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Cayman R

Today Porsche announced the Cayman R. A car that had been rumoured about for months now, with endless speculation regarding what they might do. I have to admit I was quite excited, mainly because of what they'd done with the Spyder.

The Spyder got new doors of aluminium, a bespoke double-humped bootlid with a really quite nice fixed spoiler, new aggressive front bumper and a diffuser clad rear. It got it's own suspension set up for compliancy and handling. It got it's own wheels that were lighter than any other 19" wheels they make. On top of that they re-valved the steering to improve feel, put the motor out of the Cayman S in there to up the power by 20hp and fitted an LSD as standard. Inside too it gained GT3 seats as standard and some nifty styling bits. On top of this they pulled even more weight out of the car by not fitting air-con or a radio, making the fuel tank smaller and fitting a comedy roof. All in all, you were looking at a significant 80kg saving over a Boxster S. Or, if you like, a fat bloke. They nipped, tucked and tweaked every little part of it to perfection.

a Spyder earlier

All of this came together to make a very special car, one that not only looks special but is very special. I'll even forgive them for not fitting the sports exhaust as standard as it's the single only thing they missed from the spec and that's easily sorted.

This is why I'm sat here disappointed. I was hoping they'd give the Cayman the same treatment. To be honest I thought they might even give it the same nose and rear from the Spyder to make the more focused models stand out. I even did some mock ups in Photoshop to see what that'd look like, and I liked what I saw.

what the Cayder Spyman would have looked like if I'd had any say in it

Unfortunately what they've done is a Cayman S parts bin special. Same bodywork, but with the aero-kit added (which I personally think is horrible). The engine gains 10hp though better flowing cats and a re-map (thankfully it still manages to keep just below the magic 225 carbons). The biggest weight savings come from the doors (15kgs), which are aluminium from the Spyder. The seats (12kgs), the same GT3 sourced buckets, a smaller fuel tank and the removal of air-con (12kgs). Which in a coupe you need to put back. It's not an option. The radio delete saves knob all. When you put the a/c and radio back, you're looking at a 40kg reduction overall. Or, if you like, a little girl.

the full horror of what they actually released (yes this was the launch colour)

The rumours about a lightweight rear hatch with Lexan back window have come to naught. The 'clubsport pack' with a cage? nada. The ducktail spoiler? nope. All the things that would have helped make it special. Instead they've ticked a few options, painted a few things black and pinched some bits from the Spyder. It must have taken them all of 5 minutes in a meeting to come up with it.

Now don't get me wrong, if you want a Cayman S with all the bits they've stuck on the Cayman R, you'd buy a Cayman R. Like the Spyder vs the Boxster S, it is actually cheaper when you tot it all up. Also, with the Spyder bits on it, I suspect it'll drive brilliantly. But is it special enough? At this point I'm not sure it is and it's why I'll now be keeping the Cayman and waiting for a couple of years for Spyder with low milage that's already taken it's biggest depreciation hit.

However, all that being said, I'm an enthusiast and Porsche are a business. I naively hoped they might unleash a bit of the Cayman's potential here and was even putting money aside in case they did. As it stands though, it's simply not going to be as exciting as it's lidless sister car. It'll lack that extra sensation you get from open air motoring and without the extra ooomph to compensate, seem a little dull in comparison. Had they stuck the 400hp lump in from the Carrera GTS, and badged it a Cayman GTS (so as to keep it relevant and not to annoy the purists like the R badge does), this would have been an epic machine, even with the lack of imagination that went into styling it.

I'm sure they have a very well thought out business plan/model with exactly where every model sits in the range and how they can maximise sales. As it stands it has cost them nothing to develop and will sell to people who want an ever so slightly more cooking S. A win/win for Porsche. It would be daft for them to do anything else. But, there is no passion there. There's no enthusiasm. Just pure German efficiency.

I suppose I'd like them to be more like Lotus, who are ironically trying to be more like Porsche these days. Then again neither company can make the product that I want to buy. Porsche had the opportunity to get damn close to it with the R, it's a great shame.

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