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Old 12-31-2009, 12:50 PM   #1
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2010 Cayman S vs 2010 Carrera S

Just got back from the dealership test driving the Cayman S, Carrera S manual and PDK. First is was a wet cold day, not perfect for sports car driving but actually a good day to test models capabilities since the grip was not there as it is on dry pavement.

Some observations about what I drove.

First, for me the PDK is a no go. I really wanted to like it, I like the sophistication of it and the engineering but in reality it was a big let down. On the Carrera S models I drove. It turned all 385 hp into a boring grocery getter.

In normal mode it did just like every other automatic in history and got to the highest gear possible regardless of conditions.

In sport mode it shifted quickly and positively but I found the switches on the wheel both confusing and although I did not downshift accidentally, I could see how that would happen in the future. Over rev is a real possibility with the current wheel mounted buttons.

As for the PDK/tiptronic shifting on the gearshift lever, it is the same as in my Range Rover and frankly it is out of place given the difference between the two vehicles. Useless for the most part in my opinion.

Also when concentrating on traffic, it is easy to lose track of what gear you are in and finding the number displayon the dash is difficult when simply touching the manual lever tells you exactly which gear you are in without taking your eyes off the road.

I drove the Cayman S first to get a baseline for the 911 and to see the differences between it and the 986 Boxster I have. I expected it to be quicker than the boxster but I was totally blown away by the quickness of this vehicle. This is one surprising little bugger.

It was very neutral on the wet pavement and had an amazing amount of grip. The power was smooth and when you floor it, it kicks you in the backside and you are no longer where your were but well on you way to someplace else. I was truly impressed with the power and finesse of the Cayman S. It got my heart rate up and gave me that satisfying adrenaline rush that comes from a car exceeding your expectations.

I really like the rear cargo area of the Cayman and the Navi, bluetooth, satellite, electronic gizmos and heated seats are fantastic. After the BS radio of the Boxster, I was pleased to see executive level appointments.
I found a lot of headroom and the interior was very comfortable.

As for my dislikes about the Cayman, the biggest concern is the lack of visability. As with the boxster (but worse), you really have to double check all the mirrors and look left and right to get a sense of what is going on around you. I am sure that given time I would get used to it but driving on the highway was harder than it should have been.

The Carrera S manual was next. First, I like the driving position more and the visability is much better than in the Cayman. The interior is damned near perfect. The vehicle I drove had the short shift option so the throw on the gearbox was noticably shorter. I did not like the short shift, I never felt like I had the box in gear and every time I let out the clutch, I was worried that it was going to pop out of gear. Not that it did but I am used to the boxster shifter.

The power was smooth and predictable, the car had good manners and was easy to drive. But on the curves, I never had the confidence to push the corner as hard in the wet conditions as I did in the Cayman. In spite of the Carrera being notorious for oversteer, it felt like it wanted to understear in the wet. Also it never kicked me in the ass like the Cayman did. Not that the power is not there but my feeling was if I did give too much power, I would be spinning off the road into an insurance nightmare.

If I was looking for a daily driver/weekend racer then the Carrera S is the car to buy. I could see going on long trips in it and errands and normal driving stuff are all easy and then you have the performance when you want it. For the most part we spend 95% of our time in a car doing stuff like turning at stop lights and driving in traffic at the speed limit. Don't get me wrong, it is a big boy car no doubt about it.

The reason I am looking at a new Porsche is because I want a car that does nothing more than put a smile on my face. I have a daily driver and want something that will excite me.

In my case I think it is the Cayman S. It is less practical, harder to get in and out of, you can't see out as well and you will never forget you are in a sports car. Of course the $40k savings over the Carrera S ain't to shabby either. I am truly surprised because that is not what I though going into the dealership. I was thinking Carrera S all the way.

Cheers!

Last edited by landrovered; 12-31-2009 at 12:57 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:39 PM   #2
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Thanks for the review.

