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CAR OF THE MONTH December 2005

2006 Porsche Cayman S Review

Careful, It Bites!

By Alain Gayot

A three-quarter front view of a blue 2006 Porsche Cayman S

In short: A quick, muscular, road-holding mid-engine sports coupe.

Porsche aficionados must heed to the birth of this wild reptilian racer inspired sports car... and where would be a better place to let it out of the cage than at the magnificent Barber Motorsports Park? This is what happened on a glorious late November day in Birmingham, Alabama: the American debut of Porsche’s new car. By definition, caimans, genus Crocodylia Alligatoridae, are smaller and more agile than crocodiles.

This particular animal only had a two-year gestation period—which is not too shy of a record for such a machine. While the car borrows—a lot—from its sister, the Boxster, and from its half brother, the Carrera, both in style and mechanical components, and was also inspired by the short-lived, mid-engine 550s and 904s, you’ll nevertheless find yourself at the wheel of a brand new automobile.

The vehicle is intended to satisfy a group resembling the following profile: 80% male, 45 years of age, 65% married with 2.5 people to the household—sort of like a social climber living in an urban environment. However, we suggest you continue reading no matter what profile you associate with.

2006 Porsche Cayman S

First the looks: you have to reckon with them for a while. They are unmistakably Porsche, fresh and somewhat retro at the same time. Take a look at the bubbly roof line for example, which by the way makes it impossible to install a sunroof. It might not be the top model of the year, but it is awfully cute, with a lot of character and dynamic idiosyncrasies. There is only room for two, but between the front and rear cargo areas you can pack up to 14.3 cubic feet of (soft) luggage. The cabin is spacey with good headroom, and the sports seats are desirable if you plan on having regular fun with it.

A new engine has been thought of which incorporates the VarioCam® technology only found on the Carrera. We would have loved to show you an image of the power plant, but in fact the engine is hidden in the middle of the car. Only a 20-minute process would begin to reveal the beautiful sound-generating machine, as you have to remove the trunk lining, unscrew aluminum panels etc. A completely new exhaust system was created to enhance performance, fuel mileage and a very distinctive sound. The car has been made very stiff and boasts a 55% rear, 45% front weight distribution, with an excellent power-to-weight ratio of 10.

A base model is $58,900, but it will be difficult to leave the showroom spending less than $70,000 as you will want a few of the options such as the PASM, the Sport Chrono Package Plus, 5-speed Tiptronic® S transmission and maybe heated seats. We loved the close-ratio 6-speed manual both for country roads and on the track. If you are curious about the rear wing, it lifts at 75 mph for added stability with reduced drag.

Despite being an agile sports car with great behavior in most driving situations, the engineers at Porsche want it to be an everyday automobile. So if you can’t get to the Nürburgring for a few laps, start out at your local dealer or look into booking a session at the Porsche Driving Experience driving school at the Barber Motorsports Park.

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A rear view of a blue 2006 Porsche Cayman S

Warranty/Service: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty, including Porsche's Roadside Assistance Program; 10-year/unlimited mileage rust perforation warranty.

Get inside! See what it's like to take a lap around the track with world racing champion Hurley Haywood. Click here to view videos of the Porsche Cayman S.

Price as tested: $70,505

Technical Specifications

Performance Data

Engine: 3.4 liter horizontally-opposed 6 cylinder
- 295 HP,
251 lb-ft. torque

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Safety: Front, side and side-curtain airbags, seatbelt pretensioners

Top Speed: 171 mph

Acceleration: 0-60 in 5.1 sec.

Braking: 60 mph-0 in 110 ft. Power-assisted dual-circuit brake system; four-piston aluminum monobloc caliper, ventilated perforated brake discs.

Handling:Traction control

Fuel Economy: 20 city / 28 highway

Emissions:LEV II

The Porsche Cayman S follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, the 1953 550.
The Porsche Cayman S follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, the 1953 550.

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Photography: AlphaMedia

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