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  • The Octane Addict

Porsche 981 Cayman Ownership Review Ep.2

So I’m a few months in to owning the Cayman and the damn thing has really gotten under my skin, but it ain’t perfect.

As mentioned in Ep.1 I really wanted to get the car out on track, there is no better place to learn about a car than a racetrack and it just so happens I have a number of tracks relatively close to home. I'd decided to take the car out to Curborough, its a small but technical track that is brilliant for learning car control and the sprint format means there are no other cars to worry about.

For the first couple of runs I put the car into Sport Plus mode which tightens everything up and allows a small bit of slip but stops you from having any big slides, it works great on the road but on track it was a little bit frustrating as I felt it cut in too early. This is easily solved by turning everything off, apart from the fact that off doesn't mean off with even a long hold of the stability button not killing the nannies, it will instead tone them right down. This resulted in me being able to get some nice big slides but with them ending sooner than i'd want, combine this with the long gearing and i'm sure its almost impossible to spin this car in the dry.

A morning of pratting around gave me a real insight into the cars past the limit behavior, which is fantastic. You have to really huck the car in to a corner to provoke a slide, once you are sideways you can hold an angle easily using the throttle but exiting the slide requires fast hands as the combination of a grippy rear end and mid engined balance makes the car a little snappy to straighten up. With more power this platform would be a joy to slide, I suspect a GT4 is perfect for this application.

Towards the end of the day I focused more on clean runs to find out how good a cleanly driven Cayman is, predictably its very good. The brakes are strong and the pedal inspires confidence due to being weighted well and brimming with feel, this enables you to easily modulate trail braking which is where the chassis really comes alive. A lift of throttle on corner entry feels magnificent as the whole chassis pivots into the apex, the front will bite hard and the rear will follow suit. The electric rack works much better on track and loads up nicely under heavy cornering forces, if it had this much feel on road I really wouldn't miss a hydraulic rack. The engine sounds wonderful and is a joy past 4500rpm, its just a shame the gearing is so damn long, it really does become noticeable on a track as tight as Curborough. Below that 4500rpm threshold the car can feel a little sluggish, if it had tighter stacked ratios this wouldn't be an issue but alas it is. Its so close to being perfect, but its just not quite there.

Back to using the car on the road has led me to find a few little annoyances. Despite it being impeccably engineered, it seems that ze Germans neglected to think about sunny days and glare. More specifically the retina searing laser beam that the silver gear surround creates on a clear day. It’s very bloody annoying and without resorting to some hideous 4d carbon vinyl wrap I cannot think of how to fix it. I can’t bring myself to do anything to an interior that looks this good, ergonomically perfect yet visually impairing.

My next grumble is the electric handbrake, it’s not that it doesn’t work, it’s just sometimes you think it isn’t going to work. If you park on a slope, engage the handbrake and release the brakes the car will roll back about 2 inches scaring the living shit out of you before it clicks on. I’ve resorted to leaving the car in gear as one day I’m convinced I’ll wake up to a Cayman shaped hole in the hedge at the bottom of the road. But again, where the hell would Porsche put a handbrake in this ergonomically perfect interior? God damn it, I get it now.

Then there’s the Porsche Sports Exhaust, it is ridiculously loud at full chat. 103.5db to be precise, enough to nearly get you booted off most UK tracks. But the noise it makes is symphonically raucous, it’s like asking Lemmy Kilmister, Ozzy Osbourne , Layne Staley and Adele to sing on the same song. This isn’t noise, it’s mechanical violence harmonising. What’s wrong with that I hear you ask? Well it’s a bit boomy at 2500rpm, but hey we’ve all heard what Ozzy’s speaking voice is like.

I think this sums up my time with the Cayman so far, it’s hard to find things that I don’t like. The fact is, it’s a damn good sports car that has some very small niggles. Driving it at five tenths you’d think it was great, seven tenths it’s really good, get it up to nine or even ten tenths and well those niggles really don’t matter. Even this "base" 2.7 Cayman is packed with typical Porsche engineering, its everything you want from a sports car. Unflappable, dependable, enjoyable.

God damn you Porsche, I now get why people are obsessed with your cars.

On Track footage here:

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