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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm looking for a daily driver which I can also have fun with on the track. I've test driven both and I can't decide between the Cayman 981 13/14 or 370z Nismo 15/16 or even an Audi mk3 TTS. I love the look of all of them really and found both the Cayman and 370z a blast to drive. My favourite test drive was in the Base 370z but I think that may be because they let me have more fun / speed in it. Overtaking and ripping down a dual carriageway at 120 with all cars indicating to get out of the way was immense fun. It felt genuinely scary and on edge. I feel like the Cayman might be more composed but without the exciting feeling of danger I tend to like. The Porsche is stunning and timeless on the exterior and sounds superb as did the 370z. I test drove the highest spec TT not the TTS but it to have instant power on tap and didn't need to be worked as hard as the other two. I can't really comment on anything else because I spent all of 5 minutes in the car on straight dual carriage ways! Really poor test drive and it was hard to get one in the first place.

The Audi's interior and exterior is stunning but it might lack the excitement and drama of the other 2 as it's only 4 cylinder fwd, quiet, smooth and refined in a business sort of way. It id seem a lot more powerful than I expected perhaps due to the quick changes of the DSG and the torque and wide power band of the turbo. You don't need to work hard for the power at all. It didn't sound that great or loud though compared to the Porsche or Nissan perhaps partly owing to a very insulated cabin. The Nissan is a more powerful beast but heavier than the cayman and many say the cayman handles much better and would be superior around any track. I also read that the Nissan doesn't like to be pushed or doesn't sound or perform well at 10/10ths like the Cayman would. Steering on all of the cars felt lighter than i'm used to being very modern but I'd say the 370z felt the best in an old hydraulic way.

Depreciation - Caymans seem to hold their value incredibly well. TTS are pretty good too. Nissans probably not so much although i'm already saving around 1/4 of the new purchase price. All seem to have pretty bad maintenance and repair costs. The Nissan is newer though so hopefully less would go wrong but Porsche fairs extremely well in JD Power Dependability.

I worry about the Caymans potential lack of power at 270bhp vs the Nismo's 340bhp. Of course I would love a Cayman S which is more comparable but it's too much money when i'm stretching my budget as it is. I've kind of accepted that a test drive isn't going to tell me a great deal about a car because it's too short, there's often too much traffic, they pick boring main roads, the salesmen often keep harassing you to slow down before you've had the chance to have any real fun.

Any thoughts?

Summary of My Thoughts Simplified:

Looks - All 3 Look Great - Cayman > TTS > Nismo

Interior - Audi > Cayman > Nismo

Technology (for the money) - TTS > Nismo > Cayman

Raw Exciting Sports Car Feeling - Nismo > Cayman > TTS

Price - Nismo > TTS > Cayman 26k vs 28k vs 30k (more like 33k)

Depreciation - Cayman > TTS > Nismo

Power - Nismo > TTS > Cayman

RWD - Nismo > Cayman > TTS (Porsche doesn't really have much oversteer excitement)

Engine - Nismo > Cayman > TTS

Sound - Cayman > Nismo > TTS

Steering Weight - Nismo > Cayman > TTS

Rarity - Nismo > Cayman > TTS

Prestige - Cayman > Audi > Nismo

Age - Nismo > TTS > Cayman

Reliability - Porsche > Audi > Nissan (JD Power) Not sure on this one

Maintenance Cost - Audi > Nissan > Cayman - Porsche has horrific unscheduled maintenance costs and will be a few years older - It also has expensive regular maintenance costs, I believe the Nismo is very expensive for tax, fuel and servicing and I'm not sure replacement parts are as cheap as one would imagine. Audi I would imagine is similar to the Nismo but better on fuel and tax.
 

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I'd add 2 more items to your summary

Storage space - the Frunk as well as the trunk holds an impressive amount of stuff. The interior storage is a bit lacking but then again it's a sports car.

More importantly IMHO you didn't list HANDLING - pretty sure the Cayman is way ahead of the Audi and Nissan here.

Here's a pic of my G Meter from my last spirited drive - I don't think the TTS or the Nissan can match this. Please not this was done with the OEM Good Years that have 9000 miles on them.

