By adding a roof to the Boxster platform, Porsche has obviously created extra stiffness with the Cayman. Having said that, the key to this car’s handling balance remains in the basic positioning of the engine.

Typically, Porsche is coy on specific numbers, simply stating that the 911 and Cayman bodyshells offer near identical torsional stiffness, and that the Cayman is twice as stiff as the roadster on which it is based. This has allowed firmer springs and dampers all round, a thicker anti-roll bar at the front and, interestingly, a smaller bar at the rear compared with a Boxster S.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The key to this car’s handling balance remains in the basic positioning of the engine

An adaptive damping system (PASM – Porsche Active Suspension Management) is an option and was fitted to the test car. Off the record, all Porsche engineers agree that, in the basic disciplines that combine under the blanket term ‘handling’, the Cayman is the best sports car Porsche currently makes. And that includes any 911.

Having driven the Cayman on road and track, wet and dry, snow and ice, we agree. We shouldn’t be surprised by this. The Cayman has an engine ideally placed for roadholding and agility, and Porsche wrote the suspension damper handbook – but the aspect that exceeds expectations is just how accessible the car’s treats are to the average driver.

Top 5 Sports cars

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • DS 3 Crossback 2019 road test review - hero front
    19 July 2019
    Car review
    French premium brand gets PSA’s new supermini platform first. Does it deliver...
  • BMW 318d front three quarters on the road
    18 July 2019
    First Drive
    Entry-level diesel is likeable addition to range but doesn't live up to...
  • MG ZS EV 2019 UK first drive review - hero front
    17 July 2019
    First Drive
    Cheap, spacious and all-round endearing electric version of MG's ZS soft...

Where a 911 can feel intimidating, the Cayman simply doesn’t. And this isn’t simply a case of speed or potential danger. Both cars have Porsche’s delicate stability system (PSM) that is as unobtrusive as you could hope, but the intervention comes much later on the Cayman because it doesn’t suffer the same extremes of oversteer or understeer.

What sets the Cayman apart is its steering, and specifically the amount of reassurance it offers in being so accurate. Of course, there’s a safety window of understeer at work, but it’s never an issue and grip from the optional 19-inch tyres is excellent.

You can take liberties with the Cayman. It is a car willing to allow a driver a second chance. It is so agile, so keen to change direction that adding steering inputs through the middle of a turn is entirely acceptable. This isn’t possible in a 911

Where mid-engined cars can prove less satisfactory is on the fringes of grip levels. Not so the Cayman; it doesn't have the power to slide at will, but it’s a mid-engined sports car that can be driven with a degree of predictable, enjoyable slip within the limits of its open differential. Traction is mostly good but there were occasions, on both dry and wet surfaces, where a lone wheel was left spinning. But then had Porsche offered an LSD the car would have lapped the Nürburgring track quicker than a standard 911 Carrera, and that isn’t allowed.

Our test car was fitted with optional PASM adaptive damping, and in Normal mode the car has well judged damping for UK roads. It’s never overtly comfortable and equally never harsh. Switch the dampers to Sport and the ride deteriorates considerably, so this setting is best left for occasional track outings, where it is very good.

Braking has long been a Porsche obsession and the drilled and ventilated discs, gripped by four-piston calipers front and rear, do everything that could possibly be asked of them on the road. The pedal is always solid and the anti-lock remarkably unobtrusive. With the optional Sports Chrono pack fitted, it is possible to limit the anti-lock’s intervention still further, making the system almost feel like it isn’t there at all.

That the Cayman will stop from 60mph in 2.7sec means nothing compared with the manner in which these brakes will handle sustained abuse.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • DS 3 Crossback 2019 road test review - hero front
    19 July 2019
    Car review
    French premium brand gets PSA’s new supermini platform first. Does it deliver...
  • BMW 318d front three quarters on the road
    18 July 2019
    First Drive
    Entry-level diesel is likeable addition to range but doesn't live up to...
  • MG ZS EV 2019 UK first drive review - hero front
    17 July 2019
    First Drive
    Cheap, spacious and all-round endearing electric version of MG's ZS soft...