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Porsche Enthusiast
Posts: 152
Registered: June 2011
Location: ATL


Porsche Cayman R Suspension Upgrade

Reviews Views Date of last review
1 8434 Sat November 23, 2013


Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
100% of reviewers None indicated 10.0


My car started life with 19" Carrera S wheels and standard, non-PASM suspension. Hard to complain about that, but there is always room for improvement, right? I don't dislike the Carrera S wheels, but they are probably my least favorite of the factory 19s. And the suspension, while plenty firm already, sat a little high and could use a little damping refinement, in my opinion.

From day 1, I wanted Spyder/CR wheels. They are pricey, so my second choice would have been a set of 19" BBS CH-R wheels. Handsome, not particularly light, but not too heavy either. Before I pulled the trigger on those though, I came across a pretty good deal on a set of used CR wheels (curiously, without tires). I had to refinish 2 for minor blemishes, but after that they looked great.

Also from day 1, I knew I wanted to lower the car just a little. I briefly considered Bilstein coilovers, but the cost quickly changed my mind. Despite a successful history with aftermarket springs (Eibachs in particular), I decided against that, thinking that they might make it too low, or just not match up with the stock shocks well. I did considered changing to CR springs only, as a relatively inexpensive solution to the height issue (though doing nothing for the damping issue). Luckily, the guy I bought the wheels from was also selling the suspension, so I got a packaged deal. (Spent too much, but the $$ to value ratio was good)

I decided to go with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires for a couple of reasons: PS2s are too expensive, and Bridgestones are too heavy (comparing Porsche approved, N-spec tires). Michelin has marketed the Super Sports aggressively (booths at Sebring and Petit Le Mans last year), and with some impressive claims (performance, durability). On top of that they are cheaper than PS2s and lighter than the Bridgestones, so I was sold. The only issue was that they weren't available in the stock rear size of 265/35/19. Obviously I wasn't going to go skinnier, so I ended up with 275/35/19 in the rear, and for good measure I went up a size in the front as well, to 245/35/19. With the CR wheels being 1/2 wider front and rear, I figured these would a nice fit. Overall diameter of the tires only increases 0.3" on both, so I considered that a non-issue.

I am a bit of a weight freak, so I have measured and recorded weights for the wheels and 3 different sets of tires before buying any. Everything measured on the same scale, and all tires were brand new.

My Cayman R Wheels (no TPMS or center caps): 22.65 lbs Front, 24.2 lbs Rear
My Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tires (245/35/19 and 275/35/19): 23.25 lbs Front, 27.45 lbs Rear

Porsche N-spec tires, in factory 235/35/19 and 265/35/19 sizes:
Michelin PS2: 21.75 lbs Front, 25.1 lbs Rear
Bridgestone: 23.65 lbs Front, 29.05 lbs Rear

The suspension install was very straight forward (disclaimer: I did not do it myself). It helped that my shocks/springs came as a complete unit, all put together. I unfortunately have no insight for what most potential swappers would do, which is buy the springs and shocks and then transfer the plates/nuts/spacers/bearings/mounts etc.
I messed up by not measuring the ride height before hand. I intended to, but forgot until the car was in the air and partially disassembled (my apologies). I also did not get any in progress photos, so before and after are going to have to do.

We set the alignment to factory Cayman R specs, which are a good bit more aggressive than non-R specs, but not as aggressive as some of you track rats I’m sure. I would consider going more aggressive than that, but honestly I am so happy with it how it is, I don’t think I want to change it.

Here is the after:

When we first put it on the ground, I was very disappointed. It didn’t look lower at all to me. In the days after I don’t know if it settled down a little, or if I just adjusted my expectations, but it started to look lower, and therefore much better. Had they been new, I would have expected them to need to settle a little, but since they were taken off a car I didn’t think that would be the case. Whatever happened, I am very happy with the results, both visually and performance wise.

Because I changed tires at the same time, it is hard to judge just the suspension performance, so my opinion on the performance of the car will have to be chalked up to both the suspension and the tires. Having said that, the difference is Night and Day. Grip is immense. Understeer is basically non-existent. The car just turns, and is very eager to do so. I took it up to the north Georgia mountains shortly after the install (ok that same night) to shake it down, and was very impressed. There were a couple different times when I got to a corner carrying a little more speed than I felt like I should have been, but it never pushed wide or lost composure.

While I think the overall level of increased grip can be attributed to the new springs and shocks as well as the slightly wider tires, the lack of understeer and therefore neutral attitude can be credited mainly to the alignment settings. The wider front tires help too I’m sure, but for anyone looking for a cheap way to dial out some understeer, a good performance alignment will make a world of difference.

I was a little surprised by the ride quality—maybe I’m crazy, but it almost feels better than before. Certainly not any worse. I think I feel a little more “bounce” after quick dips or smoother bumps (does that make sense?), but it feels to me like it absorbs sharper impacts better than before. Again, some of this could be due to the tires, but it does feel less harsh. Now that I am thinking about it, we did lower the tire pressure a little bit, which probably helped slightly (just 2 pounds, rear only). We went from the previously recommended 32/37 to the newly recommended 32/35. After driving like this for a couple of weeks, I went to +1 all around (33/36).

I have compared it to a CR, and for some reason it is not quite as low. I haven’t measured the difference, but I would guess it to be about 1/4 of an inch higher. Specifically, I am referring to the wheel to fender gap, not actual ground clearance. I don’t have any ideas as to why. It would be nice to figure that out, but in the end it isn’t really a big deal.

I can’t make any comparisons to a good set of coilovers, having not experienced any on this car. But for me, this is pretty much an ideal setup and I have no desire for the adjustability a set of coilovers would offer.

Overall, I couldn’t be much happier with the results. A hair lower would be nice, for appearance more than anything else. But not being too low has it’s advantages as well, like being able to pull in the driveway without scraping. Performance is perfect. I mean this car in any form is such a capable car, but the slight change in character brought on from this mod really makes a huge difference. It is very confidence inspiring.

I hope the information and opinions I have provided will be helpful to anyone considering a new suspension setup, and entertaining to those who are not.

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Keywords: Cayman R Suspension Upgrade


Porsche Chatter

Registered: December 2011
Location: Hampshire
Posts: 25
Review Date: Sat November 23, 2013 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 
Have you installed this Product or Mod?: No
Nice write up.

A friend of mine was kind enough to let me drive his Cayman R and WOW!!! the handling was so much better than standard - the turn in was so much sharper and it just craved corners - the merest hint of one got it turning.

To me, the Cayman R (and specifically the handling of it) felt like someone had taken the best parts of the 987 and mixed them with the best parts of a Lotus Elise - a truly awesome drive! :-)

Unfortunately, my car had to go, but as soon as I get another one (won't be long) I'll definitely get the CR's geo applied to it.
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