Open gallery Close by Matt Prior 3 May 2012 Follow @matty_prior Share
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If you’re expecting the Porsche Cayman R to represent a transformation relative to the Cayman S, look away. The most revealing stat about the R is not its extra power, or lower weight, but the difference in price. The cost of changing the badge of your Cayman from ‘S’ to ‘R’ is less than a set of ceramic brakes.
Of course it’s not as simple as that. For while that extra outlay adds another 10bhp and loses 54kg, so must you pay extra for the air-conditioning and radio that are standard in the S.
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Only a touch better than a Cayman S, which means it’s merely outstanding rather than unbelievableMatt PriorEditor-at-large
Even so, when you tot up all the changes, including aluminium doors, a limited slip differential, new front and rear aero package, sports seats and the lightest wheels fitted to any Porsche, it’s clear that the Cayman R represents proper value.
Interesting too that this is the first Cayman with a superior power-to-weight ratio than a Porsche 911. The R has a 10bhp/tonne advantage over a Carrera (and a better torque-to-weight advantage) so its apparently slower 0-62mph time is either due to the 911’s traction advantage or a bit of strategic positioning. In the real world the Cayman R is clearly the quicker car.
To drive it feels as you’d imagine – slightly but significantly sharper than the S, itself a supersonically able and engaging performer. To be honest you feel the weight saving and performance gain less than the suspension mods: it’s 22mm lower with firmer springs and dampers and comes with 40 percent more downforce on the rear axle and 15 percent up front.
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So it corners flatter and faster with no loss of that sublime Cayman steering feel. There’s more understeer in slower corners than I remember – almost certainly a function of the differential – but it’s easily cancelled with a lift and worth it for the phenomenal traction it provides.
The Porsche Cayman R will disappoint only if you’re expecting it to be a game changer or cut-price GT3. Though it would be nice to append those titles to it, it is nothing of the sort. It is merely the best Cayman yet, which is all the praise it, or you, should need.