So should you upgrade to the S?
Tricky one. The upgrade costs £9,089 (from £39,694 to 48,783) and if you'd never driven the 3.4 I think you'd be perfectly content with the 2.7. However, you'd always be keeping a watchful eye out for determined hot hatches in the 2.7, while in the S, which uses a detuned version of the entry-level 911's 3.4-litre flat six, you'd know you had them covered. It's quick (0-62mph in 5.0 seconds), notably more energetic and punchier across the rev range. And it too sounds glorious, a real rich rasp, full of intent and intoxication.
Good. Now what about those causes for concern you mentioned earlier?
It's chiefly the steering. In any other car I wouldn't bother to mention it, but because the Cayman is so exceptional in other areas, the new electro-hydraulic steering sticks in the craw slightly. It's perfectly weighted, beautifully accurate, but there's this bit in the press pack where it says, ‘negative or unnecessary noise is filtered out' and I have a feeling that some of what's been filtered out would have been better left in. It's the same with the new 911: the steering is consistent and you know exactly where you are with it, but the electro-mechanical set-up lacks the last little bit of tingle and fizz that a hydraulic power steering system offers. The old Cayman's wheel used to jiggle and writhe a bit on bumpy roads, let you know about the surface, the camber and everything. This one doesn't do that as effectively. You feel it through the chassis as much as you do the steering. It's a small point, but one worth making.
True. But is this one better to live with?
Undoubtedly. There's a faint impression that the Cayman is now aimed at a broader, less specialist customer base, and the Cayman, even as a manual, is blissfully easy to drive. There's no challenge here, it's a perfectly refined and quiet cruiser that would handle long range weekends away with aplomb, (even the S manages 32.1mpg, giving a 452-mile range) and the twin boot set-up (150 litres in the nose, a maximum of 275 in the tail) gives it decent practicality. As long as you don't need to pack a pushchair or something. But then junior won't be accompanying you and your good lady in a Cayman anyway.
Quite right too.
Agreed. The trouble is though, I think it's the practical elements of the Cayman that have taken the greatest leap forward: the cabin design and quality are truly superb and dynamically it's the quietness, smoothness and composure that have most obviously moved the game on from the previous car. Don't get me wrong, the Cayman handles joyously and if you really take it by the scruff and hurl it down a good, tight, twisting road, it really knows how to engage and excite in a way that no rival this side of the far more compromised Lotus Exige can manage. I'd have one over an Audi TT RS or BMW M3/Z4 35i, and the base 335bhp Jaguar F-Type is going to have to watch its footing, priced as it is. This is a great car, one that's grown up and expanded its repertoire without losing the essence of what it means to be a mid-engined, driver-focussed Porsche. Yes, I'm a tad disappointed by the steering, but I'd happily, happily live with it and probably think no more of it after a month or so.
So, what's the final verdict?
9/10. Call it 9.5 in manual S guise. Want one badly.