Visited my dealership today to complete some final paperwork (parking certification) and was happily surprised to find a tagged Cayman that the dealership had just received. After my paperwork was completed my rep handed me the keys for an hour of unescorted driving.

The car had 42 kilometers when I started, tiptronic, black, with 18" wheels, PASM, sport chrono, sport seats, standard air, standard stereo, and partial leather (seat pocket covers, center consol surround).

Before I begin my commentary, I'll point out that I've never driven a Boxster, my experience has been in a 2002 9114S w/tiptronic and a 2001 9114 manual.

Tried tiptronic in both auto and manual modes; disappointing to say the least. Apologies to any fans out there but shift speeds in manual mode were slow, (to say the least), while auto-mode is laughable. I had read that Porsche has improved the tiptronic in the shift from 996 to 997 and 986 to 987 - I don't see the improvement.

Acceleration in 2nd gear (tip in manual) from 35mph is impressive. I recently had a drive in a friend's 355 and my seat of the pants comparison is that the Cayman isn't too far behind. The engine does seem to want to rev, especially when VarioCamPlus kicks in. I wasn't able to get the car onto the highway and so was limited to very short sprints.

There have been many comments in various places on the Cayman's exhaust note; I found it to be very aggressive, especially above 5500 rpm where it shifted from a bark into an outright howl. Apart from the exhaust, one is treated to an assortment of sounds - air intake, belt whine, etc... Which leads into a comment on the stereo - forget it - forget the standard unit, forget the Bose - you won't hear a thing from either one unless you're puttering about below 3500 rpm.

PASM in sport mode was punishing on city streets, the normal mode was very comfortable. I'm not at all surprised by this and expect the two modes to be completely satisfactory to meet the two lives my own car will be leading.

The handling is extraordinary - it's no 911 - and you can feel it very clearly. The Cayman cornered on city streets as if on rails - a completely different feeling from the 911 where you need to toss the rear out to help move quickly through a turn. Handling reminds me a Lotus Elise I once drove.

All in all my appetitie is further whetted in anticipation of December 28th, when I take delivery of my Cayman.