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by: Speedy

Description: The following is an article I wrote for the May/June addition of "Der Wirbelsturm," the Hurricane Region PCA newsletter:Saint or Sinner?By Mike SantowassoSaint or Sinner? It’s an age-old question which can rarely be answered at first glance. Porsche Cars North America recently posed this existential query to me when a small package arrived at my home containing promotional materials for the Gen II Cayman and Cayman S. The theme of the promotion is “Black and White”, and when you first pull the book-like, black and white box from its outer sleeve you are greeted with a statement proclaiming: “Like every great character, it’s part saint, part sinner”. Cracking open the box reveals two cufflinks – both with the Cayman script engraved on them; one cufflink (inset into the black side of the “book” in a white foam backing) then has the word “Saint” under the Cayman script, and the other (inset on the white side in a black backing) is similarly inscribed with the word “Sinner”. An additional cool touch to the packaging includes pulling a ribbon at the bottom of the box to produce a slick mini catalog, titled: “Black and White”, from a hidden compartment.Continuing the double theme, a brief letter from PCNA is sandwiched between the two halves of the box and states: “As a Cayman Owner, you already know it’s a Porsche so well-balanced, even its personality is capable of turning on a dime” and goes on to note the: “exclusive set of Cayman cufflinks …celebrate the duality of the new model”.
Photo by Brad ZucroffI have owned my Cayman S (my first Porsche and my everyday driver) for over a year now, and though I feel the car is extremely smooth in everything it does, I do know about its dual personality. It was an initial glimpse of this duality which convinced me to buy the Cayman S over the base model. I had test driven a base Cayman and had been very impressed by its looks (c’mon, admit it, the thing is drop-dead gorgeous!), ride, handling and overall refinement. Then against the advice of several car magazine articles, and my own better judgment, I decided I’d give the Cayman S a try. It wasn’t just the extra fifty horsepower and the bigger brakes that won me over, though the two did provide an impressive combination of go and whoa. It was the exotic sounds made by the larger 3.4 liter engine with the VarioCam heads which really grabbed me. I think the Cayman S engine has three distinct modes: the quiet, docile, “I’m just cruising around” sound that holds to about 3000 rpm’s, the louder, more aggressive “I’m getting serious” sound which continues on to about 4800 rpm’s, and finally the “GET THE #$%@ OUT OF THE WAY THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO END!” techno-metal music which accompanies you all the way to redline. It follows a beautiful flat-six, mechanical arrangement and the sound of it hooked me immediately. Thereby armed with a gear-heads’ interest in the latest and greatest car, my constant checking of the latest news and information regarding the new models on the website, and my “Black and White” catalog to pore over, I waited anxiously for the first of the Gen II cars to arrive at the local dealerships. As it turned out, it was only a few weeks later at a Tech Session hosted at Leith Porsche at the end of February when I got my first glimpse. Much to my surprise – even the folks at Leith didn’t realize they’d show up so soon – there sat a new Cayman and Cayman S, as well as a Boxster S, for me to ooh and aah over. While the styling of the new models reflects the usual Porsche evolutionary changes, the updates look very good in person. Subtle, to be sure, but very nicely integrated in my opinion. The slightly massaged front and rear bumpers on both cars look more aggressive, the headlights hint at those found on the sublime Carerra GT, and the rear taillights (integrating LED’s for the first time) are quite sharp in person. The twin tailpipes on the S models are also a nice touch.
The major differences in the new cars are found in the completely revised engines, with direct fuel injection (DFI) being employed on the S models, and the fantastic new Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission available in all variants. Other Gen II updates include revised suspension tuning, adjustments to the springs, shocks, and anti-roll bar, and minor tweaks to the interior appointments comprising optional heated and cooled seats, a black finish to the center console in place of the silver previously there, and other minor tweaks. A further much appreciated addition is the inclusion of a touch screen command center for the new CDR-30 and PCM 3.0 audio navigation and communication systems. Options with these units, depending on which is chosen, now include XM® Satellite Radio and NavTraffic®, Bluetooth®, and iPod®/iPhone®, USB, and AUX integration. The Boxster and Cayman have at last arrived in the age of communications!
