Porsche Cayman R: Move Over 911

Categories Porsche, Torque Affair

The Cayman R is the one car that I probably should’ve driven on the track but didn’t!  At least not yet anyway.  I have heard, though, from many people (and I’m sure it’s common knowledge as well), that the Cayman R is one of the best cars to drive around the track and one that people have the most fun with at Harris Hill as part of the Longhorn Racing Academy experience.

Cayman R H2R

I have personally been fixated on acquiring a 996 or a 997, so I was very curious about the Cayman to see if this could satisfy my need for a 911.  Used Caymans are significantly cheaper than 911s for the same year and mileage so I thought that this could be a good substitute.  I was curious about how the Cayman drives and feels as well.

Varun handed me the keys to this green Cayman R, which is a part of their LRA collection, nicknamed “The Frog” and drove the Cayman back to the city from the track.  There were enough twists and turns to experience what the car had to offer thus making it a pretty fun drive inspite of plodding along behind some slow trucks.

Such has become the state of driving these days in Austin.  Mostly I’m stuck behind slow cars or just sitting in traffic.

First impressions

Everything about this car screams “Race Me Now!”

Starting with the door handles…

Cayman R strap

Straps!

These doors are apparently the same as what you’d find in a 997 GT3…but I have to ask – how much more weight would be added if they added a couple of door handles?

This car has cupholders – instead of those, just put in some door handles! 

Everything non-essential has been stripped out for the sake of weight to the point where A/C and a stereo is not standard in the Cayman R.  The “frog” however comes with both.

Cayman interior

Porsche doesn’t do much at all to change their interiors.  I was recently in a 2007 Porsche 911 turbo and the interior looks almost exactly the same.  In fact, the 996 built almost 10 years ago basically has the same interior with very few changes!

It must be really boring to work as a “designer of interiors” at Porsche.  You show up to work every day, and all you do is stare at your existing design – look at it from all angles – deem it to be perfect and then go home.  That is every single work day.

Or if you’re feeling really creative, you move a button up a tenth of an inch in the dash, call it a day and go home.

Because the Cayman R is pretty much a track car, you hear a lot of noise – road noise, wind noise, engine noise, the noise you involuntarily utter as you go over a bump because the suspension is so stiff…

But, you don’t care about any of that because it is so much fun to drive. IMG_1710

Out of the all the Porsches I’ve driven (all two of them, in fact), this Cayman R has the best exhaust note.  It is loud, guttural and augmented by the fact that the engine is right behind your head.

It really is an experience to drive this thing.

The carbon-fiber backed seats with barely any padding were way more comfortable than I initially expected.  The car does have excellent ergonomics and even driving it for a long period of time you never feel fatigued or uncomfortable driving the Cayman R.

Power

On paper it might seem that the Cayman doesn’t have that much power at 330 hp, but considering that the “R” weighs less than 3000 lbs (because it has straps instead of actual door handles), there is still enough power to ensure that you’re thoroughly satisfied.

But who cares about straight line speed, because the whole point of driving the Cayman R is enjoying its predictable and sharp handling.

The “Frog” had the PDK transmission which was fine but I really would’ve loved the manual version.  I’m sure on a track, PDK is faster and probably preferable since it allows the occasional track-goer (like myself) to focus on driving and not worry about shifting, but around town I would’ve enjoyed a standard transmission.

But I still managed to have fun with the flappy paddles – so much so that a Corvette drove by me and blipped their throttle to let me know how good the V8 sounds.  It did sound good although at the time I was enthralled by the Cayman R.

The Frog Changes Color

At night, the same car turned yellow!

Yellow Cayman

One thing to point out is that spoiler is fixed and it’s not the motorized version that rises up in the Cayman S.  Another “weight-saving” feature.

I was shocked to find out that you can’t actually access the engine without tools!  There is no way to get the cover off without them.  Seriously??

I’m sure that was Porsche’s way off adding an extra $500 to any engine-related work because now you need additional labor to actually get to the engine.

You can at least add oil though without having to remove any covers. Cayman engine

Just “R” your Cayman S

As cool as the Cayman R is, I’m sure a Cayman S would do the job just fine and satisfy your needs on the track – unless you really want squeeze out that extra bit of performance so that you can brag to your buddies at work.

Honestly, I don’t even know if it’s worth it to “R” your S.  You could reduce some weight and increase some power, but unless you really want to track the car, you’re probably better off with an S.  It would be more comfortable, almost as powerful, and still give you the same joys of driving a mid-engine Cayman.

The time has come to go on the hunt for a Cayman S…

Cayman R door open

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