When I was searching for a sports car the things that were paramount to me were:

Handling

Manual transmission

Engine sound - nothing sounds like a NA flat six when it's at 6000 RPM and above.

Good luck in search.
 

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The 981 is almost exotic looking and will age to the eyes of the beholder for a long time.
You can also add the 981's body panels are 40% Aluminum and the steel components are galvanized making it more corrosion resistant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Yes, these are just some of my initial impressions after research and short tests drives. Handling was kind of included with the steering - I didn't really get to learn much about the handling beyond that really - they all felt pretty similar. I imagine you'd only really tell much difference when pushing the car hard in corners which no one is going to let you do without buying it. Review wise the Cayman seems to win every shootout due to it's handling though so there must be something special there. Storage space the Audi TTS would win I guess. Sound is up there - Cayman followed by Nissan and then Audi. I have heard the Nissan sound pretty amazing especially with the exhaust mod (It's also a flat 6 isn't it?). The TTS is the only one not to offer manual - I'm undecided if i want manual or auto yet as it's a daily driver too. Sometimes I love manual - sometimes I can't be bothered with it. I've never owned an automatic but can see they would be good in some situations.

Yes I voted the Nismo last for looks mainly because I think it will age worse. I feel like the early 370z started to look a bit dated but the Nismo saves this with the exotic body kit (for a few more years at least). Even older Cayman's still look very nice and classic and the 981 and later just have that modern edge and a bit more beef to them which I love. I do struggle to pick looks wise between them especially the TTS and Cayman. Both pretty stunning but the Porsche will look great for a very long time indeed.

Depreciation works both ways - If only the Cayman depreciated like the Nismo it would have lost over a quarter of it's value after 1 year and a few 1000 miles. That would be perfect!

One thing I did notice in the Cayman was that the gearing seemed very long which made the sprint to 60 feel longer than it probably should and mean you have to work the car hard to keep it in the power. I don't think I got out of 3rd gear - certainly not past 4th when I tried it. I wish I could rent them both out for a day or two and then I'd know.

On the shallow side of things i'd much rather say I drive a Porsche than a Nissan - no contest there!

Have any 981 owners heredriven a Nismo or 370z?
 

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I owned a 370z manual for about a year and now own a 981 Boxster S PDK.

I love the 370z but it is nothing like the Boxster S (even PDK). The Z was lowered with an exhaust so that made it better (otherwise dull when stock). The boxster made me realize how heavy the Z was.

The boxster is more exhilarating because of its handling. I tend to push it harder. Only needs x73 and exhaust, then I'll be fully content. I test drove a lowered 987 cayman that rode so well, I gave up hunting for a 911.

The maintenance is my only down side but I did get the work done at the dealership. It's just expensive but same type of work as the Z, so far. An indy shop should save u cost.

Either car will make u happy. But for me, I'll take my boxster first then maybe a Z later as a secondary.


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Your spreadsheet approach of listing all the variables and rating each car against each variable is fine, but it will only take you so far. Ultimately a sports car is bought with the heart, rather than the head. Try to drive each one some more and see if one starts to float to the top.
Imagine yourself driving along in each car whan one of the others comes along. How do you feel? Do you think "Gee, I'm glad I didn't get X", or do you think "You know, I really should have bought X"?
Don't get too wrapped up in your spreadsheet, go with your gut feel. After all, there is no totally wrong answer here - they're all decent cars.
 

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Your spreadsheet approach of listing all the variables and rating each car against each variable is fine, but it will only take you so far. Ultimately a sports car is bought with the heart, rather than the head. Try to drive each one some more and see if one starts to float to the top.
Imagine yourself driving along in each car whan one of the others comes along. How do you feel? Do you think "Gee, I'm glad I didn't get X", or do you think "You know, I really should have bought X"?
Don't get too wrapped up in your spreadsheet, go with your gut feel. After all, there is no totally wrong answer here - they're all decent cars.
Definitely agree with this advice.

