Magic meets classic

Bobby Cheetham

WHAT makes a great car? Is it speed, performance, handling, brand DNA, price or is there something else which makes a vehicle a supercar?

Without a doubt, all of the above add a bit of magic into the equation – and the result is a supercar supreme.

One such is the third generation Porsche Cayman S. It’s a car which is just as ready for the racetrack as it is for cruising down the drag. This all-new two-seater is – after the 911 Carrera and Boxster – the third model from Porsche to feature innovative lightweight body design. And let’s not forget the Boxster won the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists’ prestigious Car of the Year title this year!

Petrolheads will be delighted to know that under the metal (partly aluminium) skin lurks an almost race-tuned 3.4 litre flat-six cylinder 339kW motor.

The rear-wheel driven Cayman S in South Africa comes standard with a seven-speed Porsche doppel kupplungs getriebe (PDK) (auto) gearbox with launch control added to the mix for that little bit of magic! The car burns up the tarmac reaching 100km/h in an orgasmic 4.9 seconds. However, the test car was fitted with the optional Sport Chrono package and it reaches the magic mark even faster in just 4.7 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 281km/h.

And along the way it sips just 8.0l/100km of fuel and puts out 188g/km of CO2according to Porsche figures.

Adding to the magic is a Sport button that lets the driver choose between sport-oriented tuning and comfortable tuning that is optimised for fuel efficiency. In Sport mode, the electronic engine management system makes the engine respond even snappier, with more direct, dynamic response.

The test car, equipped with PDK automatic mode results in later upshifts and earlier downshifts. Moreover, the start/ stop and coasting function are deactivated. The PDK is precisely tuned to the vehicle dynamics.

In manual mode, it enables controlled drifts with the Porsche stability management de-activated – assuming a suitably protected road, like a racetrack. Detection of the yaw angle and steering input angle initiates prevention of upshifting and permits this very special kind of driving fun.

But be warned – this is for drivers who have the experience. Novice drivers should not think they can drive the Cayman S like they stole it! The test car was also equipped with Sport Chrono which offers a wide spread of gear ratios ranging from sporty tuning – for circuit courses – to ride comfort for everyday use.

It also includes dynamic transmission mounts. It delivers the best possible drive-off acceleration in conjunction with PDK and the sport plus button with the launch control function.

This shortens the sprint from zero to 100km/h by 0.2 seconds, compared to normal mode.

The sport plus button also activates the PDK “race course” shifting strategy.

And, as they say in the TV adverts – wait, there’s more! For even better driving performance and comfort, the Sport Chrono provides dynamic transmission mounts. They alter their stiffness and damping as a function of the specific driving situation.

With a hard setting of the mounts, for example, the drivetrain’s moment of inertia is significantly reduced when steering into a bend and in quickly alternating bends, which minimises rear body press. Its effects are similar to those of motorsport cars, in which the engine is rigidly mounted to the body with bolts, resulting in more stable and precise handling.

Would I buy a Cayman S? If I could afford it, was 30 years younger and still had a healthy heart – without a doubt!

The Cayman S is one of the most exciting cars I have driven in more than 30 years of motoring journalism. This is what the magic is all about!

Talking of affording, this is what the car (as tested) will cost you.

Base price – R 838000;

Sports Chrono Package – R 26670;

Leather package, agate grey and amber-orange two-tone – R 21950;

Sport design steering wheel – R 5480 (paddle shift);

20-inch classic alloy wheels – R 32940;

Porsche ceramic carbon brakes – R 96420;

Metallic paint, agate grey – R 6770;

Porsche active suspension management: R18820;

Total cost: R1047050.

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