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There is a tough decision for those in the market for a Porsche Cayman. For similar money, one can purchase a used 2006 to 2008 Cayman S or a new 2009 non-S Cayman. So, which is a better way to spend $45,000? That is the question I set out to answer last weekend.

Porsche significantly updated the Cayman and Cayman S for 2009 - enough so to brand them Generation 2 models. The Cayman increased in displacement from 2.7 to 2.9 liters - yielding a 20 horsepower and 4 ft-lb torque gain. More importantly, the new engine provides better fuel economy and doesn’t include the dreaded intermediate shaft - a major reliability problem for GEN 1 cars. I neglected to test the new Cayman S for fear of falling so deeply in love with its 320 hp badass self that I’d prostitute myself to afford the thing. The new “S” is still north of $60,000.





White New. Yellow Old.

Exterior enhancements for the GEN 2 models include new head and taillights with LED integration, new front and rear bumpers, and wheel choices. Inside, one will find a more ergonomically-friendly center stack for the radio and climate controls. Its fresh appearance makes the GEN 1’s center stack look cheap. Also, Porsche finally brought the Cayman electronically up-to-date by offering such “exotic” options as Bluetooth, iPod integration, and Satellite radio.



Left New. Right Old.


The original Cayman still looks sexy and fast. However, when parked next to the new model, the GEN 2 looks more modern - especially from the front. If the GEN 1 Cayman looks sexy, the GEN 2 Cayman looks stunning. Since I’ve never been hung up on horsepower, the new, “stunning” GEN 2 Cayman must be the one for me. Case closed, right?




Itching to drive the new GEN 2 car, I drove to the local dealership in my trusty 2002 Cobalt Blue Boxster S with my best friend, Purple. After having to approach a salesman (those ageist buttheads!), I got the keys to a 2010 Carrara white, over grey leather Cayman 2.9L

After starting the car, I sat for a few moments taking in the surroundings. The cabin is much less claustrophobic than my Boxster's. The open rear truck area and big rear window really 'er up. It’s also made up of much nicer materials. The new center stack (this car didn’t have Nav) was as great to look at as it was to touch. The new, larger side mirrors offer a much better view of what is beside/behind you.

I encountered my first shock when trying to exit the dealership. The steering. My lord, the steering. It was light. I didn’t know Porsche turned the Cayman into a VW Golf. Ok, it wasn’t as light as a VW, but I was disappointed to say the least. Luckily, once on the road, the steering tightened up and there was still plenty of communication with the front tires. The clutch take up on the new Cayman was different than my car. It took me many 1-2 shifts to not snap Purple’s neck.

After getting over the steering, I turned my attention to the ride. The 18 inchers made for a comfortable ride. Compared to my 986 with 18s and my mom’s 997 with 19s, this Cayman absorbed Austin’s horrible roads without a problem. Potholes and road undulations that would make my 986 jar and moan went unnoticed in the new Cayman. Nice. But, did it have an affect on the handling? After a few medium and tight corners, I can gladly say “no”. The new Cayman had grip that my 986 would be jealous of. It also exhibited less understeer than my 986. The way in which the Cayman turned in made me want to chuck it all over the place.

While tossing the new Cayman around corners, I made sure to assess the engine. This engine requires a lot of shifting to stay in the powerband. I found myself downshifting to second gear in situations in which I’d leave my Boxster S in third. Coming out of tight corners in second gear, I’d really have to dip into the throttle more than I’d prefer. Now, the engine has plently of power, but coming from my car, I felt the 2.9L was working too hard. Instead of enticing me to push the car, it had the personality of, “This is fun, but please stop”. Strangely, below 5,000 RPM the cabin was silent. For many people, this engine provides sufficient power. And, perhaps, if I were not coming from a Boxster S, I wouldn’t have such a ho-hum reaction to the new 2.9L. As an aside, the new Cayman exhibited the rear-latch noise I thought was fixed in the GEN 2 models.

Exchanging the new 2.9L Cayman for a 2007 Cayman S with 25,000 miles, I was excited to see if I’d notice the extra 30 horsepower and 37 torques. Inside Speed yellow Cayman S, my eyes affixed to the old grey radio and climate controls on the center stack. The PCM screen is desperately needed to mitigate the ugliness.

The differences between the new 2.9L Cayman the old “S” started with a twist of the key. The engine puttered and coughed to life, followed by awesome mechanical noises that sounded familiar. While maneuvering the S through the dealer’s lot I noticed the heavier steering – much more appropriate for a Porsche. Getting out on the road, the presence of extra engine noise in the cabin was a welcome change compared to the quieter 2.9L. The sound was not only louder but also more ferocious. Above 4,000 RPM the 3.4L became alive with power all the way to the redline. If the 2.9L said “Ok, enough already. I’m tired,” this 3.4L said, “C’mon, push me!” It wanted to play. It was coaxing me to! Even with the same-sized wheels and tires, the “S” rode firmer than the 2.9L. I’m not an expert, so I’m not sure of the exact differences in the suspensions. Handling and braking between the two seemed identical. I didn’t want to return the S. Ok, the only reason why I did so was because the yellow gauges were nauseating.

I wanted to like the new 2.9L Cayman better going into this comparison. I love the looks and the ease of modern technology integration. But, the car is too muted for me. It’s too removed from the Porsche experience I’m used to. At 60 MPH in sixth gear, the 2.9L Cayman is quieter than a Lexus LS. Ok, it’s not, but you get my point. I didn’t like having to drive the #### out of the 2.9L to derive enjoyment out of it.

