Cheap? No, we wouldn't go that far, but the 2007 Porsche Cayman, with a starting price of $49,400, is certainly cheaper than the model introduced for 2006, the Cayman S.
Porsche, as usual marching to its own beat, made an unusual decision when the company brought out the midlevel Cayman: Typically, the first model that hits the dealers is the base, lower-powered version. Then, in a year or so, it's followed by a pricier, more powerful model. But Porsche introduced the Cayman by selling only the Cayman S, which has a 3.4-liter, 295-horsepower six-cylinder engine.
Now, we get the 2007 Cayman, which has a 2.7-liter, 245-horsepower six-cylinder, plus smaller brakes and smaller tires, and instead of a standard six-speed manual transmission, it gets a five-speed.
Everything you wanted in a Porsche, and less!
Well, not that much less. Though the Cayman S is undeniably quicker, it is also more expensive, starting at $58,900, or $9,500 more than the regular Cayman.
And though Porsche claims a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.1 seconds, and a top speed of 171 mph for the Cayman S, the Cayman isn't that far behind with a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.8 seconds, and a top speed of 160 mph. Both go more than fast enough to lose your drivers license, but the Cayman S will get you to court just a little quicker.
The Cayman, a hardtop, is based on the same platform as the Porsche Boxster, a convertible. The engines in the Cayman and Cayman S are the same as in the Boxster and Boxster S. The Boxster models are cheaper, starting at $45,600 for the regular Boxster, $55,500 for the Boxster S.
At 172.1 inches, the Cayman is a little longer than the Boxster, but the car looks bigger than it is, likely because of the fixed roof. The Cayman weighs 2,866 pounds, a little less than the Boxster. Inside, the two-seat Cayman is reasonably roomy, with firm, supportive bucket seats and nicely placed instruments and controls. Aluminum accents complement the optional leather upholstery. It isn't quite as deluxe as the Porsche 911, but it isn't far behind. There's a little storage space in the cabin, but the rear-engine design allows for front and rear trunks that total a decent 14.5 cubic feet of luggage room.
On the road, the Cayman's chassis is more rigid than the Boxster's, though for a convertible, the Boxster is no slouch. The Cayman corners exceptionally well, with little drama unless you push it far past the limit. Electronic stability control, which is standard, helps you avoid that. The ride is firm but never uncomfortable.
The 2.7-liter six-cylinder comes with a five-speed manual transmission, though a six-speed manual and Porsche's excellent shift-for-yourself five-speed automatic, called the Tiptronic S, are optional. The test Cayman had the six-speed manual plus several other options that raised the base price to $57,530, including shipping. Fuel mileage is quite good at an EPA-rated 23 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway. Premium gas, of course.
As much as I like the Cayman S, the idea of saving $9,500 is too appealing, and the reduced power of the Cayman too inconsequential, for me to justify spending the extra money on the S. That's assuming I have that much money, which would be incorrect. But when my ship finally does come in, there's no need to splurge, is there?
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