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    Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    A few weeks ago I had a chance to do an extensive test drive of a Cayman S PDK.

    The local importer was loaned a variety of demo cars from Porsche AG (all left steering and Stuttgart number plates) for a few days so I decided to drive a Cayman S PDK, which is a model I like very much, and to compare it with my 997S PDK.

    The round trip was more than 200kms and included a short highway, then countryside B roads and finally driving along a winding mountain road to a peak at 2000meters. I know this route well as I do it many times in the year. The left steering was a minor problem but didn't spoil the drive at all.

    On the highway the Cayman is noticeably noisier than the Carrera and due to its smaller engine not so effortless. However, on long open curves it offers a better sense of security and feels more planted than the Carrera. You can come off throttle or brake without any nervousness whereas with the Carrera every change is felt.  Also strong crosswinds across long continuous highway curves affect the Cayman much less than the Carrera. Of course these characteristics are determinable at speeds from 180km/h and over. On long curves the Carrera doesn’t like you to change your mind and decide to suddenly decelerate or brake. When I once did this to avoid a slower car, the Carrera felt like my speedboat floating rather than on solid ground. On the plus side the Carrera is more relaxed the engine noise doesn’t tire you, the airy cabin makes you more comfortable and on the highway it is like a GT car. The Cayman cabin felt squeezed even though I am small by german standards and more so by american norms.

    On B roads I found the Carrera a better and more satisfying car, more playful and more adjustable. The Cayman was more like a train guiding you instead of you doing the work. The Cayman’s handling is so perfect and the car so simple to drive that you feel it is too clinical. The satisfaction of driving the Carrera of B roads was greater, for me at least. Although, for non-experts like me the Cayman could be equally fast and in extreme situations safer too!

    On the mountains with close bends and hairpins the Cayman straggled whereas the Carrera with its LSD just gets into a flow. The Cayman needed plenty of revs whereas the Carrera was cruising effortlessly in 3rd or even 4rth gear. But again more commitment and thought was required to drive the Carrera as fast as the Cayman. The Cayman does the work for you. Very effective and the easier car to drive but not so pleasurable. On roads like these it's better to move PDK to manual mode and select yourself between 2nd and 3rd gears.

    A difference I noticed is how delicate and sensitive the Carrera steering is, as well as accurate. It is a pleasure to communicate through it and place the car. The Cayman’s was more stodgy and heavy although also accurate. The Cayman had 19” Carrera II wheels too.

    Also near the peak where it snows in winter the road surface was abrasive and broken. There, the ride quality of the Cayman wasn’t as good as the Carrera’s

    As regards the PDK operation I couldn’t diagnose any significant differences between the two models. However, because it was a demo car I felt brave(?) to have it more time into Sport Plus with the very high revs involved, than I usually do with my own car. I can tell you that this PDK mode is bordering mechanical abuse. I felt sorry for the machinery in the end.

    In summary I liked the Cayman S but I am happier when I drive my Carrera. The 997 feels the more complete and mature car if you consider all the parameters. The Cayman lacked the LSD option which was essential on the last part of the route. The experienced driver will derive more pleasure from the Carrera, although sometimes it is found lacking  (see continuous curves and side winds).

    Another big determinant is the engine. The Cayman S feels under-engined (as opposed to under-powered), the 997S just right.

    I wish I could try a 3.8 lt Cayman with Powerkit and 400+PS!

     

     


    --
    It's not where you're going, it's how you get there that counts


    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    My previous Porsche was an 06 Cayman S.  Your observations thoroughly and completely compare and contrast the Cayman S  and 997S. Your post is really a must read for someone attempting to choose between the two.


    --
    Carpe Diem

    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    Thanks for sharing your detailed impressions - very interesting to read


    --

    Rennteam Moderator - 997.1 C2S Coupe GT Silver/Cocoa, -20mm/LSD, PSE, SportDesign rims, Zuffenhausen collection


    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    reginos:

    A few weeks ago I had a chance to do an extensive test drive of a Cayman S PDK.

    The local importer was loaned a variety of demo cars from Porsche AG (all left steering and Stuttgart number plates) for a few days so I decided to drive a Cayman S PDK, which is a model I like very much, and to compare it with my 997S PDK.

    The round trip was more than 200kms and included a short highway, then countryside B roads and finally driving along a winding mountain road to a peak at 2000meters. I know this route well as I do it many times in the year. The left steering was a minor problem but didn't spoil the drive at all.