But if you can't resist the spreadsheet analysis, be sure you at least weight the categories. (i.e. I'd value "raw sports car experience" about 3x as much as "technology")
 

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Steering Weight - Nismo > Cayman > TTS

Maintenance Cost - Audi > Nissan > Cayman - Porsche has horrific unscheduled maintenance costs and will be a few years older - It also has expensive regular maintenance costs, I believe the Nismo is very expensive for tax, fuel and servicing and I'm not sure replacement parts are as cheap as one would imagine. Audi I would imagine is similar to the Nismo but better on fuel and tax.
Last time I checked Cayman is 200 to 400 lbs lighter than other two cars.

As for maintenance costs, if you have good indi mechanic - they are not horrific at all. 981 is pretty reliable car. So you'll need an oil change once a year, a brakes once in a few years or more. Nothing horrific, not much different from Nissan. Now, if you go to the dealer, some of them charge ridiculous prices, yes.

IMO, Audi is far cry in performance. Don't know about 370z, but 350z I owned is also very far cry from 981S.
 

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had a 350z some time ago...i could never get past the coarseness of the vq engine...i know its smoother in the 370z but still coarse compared to a flat six
as for tts...na over turbo any day


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Your spreadsheet approach of listing all the variables and rating each car against each variable is fine, but it will only take you so far. Ultimately a sports car is bought with the heart, rather than the head. Try to drive each one some more and see if one starts to float to the top.
This. All of this.

This is not a practical purchase. Metrics should only matter if you care about lap times. Otherwise, go with the car that brings you the most joy, irrespective of what the spreadsheets say.

Good luck.
 

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It might be different in the UK, and you might not care what others think, BUT... when I'm spending a lot of money (relatively speaking) on a car, I want it to be something really special. In my area, Porsches are viewed as unique and special, but even a modified 370Z won't turn heads. Obviously the car is for you (the driver) and not for others on the road, but IMO it's an added bonus.
 
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My sister has a 370Z and has had numerous other Zs. I have never been impressed with the quality of materials in the interiors of her Zs. Lots of cheap plastic everywhere.
You spend a lot of time sitting in the interior. It should be a great experience.
 

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I have actually owned variations of all three cars LOL. I had the first gen 370z, followed up with a 2011 Audi TT, and currently have a 2015 CS (there was an e92 M3 in the middle of that). Long story short, I prefer the CS.

The 370z was fun, but the materials were so so. The handling was good, but not as crisp as the CS. The engine is pretty solid but sounds nowhere as good as the CS. The price difference between a Z and a CS is rather significant tho, so I wouldn't expect everything to be the same. You do get a lot of bang for your buck with the Z IMO.

The TT I had was the 3.2 and older than the one you're looking at, but I enjoyed that car more than I thought I would. It was rather practical with the fold down rear seats that gave you a ton of cargo space. I shoved tires in the back of that thing haha. It definitely wasn't as fast, but it has enough speed to zip around the city. Handling was so-so, being awd, you never felt out of sorts, but the steering was slightly numb so you just had to trust the nannies were doing their thing. Definitely more composed in the rain compared to the Z, but I'm just as confident in the CS with good tires in the rain as I was in the TT. The Z would be a little skittish at times in the rain. Interior materials held up really well and it was a well thought out design and never had any issues mechanically, aside from a small air conditioner repair, but I live in TX and we use our air conditioners excessively.

I've been extremely happy with my CS, but it is definitely more expensive than the other two so you pay that premium. As far as power concerns regarding a CS vs C, I don't think I've heard a Cayman owner ever complaining. It just means you get to rag it out a little more without having to worry about getting a speeding ticket! From a practicality perspective, I'd probably slot it second to the TT- having the front and rear trunks are definitely nice.

If it was up to me and I was spending my money, I'd probably drop the 370z off the list and see which one you feel better driving, the Cayman or TT.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Thanks for the replies so far. Some valid points made. The Nismo is 1535kg vs 1310kg for the Cayman so 200kg. I'm not sure exactly how that translates or how much I would notice in reality but it does have more than enough power to make up for it since it's over half a second faster in a straight line.

I do get what you're saying. I think the best feeling I got was in the Z but perhaps that's down to the test drive meaning I got to push the car a bit more. It did seem to have some kind of raw character that I liked. I think i'll have to test drive both again.

