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2008 Porsche Cayman Overview

Some Porsche enthusiasts will tell you that with the Cayman - the hardtop Boxster - Porsche finally got the engine in the right place. That will sound like heresy to the Porsche 911 faithful. Automotive journalists, however, tend to side with the heretics.

The Cayman comes in two main flavors - Cayman and Cayman S. The standard flavor features a specifically engineered two-piece aluminum block with 24 valves in the traditional Porsche flat-six boxer layout. The 2.7-liter engine is equipped with Porsche's VarioCam Plus variable valve timing and lift system and a two-stage resonance induction manifold for better airflow. It produces 245 hp with 201 lb-ft of torque. The hotter S model increases the engine size to 3.4 liters, producing 295 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. Both versions are equipped with a race-bred dry-sump oil system and an electronic oil-level indicator that does away with the dipstick, allowing oil pressure and temperature to be checked from the driver's seat.

Standard on the Cayman is a five-speed manual, with the five-speed Tiptronic and a six-speed manual as options, while the Cayman S offers the six-speed manual as standard and the Tiptronic S as an option. Porsche claims the five-speed Cayman does the 0-60 jump in 5.8 seconds - though Car and Driver managed 5.5 seconds - with the automatic getting there in 6.7 seconds; respective manual/automatic top speeds are 160/157 mph. The Cayman S hustles along at 5.1 seconds for the six-speed manual and 5.8 seconds for the automatic, with top speeds of 171/166 mph, manual/automatic respectively. Gas mileage, according to Porsche figures, is quite impressive at 23/32 mpg for the manual Cayman and 21/28 mpg for the automatic. The high-performance S achieves 20/28 mpg for the manual and 20/27 for the automatic.

Some reviewers fault the 2.7-liter engine for lacking low-end grunt. Reviewers find it most satisfying between 4,000 and 7,000 rpm. They prefer the 3.4-liter S engine's "smooth, ready power for any situation." The five-speed manual also came in for criticism when compared to the finesse of the six-speed - and no one even mentions the Tiptronic S when reviewing the Cayman!

Both models feature McPherson struts front and rear with lateral control arms and lightweight aluminum axle assemblies with Porsche's excellent variable steering up front. Porsche Stability Management (PSM) is a standard on the Cayman and Cayman S. This highly capable stability system constantly monitors the car's dynamics to insure that it's traveling in the direction the driver is pointing it. For the more adventurous, the system can also be set to standby, allowing it to automatically re-activate when the ABS system is called into play.

But the key piece of the Cayman performance architecture is the car's mid-engine layout. Long considered an ideal engine placement for sports cars, Porsche has applied its usual engineering brilliance to the Cayman as an expression of this principle. Reviewers seem unanimous in their enthusiasm for the Cayman's near perfect balance, Car and Driver noting its "confidence-inspiring stability at high speed." Edmunds was the most "heretical" and suggested the Cayman is Porsche's best handling car.

Yet it's not just the ability to hold a line through a high-speed corner that excites reviewers. The Cayman is a fine-riding everyday driver. Reviewers were surprised to find that the Cayman handles bumps and cracks without undue harshness. They also enthuse about the Cayman's variable steering and race-bred braking capabilities.

Adding to the handling refinement of the Cayman is the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system, which is optional on both trims. PASM lowers the ride height by 10 millimeters and electronically controls the damping of the shocks according to road conditions and driver input. The system offers the driver two modes, Normal and Sport. Reviewers find the system furthers the Cayman's handling dynamics, allowing it even more comfort on the daily drive and greater high-speed stability.

Reviewers and owners also have enthusiasm for the sensual aesthetics of the Cayman's exterior design, while also applauding Porsche's driver-focused interior, where the main attraction is the road. Set up as a driver's car, the interior locates controls and gauges within easy reach. The Cayman also offers an amazing amount of cargo space for a two-seat sports car, with 5.3 cubic feet of cargo space in the front trunk and 9.2 cubic feet under the glass hatchback.

Safety, as with all Porsches, receives the same attentive engineering as does performance. The interior provides six airbags that work in concert with a raft of passive and active safety features.

Updated by Anonymous

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