    On the highway the Cayman is noticeably noisier than the Carrera and due to its smaller engine not so effortless. However, on long open curves it offers a better sense of security and feels more planted than the Carrera. You can come off throttle or brake without any nervousness whereas with the Carrera every change is felt.  Also strong crosswinds across long continuous highway curves affect the Cayman much less than the Carrera. Of course these characteristics are determinable at speeds from 180km/h and over. On long curves the Carrera doesn’t like you to change your mind and decide to suddenly decelerate or brake. When I once did this to avoid a slower car, the Carrera felt like my speedboat floating rather than on solid ground. On the plus side the Carrera is more relaxed the engine noise doesn’t tire you, the airy cabin makes you more comfortable and on the highway it is like a GT car. The Cayman cabin felt squeezed even though I am small by german standards and more so by american norms.

    On B roads I found the Carrera a better and more satisfying car, more playful and more adjustable. The Cayman was more like a train guiding you instead of you doing the work. The Cayman’s handling is so perfect and the car so simple to drive that you feel it is too clinical. The satisfaction of driving the Carrera of B roads was greater, for me at least. Although, for non-experts like me the Cayman could be equally fast and in extreme situations safer too!

    On the mountains with close bends and hairpins the Cayman straggled whereas the Carrera with its LSD just gets into a flow. The Cayman needed plenty of revs whereas the Carrera was cruising effortlessly in 3rd or even 4rth gear. But again more commitment and thought was required to drive the Carrera as fast as the Cayman. The Cayman does the work for you. Very effective and the easier car to drive but not so pleasurable. On roads like these it's better to move PDK to manual mode and select yourself between 2nd and 3rd gears.

    A difference I noticed is how delicate and sensitive the Carrera steering is, as well as accurate. It is a pleasure to communicate through it and place the car. The Cayman’s was more stodgy and heavy although also accurate. The Cayman had 19” Carrera II wheels too.

    Also near the peak where it snows in winter the road surface was abrasive and broken. There, the ride quality of the Cayman wasn’t as good as the Carrera’s

    As regards the PDK operation I couldn’t diagnose any significant differences between the two models. However, because it was a demo car I felt brave(?) to have it more time into Sport Plus with the very high revs involved, than I usually do with my own car. I can tell you that this PDK mode is bordering mechanical abuse. I felt sorry for the machinery in the end.

    In summary I liked the Cayman S but I am happier when I drive my Carrera. The 997 feels the more complete and mature car if you consider all the parameters. The Cayman lacked the LSD option which was essential on the last part of the route. The experienced driver will derive more pleasure from the Carrera, although sometimes it is found lacking  (see continuous curves and side winds).

    Another big determinant is the engine. The Cayman S feels under-engined (as opposed to under-powered), the 997S just right.

    I wish I could try a 3.8 lt Cayman with Powerkit and 400+PS!

     

     

     

    Very good and honest drive impression.
     

     

    IMHO it shows a difference between very good mid engine sportscar and rear engine one. Just to add my preference is naturally mid engine layout.

     


    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    Thank you very much Reginos, excellent write-up! 


    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    reginos:

    ...  On long curves the Carrera doesn’t like you to change your mind and decide to suddenly decelerate or brake. When I once did this to avoid a slower car, the Carrera felt like my speedboat floating rather than on solid ground.


     

    I didn't like this handling behaviour of my ex-Carrera S, either. The reason is the wrong place of the engine Smiley

    Only plus side of this handling character is that you can oversteer the car even at 40 km/h if you want; just by lifting the throttle. That's it. When the tail comes around, you apply the throttle and you drift the car easily.


    --

    ONUR

    09 Audi TTS Ibis

    07 997 Carrera S / 05 M3 Coupe / 03 M3 Coupe / 96 M3 Coupe EVO (ALL BUT HISTORY)

     


    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    Nice review!  As for the additional noise in the Cayman, this is not due to the smaller engine working harder.  It's due to the engine being mounted inches behind your seat, rather than slung out at the back of the car (behind the rear seats).


    --
    73 Carrera RS 2.7 Carbon Fiber replica (1,890 lbs) Former: 73 911S, Two 951S's, 996 C2, 993 C2

    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    Great review.  I agree with many of your findings but still prefer the Cayman S - probably becasue I am used to mid engine cars.  I did once find that jumping from a 997 C2 into a Cayman S (both Gen 1 manual), I had adjusted to the style a 911 requires and it took me quite a while to start chucking the Cayman into corners with more vigour.  And whislt the Cayman is definitely more agile, its also more abrupt from grip to slip.  