Obviously the most vital detail of the new models is the introduction of all-new engines in both the Gen II base model and S variants. While the base model does not receive DFI, it does acquire a displacement bump from 2.7 to 2.9 liters. There are a host of mechanical revisions in the new engine including lighter alloy construction, greater rigidity through a simplified design, and fewer overall moving parts. Fewer parts result in less rotating mass and allows quicker response to throttle inputs - always a desirable trait in a sports car. Horsepower in the base engine is bumped to 255 hp in the Boxster and 265 hp in the Cayman. Similarly, the torque increases to 214 lb.-ft. and 221 lb.-ft., respectively. For the base Boxster, this represents an increase of 10 hp and 13 lb.-ft. of torque over the outgoing model, while for the Cayman the increase is 20 hp and 20 lb.-ft. of torque. Complimenting mechanical revisions similar to those on the 2.9 liter engine, the S model cars now employ DFI to a huge effect. Not only is power increased by 15 hp in the Boxster S and 25 hp in the Cayman S – along with corresponding increases of 15 lb.-ft. and 22 lb.-ft. respectively – but the engines, in combination with PDK, also achieve an improvement in gas mileage of 2 mpg in both City and Highway driving. The new Cayman S, for instance, is rated at 20 mpg City and 29 mph Highway. People are often surprised Porsche cars get such good mileage, but it’s something long-time owners have always known. I will add two minor notes to this engine summary based on my observations of the new cars while up on a lift at the Tech Session. First, the headers on the new engines are works of smooth and equal-length tuned art compared to the relatively tortured pieces on the earlier 987 models. Surely there are some efficiency gains in these new headers! Also, it appears the oil filter has been moved to a somewhat less accessible location. It’s a minor gripe, but it’s something I noticed as a do-it-yourself guy. So enough fluff – let’s commence to drivin’!My test vehicle was a Carrara White Cayman S with PDK, Sport Chrono, Nav, and a few other goodies. On first inspection, sitting in the car was no different than sitting in mine; everything felt right and everything was in its proper place. With a closer look, the small details of the Gen II started to reveal themselves – the new PDK-equipped sport steering wheel with the paddle shifters (and a subtle, but trick, nod to racing with the flat bottom), the center console look and arrangement, and some small revisions to the stitching in the leather on the center dash and other areas. Even the window switches have been slightly revised.
Upon starting the car, the first thing you notice is the sound coming from the new DFI engine sitting just off your right shoulder is a bit different. The sound of the exhaust has changed as well, and in my opinion has moved in the direction of a more exotic sound, which is a good thing. Pull the center console mounted PDK lever down into drive – it’s not REALLY an automatic, right? – and away you go. At first, I kept the transmission in the “Auto” mode to see what that was like. It’s quite good, actually, with shifts coming on very smoothly (to the point you have to look at the tach to know they’ve happened if you are not accelerating hard) while holding on to near redline if you jab deeply into the go-pedal. Simply cruise down the road, however, and you’ll find you are in seventh gear by the time you hit 45 mph. This is assuredly good for fuel mileage ratings.After letting the mechanical bits warm up, it was time to move the PDK lever over to the left into manual operation mode and hit the “Sport” button on the lower dash for some more serious driving. When shifting the PDK in manual mode, you have two options. You can shift with the gear lever – forward to upshift, back to downshift – or you can use the paddles built into the steering wheel at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. Porsche has chosen to arrange the paddles such that pressing them from the front causes an upshift, and pulling them forward from behind a downshift. Some folks are reportedly upset by this arrangement as it counters other similar systems on the market, but after a very short while it became second nature. The first thing I discovered was PDK will hold redline in any given gear as long as you’d like when in “Sport” mode, except 7th, which you cannot access. Oh yeah, that’s fun!
