there is in the rear tyres as well as just how much extra throttle to apply when you need to neutralise that hint of front wheel scrub. This Porsche actually encourages you to go faster, and is nowhere near as intimidating as the rear-engined 911. It's no surprise, really. Porsche make the most unlikely of cars handle splendidly. Their almost two ton Cayenne is as well balanced as some fast saloons, and can anyone else really figure out how to make a supercar with upwards of 350bhp, the motor slung out over the rear wheels? A brief drive is enough to send the Cayman S straight towards the top of the `most wanted' list, above many faster, more visually appealing cars. An absolute delight behind the wheel, this car will have you hunting out the great driving roads for repeated runs. It's almost as quick as a Carrera 911, far friendlier to drive and possibly more fun to boot. Service options are limited and at Rs 53 lakh, it is not cheap either. But be under no illusion, this is one of the great Porsches, as well as one of the great sports cars of the world. This one gets our vote, a must buy if you are considering purchasing a true - blue sports car. TECHNICAL DATACayman S How much?
Rs 53 lakh
(ex-showroom, Mumbai)
How big?
Length: 4,341 mm
Width: 1,801 mm
Height: 1,305 mm
Wheelbase: 2,415 mm
Weight: 1,340 kg
Fuel tank: 64 litres
Performance
Top speed: 267 kph
Engine
Type: Flat six, 3386cc, longitudinal, rear wheel drive
Power: 295 bhp @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 34.67 kgm @ 4400-6000 rpm
Power to weight: 220.14bhp per ton
Gearbox
6-speed, semi-automatic
Suspension
Front: Independent, McPherson struts with coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear: Independent, McPherson struts with coil springs, anti-roll bar
Brakes
Front and rear: Cross drilled, ventilated discs
Tyres
Front: 235/40 ZR18
Rear: 265/40 ZR18c

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