2009 Porsche Cayman S
2009 Porsche Cayman S. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2009 Porsche Cayman

Ottawa, Ontario – When I was 13 or 14 years old, my grandfather started feeding me a steady diet of back issues of Car and Driver magazine. I’d get a stack of copies every time I went to visit my grandparents in Toronto with my folks, who would then spend the rest of the weekend telling me to “be polite and get your nose out of that magazine!”

That would have been a logical time for my obsession with cars to begin, but the truth is that I’d been a car nut since I was old enough to, well, breathe, I’m pretty sure.

What those first glossy car mags did, though, was make me even more certain that I knew everything there was to know about cars just because I’d read a whole lot about them (keep in mind I wasn’t even old enough to drive yet).

These days, I’m a lot more humble about my level of knowledge, but I was reminded of that old know-it-all attitude recently when Porsche lent me a 2009 Cayman S to test for a week.

“How much is that car worth?” asked one of the neighbourhood kids as I idled past in the parking lot.

“About $90,000” I replied.

2009 Porsche Cayman S
2009 Porsche Cayman S
2009 Porsche Cayman S. Click image to enlarge

“Wow, that’s expensive!” he exclaimed, which meant that he either had an uncanny grasp of personal finance for a fourteen-year-old, or he was faking it to show off for his friends.

“That’s some kind of Elise!” I heard him say, to his friends, as I drove off.

It was like listening to myself, circa 1991.

It’s pretty clear why kids – young and old – get so excited about cars like this (even if they have no idea what they’re called). The Cayman S (and its droptop Boxster S sibling) is serious fun. The 3.4-litre flat six makes 320 horsepower this year, a 25 hp boost over 2008 that comes thanks to the addition of direct fuel injection. Torque is up 22 lb-ft too, and while an eight per cent power bump doesn’t sound like much, the extra juice is very noticeable.

(Non-S Caymans and Boxsters get a new, 2.9-litre six-cylinder making 265 hp/221 lb-ft, increases of 20 each, compared to 2008’s 2.7-litre engine.)

Despite the fact that peak power and torque both happen at higher engine speeds, mid-range pick-up feels stronger. The improvements are more apparent when punching the throttle from a stop, though; you’ll want to warn your passenger before you do so, or they might need medical attention for whiplash afterward.

With even family cars and minivans approaching the 300-horsepower threshold, it has started to seem, recently, like a rather ordinary figure, instead of one reserved for high-dollar sports cars. But, somehow, Porsche manages to make it special all the same, as if horsepower is worth more in Germany, so that this car’s 325 are equal to some higher number in a car built anywhere else. It just seems fitting that a car bred for the fast-as-you-please Autobahn feels faster than its numbers would suggest.

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