All-new for 2006, the Cayman S is Porsche’s new Boxster-based coupe; although it shares much with the roadster, the company decided to give it its own name and personality.

Named for the cayman crocodile – or possibly the famous island tax shelter – the Cayman S uses a 3.4-litre flat-six engine that makes 295 horsepower, mated to a six-speed manual transmission that can be optioned up to a five-speed automatic Tiptronic with wheel-mounted paddles. Based on the 3.2-litre used in the Boxster S, the Cayman S’s engine uses the same head and VarioCam Plus camshaft and valve lift technology as in the 911 Carrera. The S in the name hints that, as with the Boxster, a less expensive model with a smaller engine may be in the cards. As it is, the Cayman S will reach zero to 96 km/h in 5.1 seconds, and has a track-tested top speed of nearly 275 km/h.

The Cayman S’s chassis and suspension are based on the Boxster, but the car is slightly larger and gains rigidity from its fixed roof, with torsional stiffness almost equal to that of the 911 Carrera.

Standard features include variable ratio steering, stability management, 18-inch wheels, red-painted four-piston alloy brake calipers, ABS, traction control, power windows, three-spoke leather-wrapped wheel, six airbags, heated mirrors, automatically-deployed rear spoiler, immobilizer system, CD player with seven speakers, power backrest with manual seat height adjuster, Homelink garage door opener, alarm system and cruise control.

Available options include a rear wiper, Active Suspension Management (the suspension lowers 10 mm at the touch of a button), Sports Chrono Package with dash-mounted stopwatch gauge, ceramic carbon brakes, tire pressure monitoring system, roof rails, park assist system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, four 19-inch wheel designs, 18-inch winter tires and Porsche Communication Management System, which includes available DVD navigation and MP3 capability.

Wonderfully styled and deliciously fast, the Cayman S foregoes the pleasure of open-air motoring but offers all the driving experience of its Boxster sibling. Its price-tag hovers between the Boxster and the Carrera, but add a few options and you’re dangerously close to 911 territory.

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