Prestige wise yes I definitely would love to have a Porsche more than a Nissan even though it is one of their exotic and quite rare models - I've seen two on the road in all of my driving life. I think if I was driving the Nismo and saw the Porsche It probably would go through my mind that yes the Porsche is the more premium classy car. I'd be much more proud when asked what I drive or when people see me to know i'm driving a Porsche! However, excitement does trump that factor. I do worry about being in the Porsche thinking I wish this was quicker like a Nismo and possibly wish i'd bought that or could have afforded the Cayman S. From what I remember there did seem to be a long time waiting in between gears which didn't help it feel quick - not that I managed to get beyond 3rd or 4th on my country roads I drive. I think between the S and the Nismo It would probably be a much easier decision. There's no doubt that whilst I like the Nissan's raw sporty aggressive looks and do like the interior too, the Cayman is a real beauty on the outside and nicer inside. I did kind of think the Cayman could have been more special inside though - it's pretty similar to a BMW 3 or 4 series with the mock leather unless you can find one with full leather in an unusual colour and then you really are getting something nice. The Jaguar XJ interior impressed me much more to be honest but that's not what i'm looking for.

I think i'll ultimately end up buying the one that feels most like a race car which is down to things like how fast I can accelerate, the seating position and cockpit, the engine sound and how aggressively I can corner. I have started to become interested in drift and oversteer but maybe that's something best kept for old bangers on the track. I do like what I heard about the GT86 sort of being engineered to give you a small bit of oversteer in the corners to add to the thrill. I think that would be very desirable but it's lacking in every other department.

I did take a ride in a Cayman 981 Boxster not so long ago expecting to be thrilled by the convertible. To be honest it didn't feel much different than the Cayman but looked worse. It was a very short spin ride but I didn't feel particularly excited by it. A Boxster S does fall in a similar price to a Cayman Base which may be worth considering but roof up the Cayman looks hands down better. If I can remember all the way back to when I tried a Cayman maybe 6 months ago i absolutely loved it and wanted to buy it immediately but figured I better save hard and not go crazy on finance. Since then I've kind of got used to trying fast cars and had a very exciting drive in the 370z base.
 

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FYI even the Cayman S is not really a "fast" car these days if you're talking only acceleration. For a similar price as a CS, new with options, you could have something like a Z06, which really can be called "fast" and will beat the CS up on many tracks. You lose big time on the mid engine balance and light weight though. A few hundred pounds makes a huge difference in how it feels to swing a car through the corners. There really aren't many sports cars like the Cayman in that regard.

And yes, the Boxster definitely trades a little bit of hard edge (race car feel) for open air driving. Marketing says not, and maybe in ultimate performance metrics there is no difference at all, but you can feel a little softness in the chassis by comparison.

If the base Cayman is your only option and you already think it's too "slow" to make you happy, don't buy it. You really have to work the gearing and keep the revs up to stay in good power in the base cars. (Some people like that aspect of it.)

If you do choose to go with a 981, find one with X73 suspension and don't compromise if what you're after is "race car-ness". The PASM takes just a little bit of that connected feel away, although it is very very good with the dampers on stiff. Very good. Far better than anything BMW offers on the M3 good.

One bit of caution:
Be certain that you're not mistaking "rawness" with lack of suspension and chassis development. My 1984 BMW was very "raw" feeling, but the suspension in my CS is obviously far more advanced. It's way less prone to crashing over bumps and getting out of whack in the process. "Rawness" is really about transmitting road and vehicle information to your senses, not giving you back pain or making your ears bleed, as some manufacturers try to make us believe.

(I have not driven a Nismo, so I can't help you decide what it's doing.)
 

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Nismos are a dime a dozen. I see so very many of them running around. They also sound awful, in my opinion, and look like a derivative of something else. I'd go for the cayman based on rarity alone.
 

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Forget all the analysis and just buy whichever one puts a grin on your face when you drive it.
 
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Just remember, Nismo = not a Porsche.

I was also having a dilemma between Porsche and a Corvette. Corvette is much faster and looks great now, cheaper to maintain, but "not a Porsche". ;-)
 
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