When most people think of a Porsche sports car, the fabled 911 usually comes to mind. It’s an awesome car, but it’s also $85,000 worth of awesome, before you even add options.
But go down a notch, lose the vestigial rear seat, and you have the Boxster (convertible) and the Cayman (coupe), the latter of which is new for the 2014 model year. Mid-engined cars, with great performance and handling, for a lot less than the more touring-oriented 911.
There are two models of Cayman, just as there were with the previous version: Cayman, and Cayman S, which has a larger, more powerful engine and other upgrades for a much higher base price. The regular non-S version starts at a fairly reasonable $52,600. And for that money you get most everything anyone could ever need in a car.
But of course, there are the options. I purposely asked for a base Cayman out of Porsche’s local press fleet, with as few upgrades as possible. The Guards Red car they sent over was indeed somewhat light on frills, (skipping, for example the PDK automatic transmission, which right off the bat adds $3200) but it still checked in at nearly $70,000. Yikes.
Just playing around on the Porsche online configurator and checking a bunch of “that’d be nice to have” features, I saw the calculated sticker price jump up to over $80,000. And keep in mind, I was configuring a base Cayman, not a Cayman S. That higher performer starts at $63,800, so it’s definitely possible to pay more for a Cayman than someone else pays for a 911.
Okay, let’s say I can order up a base Cayman with no options (a car by no means “stripped”) and get it for $52,600, plus destination, taxes, etc. Could this make a good everyday car? Absolutely, and I would hope that lots of buyers would do just that, rather than use the car merely as a weekend-only play toy.
As good as the Cayman performs, it’s also quite civil just being used as transportation. Sure, it’s a bit of a stoop to settle down into the low seat, but once you’re there it’s completely comfortable. All the basics are right at hand, and it rides quite nicely. A little Porsche chassis magic creates a car that can handle very well but won’t beat up its occupants over typically rough city streets.
For fun, I decided to take a Sunday trip to Target. I chose a store in Pasadena to get a bit of freeway running in, and headed there with a medium-sized shopping list. We were having a typical July heat wave, but the Porsche’s automatic climate control kept me quite comfortable, as did the supportive leather seats.
The Target parking lot was a snap, as the Cayman has an awesome turning radius. I did select a parking space away from other cars, but could have easily maneuvered the little sports car into any number of “compact” spaces closer to the front door. (Didn’t want to risk having Porsche’s brand-new car dinged by an energetic toddler throwing the rear door of mommy’s SUV into the side of it.)
After shopping, I arrived back at the Porsche with my haul. The three large paper bags filled to the brim were easily swallowed by the Cayman’s front trunk. There’s also a smaller rear trunk, thanks to the fact that the engine is nestled in the middle. I could have easily fit twice as much stuff into the car, even if I had a passenger.
Once I’d traveled back to the far western reaches of the 134, I made note of the trip computer’s readout of the journey. Just over 34 miles covered, and I achieved a tick under 28 miles per gallon. (Official ratings for the car are 20 city and 30 highway, so I was right where I should have been.)
If you’re shopping for a car in the $50,000-60,000 range, don’t need a back seat, and want to have some fun, I can’t recommend the new Cayman enough. Provided you can find one without tons of options, that is.
I’ll see you down the road.
Dave Kunz is the automotive reporter at KABC-TV Channel 7 and can be heard on “The Car Show” Saturdays at 9 a.m. on KPFK, 90.7 FM. E-mail Dave at TVCarz @ pacbell.net Twitter: @dave_kunz, Facebook: ABC7Dave