November 23, 2012 11:41 AM  |  Posted By: Stephen Dobie
Rated 3.8 out of 5.0 by 4 members  |  20 Comments  |  24345 Views
Related Categories: Random car stuff | Road trips

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.

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thebrit86 at 5:50 PM December 11, 2012

I love my Cayman S! It's been my only daily driver for the last few years. I would completely agree with this article. It fits everything you could need for a two person trip and it's driving dynamics makes every drive unforgettable. VERY capable car.

lancia888 at 9:55 AM December 2, 2012

The ring was amazing, the hardest part was keeping out of the way of the faster cars. Stayed mainly on the right with the indicator flashing! Looked in the rear view mirror and there was 3 other cars doing the same! The Mrs was hanging on for dear life and the kids shouting to go faster!! Later the Mrs said that she wanted to drive, but we had left by then... Got a sticker and a mug from the petrol station down the road. Would love to go again.

mpc at 9:39 AM November 29, 2012

Good read, and as I'm planning for a few years to do something similar, but from spain to Belgium in an Elise. It's giving a better way of convincing the misses to let me do this.

Stephen Dobie at 12:10 PM November 28, 2012

lancia888: what a fantastic story! Big kudos for that lap - how did the family (and luggage?!) take it?

lancia888 at 7:49 PM November 27, 2012

Finally achieved one of my ambitions this year ,with a continental drive. From County Durham to the 'ring and the down to Nuremberg to visit playmobil world. Covering a total of 2356 miles in 12 days(Week spent in and traveling around Kent) Unfortunately not in something as exotic but a 1.9 diesel Fiat Multipla!. And yes we drove it round the ring with 2 kids Mrs and boot full of luggage! Highly recommended activaty! Great feature as usual EVO.

kellyjones11 at 11:54 AM November 27, 2012

awesome for the tripping..enjoy by reading..

atrax3 at 2:29 PM November 26, 2012

I got my wife a 2007 cayman 2 years ago had 1500 miles on it for 20k. I had doubts due to living in Ohio, where we get 4 seasons. She uses it every day and it has been fantastic. Just put winter tyres on it and it is very sure footed in the snow too. Just wish I could have afforded one when I was back in England, would have been a great B road stormer.

PAFC OK at 7:08 AM November 25, 2012

Cayman S, long been my 'realistic aspiration' car, oh for some "chums at Porsche". Great little blog.

Jdhillon at 12:40 AM November 25, 2012

Is this a manual or pdk? Good to read an article where a unaffordable top of the range model is not driven and instead one which is more common on our roads. Thanks

speedingfine at 11:09 AM November 24, 2012

Superb stuff. Did smtg very similar in 2008... Only I was in a1988 325i :)

articulatedjunk at 12:16 AM November 24, 2012

This car is basically Porsche's version of the NSX, updated and modernized. I don't know why that never gets mentioned. They have the same layout, similar weight, and great handling. The Porsche, being newer, has better brakes. The only thing not to like is that Porsche charges more for the hardtop than the convertible.

Stephen Dobie at 5:16 PM November 23, 2012

IanO: pretty similar, I imagine, save for being a bit more enjoyable on the days it was 28 degrees and sunny!

IanO at 3:26 PM November 23, 2012

Do you think a Boxster would have been better/same/worse?

IanO at 3:22 PM November 23, 2012

Do you think a Boxster would have been better/same/worse?

Stephen Dobie at 2:44 PM November 23, 2012

Knotty: that would still be blooming impressive considering how the car was driven.

Stephen Dobie at 2:44 PM November 23, 2012

Woodwardnl: I think I followed your trip on Instagram!

Knotty at 2:03 PM November 23, 2012

Cracking car (I have a Boxster 2.9 - which adds open air and more exhaust noise to the experience). My car indicates an average of 27.5 mpg - that equates to 25.2mpg if you actually calculate consumption the old fashioned way. If you're computer indicated 28.1 - I reckon you actually averaged about 26mpg......

Woodwardnl at 1:12 PM November 23, 2012

Would love to compare notes! I just completed a trip from Holland through Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland and Italy in a 2006 Cayman S. Highlights included the 16 Alpine passes in between ;-)

jrn at 1:08 PM November 23, 2012

You must have the only job in the world where a holiday involves doing the same thing you do while you work. I'm jealous.

ivan.mico at 12:23 PM November 23, 2012

very nice trip and a good article.

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