November 23, 2012 11:41 AM |
Posted By: Stephen Dobie
Rated 3.8 out of 5.0 by 4 members
Random car stuff
Spend an indecent amount of miles driving nigh on any car and you'll end up warming to it. Complete a 3500-mile road trip in one that’s rather good and you'll end up loving it. It's a conclusion I honed during a mega road trip holiday back in September when, lacking an evo long-termer, I gave my chums at Porsche a call and got acquainted with the Cayman.
The second-gen Cayman arrives soon, yet the mk1 hasn’t completely won car enthusiast’s hearts. Lacking the romance and heritage of a 911 and without the open-top thrills of its Boxster cousin, it seems to sit in a bit of a no-man’s land.
As me and my pal Rob brainstormed cars for a trip to southern Italy, however, it quickly established itself as the only contender. We wanted something fast on the Autobahn, fun on Alpine pass detours and glamorous enough to warrant pouring half a month’s earnings into its petrol tank. Being away for nine days, though, boot space and mpg were inconvenient priorities. Porsche’s little ‘un swiftly became our solitary jack-of-all-trades contender.
I’ll admit to being underwhelmed when we first picked it up though. In resale-friendly silver and without the lairy graphics of the hardcore R, our basic 2.9 manual looked a little, well, dull. It proved anything but, though. We entered Italy via eight countries, deviating from motorways to take in passes the pair of us had pined to visit and even sidling up to the house of the Stuttgart horse’s arch rival.
The weather made conditions at the Stelvio Pass perfect…
…although its unique traffic jam didn’t
The Raticosa and Futa passes - steeped in Mille Miglia history - are truly awesome
Biker’s haunt, the San Bernadino, proved to be Rob’s favourite
The Cayman is spectacularly well balanced, and while ‘handles like an Elise’ is bordering on motoring journalism’s most overbearingly used cliché, it’s apt here. The Porsche is so easy to read and changes direction so intuitively that we quickly stopped fretting about the chassis beneath us and focused on enjoying and learning some of the world’s great roads. Handy when climbing a part-resurfaced mountain road at night, only some apologetic string separating you from an Italian Job ending.
That wasn’t the difference between ‘like’ and ‘love’, though. No. The most impressive thing about the Cayman was its ability to swallow two growing boys, their ridiculous amounts of luggage (including Rob’s questionable green trousers) and then storm the Autobahn – hitting a 171mph high – while averaging an indicated 28.1mpg over 3446 miles through England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Lichtenstein, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.
It was comfy and refined and its stereo didn’t protest during the John Barnes rapping interlude when we played New Order’s World in Motion. Yet on more challenging roads, its friendly chassis and slightly torque-light (but exquisitely soundtracked) engine allowed us to wind it up and confidently explore its limits.
After covering nine countries in nine days, I can fully imagine driving one every day and rarely wishing for another car. A colleague from a rival magazine ran a long-term Cayman 2.9 and apparently seriously considered buying it from Porsche. I now know why.