The “old” Cayman S made me smile. It made me want to be naughty in a way the more refined 2.9L didn’t. Now, I doubt my conclusion will match the majority, especially if one hasn’t driven a 3.2L or 3.4L engined Porsche. With that said, I’m starting my search for a slightly used Cayman S. Color? Cobalt blue, of course.

:cheers:
 

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Nice write-up Matt. Glad you found this board. You will fit in great here. I'm sure you will find a nice Cayman. Still love my AS CS.

Norm
 

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Nice write up. Very descriptive and I think you're right, the S is for you--not taking anything away from the 2.9 (or 2.7 for that matter). Good luck in finding the right S for you. I think your color choice is, ahem, righteous!
BW
 

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So basically the Thousands of Gen I owners got the shaft and should be trading in their cars for Gen II then. Just kidding.:hilarious:

What were Purple's reactions besides getting neck snapped a few times?

You have some comparisons with driving which is good because at the end of the day - it is about driving and response you need from the car. So once you get down to the objectivity of seat of the pants driving, shifting, cornering, accelerating, and braking - Cayman S.

I found a gently used 2006 Cayman S with Sport Chrono and short shifter does the trick for me for the cash I had. Adapted the Bose stereo system with an iPod interface and had my own music when needed. Otherwise Flat 6 Symphony constantly playing.

Good luck.
 

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Is there really that noticeable a difference in steering from the GenI to GenII cars? That's news to me -- I didn't think they'd made any change there. I drove both (and bought a GenII) and although there was admittedly some time between those drives, I didn't recall any immediate difference in the steering feel. My GenII doesn't feel especially light to me.
 

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Well if up to me I would get the Gen 2 Cayman over the Gen 1 Cayman S....that is exactly what I did....for many reasons...to me a better daily driver...I don't do DE...and hopefully Porsche has fixed Gen 1 engine problems...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well if up to me I would get the Gen 2 Cayman over the Gen 1 Cayman S....that is exactly what I did....for many reasons...to me a better daily driver...I don't do DE...and hopefully Porsche has fixed Gen 1 engine problems...
Porsche having a fix for the engine problems? LOL, Never. That's what warranties are for. I'd never drive a Porsche without one! :cheers:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Knowing what we know now... If you could go back to 1970...
would you get the 1970 Ford mustang six cylinder, or would you get a used 1964 & 1/2 Mustang with the V8?
Yeah, I'm definitely not old enough to size up that comparison. :hilarious:
 

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Well jeez.. I feel old now.
But I was only 5 in 1970.

I read alot about how Gen2 is better than Gen1...
but in 4 years, new owners will be writing about how the Gen 2 has flaws and shortcomings.

Would I like to have a new CS with PDK & all the bells and whistles... Hell YES!

Jeez.. now I'm conflicted.

Maybe I'll stop by the dealer on the way home tomorrow.
 

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Well if up to me I would get the Gen 2 Cayman over the Gen 1 Cayman S....that is exactly what I did....for many reasons...to me a better daily driver...I don't do DE...and hopefully Porsche has fixed Gen 1 engine problems...
I did exactly the same thing and couldn't be happier with my first porsche, I'll hold onto this one until the mid-mount 911 comes out.
 

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Great assessment! As the owner of a Cobalt Blue last-year Gen I Cayman S, I couldn't agree more! There is something about the feel, sound & feedback of these particular models that keeps you coming back for more! It's uncanny how the Gen I S just wants to be pushed, and the more you push it the more it gives and the more you want! There is something special about the Gen I, it never cries "uncle", never gives any sign of being out of breath, just keeps screaming for redline like that's what it was born to do (and I think it was). I wonder if it will be recoginized as one of the great Porsches one day, but I sure enjoy mine every day now! Thanks for a great objective review. Dave
 

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There is a tough decision for those in the market for a Porsche Cayman. For similar money, one can purchase a used 2006 to 2008 Cayman S or a new 2009 non-S Cayman. So, which is a better way to spend $45,000? That is the question I set out to answer last weekend.
Good write up, but similar money ??? You can get a Gen1 S for substantially less than $45K. 06s are more like 32-36... that's no pocket change...

Now, picture yourself driving the S....how often do you think you'll say to yourself " I wish I had bought the one with the smaller engine" ? Right...

The only reason to do the 2.9 is if you are uncomfortable with less warranty. I've bought no less than 2 boxsters (non S) in the past. I'm never doing that again. 250 lb/ft of torque is my new minimum ;-) Hp means nothing...
 

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the new engine provides better fuel economy and doesn’t include the dreaded intermediate shaft - a major reliability problem for GEN 1 cars.
I thought the intermediate shaft problem was only in the 911's.
 

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I have a Gen I Cayman and my dad has a Gen II Cayman. I've driven them both. Actually, I'm the only one that's driven his since he's in Afghanistan right now. They do feel quite different. My car feels more raw and his feels more refined. They both seem to handle the same. I do notice the power difference between the two. And I haven't made up my mind if I like the 6-speed in the Gen II more or not. I like not havin' to shift as often in my car. Not quite sure if any of this is really relevant, since neither car is an "S" model.
 

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MTCN,

Very nice write-up!

You may want to check out the article I wrote Gen II Cayman/Boxster Review - Articles a while back comparing the Gen I and Gen II CS.

We're in agreement on many points, though not all.

I'm sure you'll enjoy your decision whichever you make! :dance:
 
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