2014 Porsche Cayman S
2014 Porsche Cayman S
2014 Porsche Cayman S
2014 Porsche Cayman S. Click image to enlarge

Review by Justin Pritchard, photos by Chris Koski

At full throttle past 6,300 rpm, the flood of engine intake noise from the air scoop behind the 2014 Porsche Cayman’s door steeply ramps up into a furious wail that penetrates the driver’s ear canal. It’s a clean, pure and vibrant sound – but one that’s generated with such piercing intensity, it sounds like it’s being transmitted directly into the brain.

Fire off a shift via the upshift paddle, and in a blink, Cayman grabs the next gear with a ‘kick’ through the driveline, a leap forward, an instant drop of about a thousand revs, and repetition of the process until the throttle is released.

The resulting sensory stimulation is on par with chugging a case of Russian energy drinks, and the sound of the high-strung little flat-six will play in your head for hours.

The ability of the 2014 Cayman S to turn premium unleaded into 325 horsepower worth of raucous sound effects is front and centre in its qualities as a performance car. That is, “performance” in the sense of putting on a show for the driver – via unforgettable sounds, sights and sensations.

Unforgettable sights include much of the new machine’s sheet metal. The Cayman is smaller than Porsche’s trademark 911 and arguably a more serious looker, too.

In the 911, Porsche designers are limited by the machine’s historically rooted looks, and the way its owner’s community starts frothing at the mouth if designers play too much with its appearance. A 911 has to look a certain way, because it’s a 911.

The relatively newer Cayman model line has no such constraints, and thus, is a model that designers can get a little wild with.

They have – and their latest work has turned in a machine that looks like a proper mini-supercar thanks to deep side air scoops, a dramatic spoiler, and headlights that call other modern go-fast Porsches like the Carrera GT or 918 Spyder to mind. Cayman is swoopier, slimmer and more dynamic than a 911 in appearance and presence, not to mention a far more serious looking machine than its predecessor.

Every piece of sculpting, this time around, seems to draw the eyes to the Cayman’s exotic, mid-engine silhouette. Add in the huge wheels that afford a glance at the various subframes, brake components and other hardware behind them, and you’ve got a machine that rewards even lengthy visual inspection.

2014 Porsche Cayman S2014 Porsche Cayman S2014 Porsche Cayman S
2014 Porsche Cayman S. Click image to enlarge

When rolling along, the tester left numerous dropped jaws, craned necks and pointed fingers in its wake. It’s the best-looking Porsche I’ve ever driven.

Sights aside, Cayman is full of unforgettable sensations that support its performance, too. With the engine, gearbox, passenger cell and fuel tank centrally mounted, handling comes with tremendous grip and stability, even at higher-than-advisable speeds. Without the rear-mounted engine layout found in the 911, Cayman’s hindquarters aren’t, perhaps, as firmly planted to the road at the limit – meaning it’s less opposed to sliding and slipping a little on corner exit when drivers push it hard.

Steering is quick enough to capitalize on the front end’s lightness, but without being hyperactive or nervous. It loads up nicely in corners at high speed, directing the chassis with a sense of playful precision and confidence. It all feels remarkably dialed-in to the machine’s weight, size, character and suspension tuning.

There’s a lot you feel when guiding the Cayman quickly through a stretch of empty winding road – but I took note of some important things you don’t feel. Namely, the sensation of fighting mass and physics and grip during spirited driving, is largely absent here. Thank the Cayman’s ‘sportscar from the start’ engineering and lightweight body for the delightfully effortless delivery of dazzling handling dynamics.

Brakes are similarly dialed in: precise, aggressive and packing nearly enough stopping power to make the Cayman do an endo when called upon for urgent ditching of forward momentum.

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