A simple tap of the paddle will bring an upshift or downshift so quick, clean, and smooth you wonder why you spent all those hours contorting your knees and ankles learning to heel-toe. (Author’s confession: I’ve always been a manual gear-box guy, but I’m not very good at heel-toe. I know there are plenty of purists out there who will forever resist a manu-matic transmission whether it’s called PDK or anything else, but I’ll say the possible advantages of this system in a track setting were crystal clear to me in just a few moments.) PDK is absolutely seamless and it is astonishing how quickly stupid-fast speeds arrive on the digital speedo at the bottom of the tach. I love everything about my Cayman, and it is a seriously quick car, but PDK and 25 additional horsepower truly turns the Gen II Cayman S into as amazing a “point-and-shoot” car as I’ve ever driven. On a nice twisty bit of road, driving the car very quickly and smoothly was incredibly easy. Feed in the gas on the straights, squeeze the brakes on approach to the turn, tap the paddles a time or two to drop down into the desired gear, turn in, and roll on the throttle as you straighten the wheel. There is no need to lift during gear changes. You can repeat this process as often as necessary with the grin on you face and your confidence increasing with every turn. The additional horsepower and torque is quite noticeable and seems to be very nicely spread across the entire rpm range. To me the most amazing thing about PDK is you can tap the paddles as quickly and as often as you’d like, and end up in the gear best suited to engine and vehicle speed. In other words, if you are blasting down the back straight on your favorite track at 130 mph in 5th gear and brake hard for the turn while tapping the paddles four times in a second and slowing to 60 mph, it’s going to make sure you are in 2nd gear and not in 1st as the four downshifts you requested would have called for. This saves you from the dreaded “money shift” and insures the resultant downshift will occur with utter smoothness and without unsettling the car at such a critical spot on the track. There is no doubt in my mind I would be consistently quicker on the track in a PDK-equipped car. Is there a touch less driver involvement? Yes. Is there a loss of the satisfaction of the perfect throttle blip and heel-toe gear shift? Yes. Would I get around the track faster? Yes. Do I care a computer does a good bit of the work on its own for me? Not as much as I thought I would when I saw how fun it could be!The only issue I had with the PDK was in several instances I tapped the gear change lever down to downshift, and then nearly simultaneously the palm of one of my hands would hit the steering wheel paddle as I turned the wheel and asked for an upshift. This confused the transmission and caused the car to stutter a bit. I’m sure with a bit of practice I’d learn to avoid it, but I feel the need to point out a potential issue with an otherwise brilliant system. Another item that struck me immediately was the stopping power of the brakes. Porsche brakes are justifiably legendary, and the brakes on my 2008 Cayman S are no exception. The Gen II Boxster/Cayman S do not have larger brakes than my model (though the base models now receive the same size brakes as the S models), but they now include a pre-load system which senses the need for braking and moves the pads close to the rotors for reduced response time as well as a brake assist system which increases braking force in hard stops. It seemed to me these improvements to the braking system made a noticeable difference on the road in shortened stopping distances and produced an even more positive pedal feel.Several reports have noted the steering effort is lighter on the Gen II cars, and while this may be the case, I did not notice a difference in back-to-back drives with my car and the demo car. For my part, I think the amazing accuracy and feel of the Gen I steering remains. I swear I can clip a reflector in the road during a lane change and not only know for sure which tire hit it, but whether I touched the inner portion of the tire or the outer. The feedback is that good, in my opinion, and I didn’t detect any loss of sensitivity in the new car. Think the car where you want it to go, and there you are - no substitute.As I noted earlier, Porsche has also tweaked the suspension of the new cars. I found the ride quality comparable to my car, though the comparison is not apples-to-apples. While both the test car and mine ride on 18” wheels and tires, my Cayman has PASM while the test car did not. To me the ride in the Gen II felt a bit more supple and composed over rough surfaces, so I’ll say progress has been made in this area as well. Again noting other reviews I have read, some folks say the new cars ride just as well on 19” wheels and tires as 18”. If that is indeed the case, the Porsche suspension engineers have put their time and research effort to good use in this department. Finally, I would note I found the interior noise level of the Gen II car to be somewhat higher than in my 2008 model. This was a bit of a surprise, and others may not agree with me. This opinion may be due more to a different quality of sound from the DFI engine and revised exhaust, or simply a testament to just how much damage I have done to my ears over the years. It is nowhere near intrusive, and a normal conversation can be conducted at speed without issue, but a bit more engine and road noise do seem to enter the cockpit. I’ve always been the kind of owner who buys a new car every ten years whether I need one or not, so I’m not likely to go out and replace my one-year old Cayman S with a Gen II model. If, however, I was currently in the market for a sports coupe I would note many car pundits consider the Boxster and Cayman to be the best available in the world today. Don’t take my word for it though - head out to your local dealer and take one for a drive. After all is said and done, you just may reach the same conclusion I have that the Cayman (Gen I or Gen II) is a Saint with a twinkle in its eye – and as some of us are lucky enough to know that is the best possible personality for a car.In closing, I’d like to thank the kind folks at Leith Porsche in Cary (Charlie Schieren and Roy Roth), Performance Porsche in Chapel Hill (Daniel Brunty), and Porsche of Fayetteville (Bill Anderson) for their time, technical support in making sure I got the details on the vehicles correct, letting me drive their cars, and overall friendliness in speaking with me and helping me with this article. I greatly appreciate your assistance. I’d also like to mention the wealth of information available at PlanetPorsche.Net for anyone looking for an outstanding on-line resource on everything Porsche and to participate in a fantastic virtual community.

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