    Following a 997 at Silverstone recently really highlighted the differences.  The Cayman was more stable in the corners and carried more speed in but the 997 was faster out.  Overall, they were remarkably close.  Both cars handle very well, albeit differently, and it strikes me that people prefer what they are used to.


    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    Thank you for a very interesting and informative comparison. Smiley


    --
    Boxster S 3.4 06 Cobalt / Ocean Blue (Zuffenhausen collection)  BMW 123d M Sport 08 Le Mans Blue / Lemon

    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    GR:

    Following a 997 at Silverstone recently really highlighted the differences.  The Cayman was more stable in the corners and carried more speed in but the 997 was faster out.  Overall, they were remarkably close.  Both cars handle very well, albeit differently, and it strikes me that people prefer what they are used to.


    Very well said - mirrors exactly my own experience. I'm very happy to enjoy the privilege of getting used to both platforms (mid-engine / rear-engine) Smiley Last Sunday I took the Boxey out for some fun at the 'Ring again (the little one had to stretch its legs a bit after I added the GT3 to the stable as my track toy Smiley ) First lap I missed the power but then I got back into the mid-engine flow quite fast Smiley The only thing which took me more than a couple of laps was to re-adjust to the brakes Smiley Haha, and I was chasing the mighty GT-R for a full lap with good old Boxey Smiley

    @ Reginos: great driving report Smiley


    --
    public roads: Porsche 987 S Seal/Cocoa, toll road Smiley : Porsche 997 GT3 Arctic/Black


    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    Porsche-Jeck:


    Very well said - mirrors exactly my own experience. I'm very happy to enjoy the privilege of getting used to both platforms (mid-engine / rear-engine) Smiley Last Sunday I took the Boxey out for some fun at the 'Ring again (the little one had to stretch its legs a bit after I added the GT3 to the stable as my track toy Smiley ) First lap I missed the power but then I got back into the mid-engine flow quite fast Smiley The only thing which took me more than a couple of laps was to re-adjust to the brakes Smiley Haha, and I was chasing the mighty GT-R for a full lap with good old Boxey Smiley

    @ Reginos: great driving report Smiley

     


     

    So, and which one do you prefer ? Giving the Boxter would have the same power and brakes as your Gt3, which would be faster and more enjoyable ?


    --
     997.2 C2S, PDK, -20mm

    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    Thanks for the back to back comparison.]

    I do take issue with some of the comments about the 997/C2S handling though and its alleged tail happiness: Whilst I agree that physics ultimately overcome Porsche engineering and ultimately there is a point at which a 911 won't come back from oversteer, my experience at very high speed on German autobahns over many thousands of kilometers, (all seasons, wet and dry) is that the 997 chassis is amazingly benign as you come off the throttle and occasionally have to brake.

    Of course as you come off the throttle the built in understeer is sharply reduced and you have to take off some lock, but unless you are on the limit of grip my experience is that you wont even see a flashing stability warning light.

    At some point physics dictate that PSM ultimately prevent you from going off backwards but I remain impressed that what I feared most about a 911 i.e. lift off oversteer happens far far later than I would have imagined.

    Regarding the Cayman and having played with one on loan,  I think that it is from purists point of view probably the most neutral (best?) chassis Porsche makes. But I think it is a less challenging and involving drive than any 911 patly because it still doesn't have the torque and power of a 911 but also because it doesn't have the edginess, fidget and character of a 911's quirky, interesting and involving chassis.  Mind you having said all that, Ruf do a special Cayman don't they....      


    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    Thanks reginos, great write up.

    Would your conclusion have been the same with the base Carrera and not the Carrera S?


    Re: Cayman S PDK test drive and comparison with Carrera S

    Woolfe:

    Thanks reginos, great write up.

    Would your conclusion have been the same with the base Carrera and not the Carrera S?

    With the proviso that I have never driven a 3.6 Carrera, I would say yes.

    The determining characteristics and differences between  the Cayman and the Carrera would still be the same regardless of the engine size. Even though, the Cayman S, with its superior chassis/weight distribution, may be  faster than the 3.6 Carrera on a given cross country route, for road use this wouldn't count much, for me at least.


    --
    It's not where you're going, it's how you get there that counts


     
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