Hotter power gain
Why would anyone ever want to drown out the distinctive metallic burble of a Porsche flat-6 engine? At 3.4L and pushing out 330 hp (the Spyder gets 320 hp, the other difference) and 273 lb-ft of torque, this mid-chassis located lump loves nothing more than being spun to 8,000 rpm. The only other option that should be considered on this car, despite it adding 25 kg (55 lbs) to the car's total weight is Porsche's ridiculously good PDK 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. I'm thinking it as you are: "why not stick to the base 6-speed manual 'box if this is such a purist's car?" Because the PDK is better, smoother and faster than any left-foot, right-hand, heel-toe combination in the world. Period.
It's so good, in fact, that it cuts 0.3 second from the 6-speed's 5-second sprint to 100 km/h in Sport Plus mode. And here we find the first option, the Sport Chrono Package Plus. Other than the lovely ornamental yet functional chronograph it adds to the top of the dash, it also includes a rather captivating button located at the bottom portion of the centre console. Said button makes magic happen when coaxed on. Sharp as a butcher's knife to begin with, the Cayman R turns into a lightsabre, slicing and dicing through everything.
The 2012 Porsche Cayman R is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best driving car under $100,000. This car has equal competence to the best plastic surgeon in the world, capable of turning Susan Boyle into a Scarlett Johansson. And this, my friends, is a problem. I sound like Clarkson...
Yes, the Cayman R is too good. You cannot make a major mistake piloting this car; that is so long as you are not trying to do it on purpose. In fact, with the PDK in "D", anyone could be made to feel like a seasoned weekend track pro. I don't like that. The transmission downshifts with perfectly timed rev matches, upshifts like a hero at exactly the right moment and will hold a gear as long (or longer) than you would under full acceleration. I really don't like that.
I do love the Cayman R's superb brakes (PCCB or ceramic brakes could be considered overkill on this lithe car), spectral-powered steering and fool-proof neutral handling, but I love a challenge. Enter the 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupé. This car is a handful, blisteringly fast and separates the weak from the strong. Heck, BMW should sell "I survived a track event in a 1M" t-shirts. OK, I'm goofing off but therein lies the big difference: you need cojones to master a 1M. The Cayman makes you think you're a master.
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2012 Porsche Cayman Specifications
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