I have to believe that someone who's looking for the more rewarding road driving experience would shy away from the PDK and choose the involvement of a clutch pedal. But what do I know, the newest Ferraris don't even come with a manual anymore.

What about the driving position is different between the Carrera and Cayman? I thought they were essentially the same car up to the front seats.

What is the current Boxster that you're driving? How does the Cayman compare as far as mechanical communication to your Boxster?

The latest Car and Driver compares the PDK Carrera S and Cayman S on Virginia International Raceway and both return the exact same lap times, which goes to show how well balanced the mid-engine layout is.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:53 PM   #3
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The cayman and boxster have the driver in a more recumbant position over the 911 and with the motor directly behind you, it feels more like you are "in" the car, the cabin of the 911 is more spacious, the glass is further away and you sit higher up off the road. There is more room between the seats or at least it feels like it to me. Put it this way, I would drive my mother in the 911 but she could never get in the cayman.

Mechanically the feel of the cayman was just like the boxster (I have a 98) but it felt more planted due to much wider tires and being new it was much tighter. I am pleased that no alarm bells went off concerning the integrity of the boxster. Even though it is older, it is solid.

The biggest difference is the level of modernity and comfort, the boxster we have is Spartan compared with the new gadget laden model.

And lastly, the 345 hp in the cayman kicks the old boxsters butt pretty convincingly. It is amazing!
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Old 12-31-2009, 03:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landrovered

In sport mode it shifted quickly and positively but I found the switches on the wheel both confusing and although I did not downshift accidentally, I could see how that would happen in the future. Over rev is a real possibility with the current wheel mounted buttons.
Cheers!


Thanks for the review. Just FYI, you can't over-rev a PDK equipped car. The computer won't serve up the gear you're asking for if it will over-rev the engine. I always thought of myself as a stick shift guy (both my cars are sticks) but after doing a lot of autocross and some track time last year I think PDK is the way I would go now. I think PDK is the better choice if someone intends on doing a good deal of track time. Rev matching and heel and toe is pretty easy for me to do on the street and I've practiced so much I now do it everytime I drive, but out on the track the "three pedal shuffle" is difficult because I can't generate enough braking force with only half my foot on the brake and a foot could slip off the brake pedal which could be potentially very bad.
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Last edited by Adam; 12-31-2009 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 01-01-2010, 12:56 PM   #5
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It's too bad prices have come down so much on boxsters because your '98 may only cover tax/reg on a new cayman S. And then you have to consider whether the additional $60k+ really buys that much more car. Alternatively, if I were to blow all of $60k+ improving my '01S, I wouldn't know what to do.

Thanks for the story. You had me dreaming there for a while.
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Old 01-01-2010, 04:14 PM   #6
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I have an 08 Cayman S....... absolutely no regrets. Still puts a smile on my face every time I drive it!
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Old 01-01-2010, 04:33 PM   #7
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Good review.
The Cay is definitely more "pure sports car" where the 911 is more refined. I have never been completely comfortable with that whole "tail wags the dog" 911 sensation, even with modern nanny controls. Both are truly world class cars.

So how do I convince my wife that I need to keep the 98 Boxster for track days and drive a new Cay PDK for street legal joy????
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Old 01-02-2010, 09:56 AM   #8
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What I did was buy the 98 for my wife. She lets me drive it when I want to but it is her daily driver. She is happy happy happy with it. Now she does not squirm when I go to the porsche dealership. She actually supports me in getting one for me. Of course when the 98 dies then it is into the garage it goes for a track day conversion. She can drive the Cayman S if I have a weekend racer at my disposal whenever I want it. I am happy as well. Of course I did hear her mention something about his and hers caymans. I would not be opposed to that idea either.

The key is get something for the wife first, then you do not appear to be selfish.
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:36 AM   #9
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At one point the girlfriend and I were going to buy his and her Boxsters..... After I test drove the cayman S I had to have it. She bought her Boxster S and I bought my Cayman S within 2 days of each other. People think we are nuts that we have (2) two seaters...... They don't have as muchfun with there cars as we do with ours...
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