Pick almost any used performance car and they tend to scribe a U-shaped line of desirability as they age. Some dip deeper than others, others tease that temporal nadir fore and aft a little. Porsche’s 987 Cayman is a case in point. When the 217kW/340Nm 3.4-litre Cayman S first arrived in Australia, back in March 2016, it seemed like Zuffenhausen’s magic bullet, faster around a circuit than a 997 Carrera and more focused than the 3.2-litre Boxster, which ceded 11kW and 20Nm to its hard-top sibling.
Of course, Porsche wasn’t shy in positioning the newcomer as a more serious driver’s car than the Boxster and pricing it accordingly, adding $16K to the price of the Boxster S for the privilege and, in the process, bucking the convention that convertibles are a price-plus version of a coupe. That wasn’t to last – the 718 generation finally saw Porsche come clean on that score.
A 180kW/273Nm 2.7-litre base Cayman was subsequently introduced in February 2007, priced from $118,000. This, in turn, was replaced by the 195kW/300Nm 2.9-litre lump in a June 2009 facelift. At the same time, the 3.4-litre engine gained direct injection to help lift it to 235kW/370Nm. The old Tiptronic S auto transmission was swapped for the six-speed double-clutch PDK ’box and a limited slip diff was introduced as a factory option. The problematic intermediate main shaft (IMS) bearing design was also redesigned.
Australia never received the limited-run Cayman S Sport or the 777-unit Design Edition 1 that were offered in some right-hand drive markets in 2008, but we did get the swansong for the 987c program, the lovely 243kW/370Nm Cayman R of 2011 complete with aerokit, 19-inch wheels shared with the Boxster Spyder, a 54.8kg strip-out and a passive suspension setup that was 10mm lower than a Cayman S with Porsche’s Active Suspension Management (PASM). Only 500 were ever built and they’re still in very strong demand.
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