Porsche Cayman R Review: Putting The R Back Into Road-Legal Race Car

Under the hood

One thing’s for sure; the Porsche Cayman R is an absolute weapon. It shares the same 3.4-litre flat six engine – in the middle of the car, of course – as the Porsche Boxster S, a car we dubbed ‘the best (reasonably priced) drop-top sports car money can buy’.

In the Cayman R, that means we’ve got 311bhp to play with, giving this coupe a top speed of 172mph, with 62mph demolished in 5.2sec. With the optional (and less manly) PDK ‘box that number drops to 5.0sec, but we’d take a leathery six-speed knob any day of the week.

Behind the wheel

Before we get into the sexy sideways stuff, there’s something I need to get off my chest. I’m a short arse. And the Cayman R’s sports seats aren’t designed for people of my stumpy persuasion. The chairs don’t recline (I feel I’m sitting too close to the wheel), they’re not particularly comfortable and they’re bloody narrow up top. And breathe…

With a twist of the key and a prod of our £1,465 optional sports exhaust button, however, my seating issues are forgotten. The mid-mounted motor jumps to life with a pleasing burst of revs, before settling at a gratifying flat six growl.

CT Poll: Porsche Cayman R vs Audi TT RS Plus

Out on the road, the first thing you notice about the lightweight Cayman R – except the fact that people look at you and think you’re an utter boss (or tool, I can never tell which) – is that this is a car that let’s you get on with life without much hand-holding. Getting out of shape on a straight but greasy road is something you won’t experience in a Boxster S, but quickly concentrates the mind in the Cayman R.

The next thing you’ll realise is how well the R copes with Britain’s crap tarmac. Despite bad-boy black 19s, lowered suspension (22mm closer to the ground than the Cayman S) and tougher springs, the Cayman R manages to smooth out road acne better than ‘Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action’. Granted the Cayman R will plant a kiss on most speed bumps with its diffuser, but potholes won’t result in a hernia operation.

But enough about what this stripped-out Cayman is like to drive amongst road-going plebs. The R’s a crafted track weapon first, so if it’s alright with you, we’ll do some hot laps now.

Yup, that’s more like it. Out here on Porsche’s own tarmac, this super sports car really comes to life. The six speed gearbox is fantastic – notchy, pretty heavy and bloody quick – which lets you pile on the revs through each gear effortlessly.

The Cayman R’s turn-in is masterful, too. Because it’s firmer than the S, you’ll get slightly more understeer at lower speed, so there’s only one thing for it; man up, pump the throttle and explore the R’s perfect weight distribution via some sexy sideways action.

Push the Cayman R on its natural grip limit, however, and the car hangs on like peanut butter on the roof of your mouth, while superb steering feel keeps the driver’s talent in check.

Acceleration is naturally brutal – this car only weighs 1295kg – meaning that the R doesn’t just propel you out of a corner, rather hurls you out of one like a solid backhand to the face. The sports exhaust chat adds to the drama of each gear change and encourages a cheeky blip of the throttle with every downshift. We like!

Splash the cash?

The Porsche Cayman R is a heady mix of precision, brutality, balance and excitement, and for that reason it heads the Car Throttle table as our favourite super-coupe.

It’s not as quick in a straight line as an Audi TT RS Plus – a car that shares the same £52,000 starting price – but it’s more delicate, better balanced and with all that meat going through the rear wheels, the more fun car to hoon on track.

CT Poll: Porsche Cayman R vs Audi TT RS Plus

Porsche Cayman R Review: Putting The R Back Into Road-Legal Race Car, 9.0 out of 10 based on 10 ratings

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Spec

Model Porsche Cayman R
BHP 311 bhp
0-62mph 5.2 secs
Top Speed 172 mph
Weight 1295 kg
MPG 29.7 mpg
CO2 221 g/km
Price £51,773; £65,117 as tested

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