Improving On Perfection
911 & Porsche World|November 2017

The 987 Cayman’s sweet chassis is its defining feature. But that hasn’t stopped one intrepid Croc owner from attempting to improve on near perfection with help from Ohlins and Center Gravity.

Jeremy Laird 

Nowt if not an opinion splitter on several levels. That’s the 987 Cayman. Take the styling. Is it pretty enough for a modern mid-engine Porsche coupé? That’s been debatable from the moment Porsche pulled the wraps off this Boxster with a roof back in 2005. Then there’s the performance. Some say it’s simply not quick enough, that it’s been held back to protect the iconic 911. But nearly everybody can agree on one thing. The 987 has a very sweetly balanced chassis.

In other words, the 987’s handling ain’t broken. So, why would anyone try to fix it? Enter Ohlins with their Road & Track suspension technology in long-awaited 987 compatible form. We’ll come to what makes this Ohlins kit stand out from the obvious Bilstein and KW alternatives. But the first obstacle Ohlins has to hurdle is why you’d mess with a factory setup that has generated widespread praise.

The argument for having a fiddle goes something like this. In simple, objective terms, the dampers Porsche fits to mainstream models like a cooking Cayman constitute pretty ordinary hardware. That’s not to say the standard struts on a 987 Cayman are junk. But Porsche didn’t exactly throw a lot of money at the damping, let’s put it that way. Aftermarket products like the Ohlins R&T offer an opportunity to bolt on something a bit more special.

Another significant factor involves personal preference. Unavoidably, the chassis setup on the 987 Cayman is a one-size-fits-all compromise. In achieving that compromise Porsche must accommodate a very wide spectrum of owners and drivers. The result needs to be safe for everyone and it needs to be user-friendly for as many potential customers as possible. In short, it can’t scare off mainstream car buyers. 

No question Porsche is best placed to achieve an optimal compromise given that remit. But you don’t need to think you’re better than Porsche at setting cars up to decide you want to go after a chassis that’s tuned to your own personal preferences. In an ideal world, one could argue, you’d have Porsche set the car up to your preference. But that’s not an option. If you’re after something a little more focused, something more particular, that’s where hardware from Ohlins and outfits like setup-specialists Center Gravity can make a difference.

It’s also where Charlie Craft and his rather delightful second-generation 987 Cayman S comes in. A serial owner of a number of very serious driver’s cars, including a mega-power Lotus Elise with a supercharged Honda engine, Charlie is the kind of guy who recognises the kind of trade offs above but isn’t afraid of going after a more tailored driving experience. 

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