Porsche's polite performer

The Porsche Cayman, a mid-engined two-seater Porsche, shares 40 per cent common parts with the cheaper Boxster convertible.

But this one has a stiffened chassis and suspension and more horsepower than most 911s ever produced. Yet with the Cayman's advanced chassis technology, it handles the power politely and safely. 

Unlike some high-performance cars of yesteryear, the Cayman is also a pleasure to drive at slow speeds. A sports button tensions the shock absorbers in preparation for a track day or hill climb. Controls are light and efficient, and its variable valve timing tractability meant we could pootle along at 25mph.

Older 911 models had a reputation for catapulting unskilled drivers off into the countryside backwards. I couldn't unstick the Cayman however hard I tried (though its satnav did achieve this, swerving us into areas of Stoke Newington best unimagined).

Other options available include formidable ceramic disc brakes. Oddly, no limited slip differential is available - and once or twice we scrabbled noticeably on speedy take-offs. Cyclists will be pleased to hear that a custom bike rack is also available.

We found the snug cabin comfortable enough for long runs. Roomy front and rear boots as well as multiple concealed lockers swallowed our shopping.

While the 911 may still rule the roost with its combination of power and roadholding, the Cayman packs a similar punch in a stylish and well-balanced package.

If you can consider a car in this price range, and value ultra-crisp design, dashing style, vice-free handling, and live far away from too many speed cameras, you will certainly enjoy a Cayman.

Dr Stefan Cembrowicz is a GP in Bristol.

Porsche Cayman 2.7
Price: £36,220
Engine size: 2.7 litres
Acceleration 0-60mph: 6.1 secs
Top speed: 162mph
Insurance group: 20
MPG: urban 20/ex-urban 39.8/combined 29.7
Real cost: (three years/36,000 miles ownership cost based on fuel,
depreciation, insurance, services): £24,446
What Car? rating: 4 out of 5

What Car? verdict: like everything about the way it drives. Occupants, luggage and mechanicals accommodated brilliantly. But, dashboard could be clearer, and supplies are likely to be limited by modest production plans

Go to www.whatcar.com for news, reviews, videos, deals and data

What Car? says:
The Cayman's 2.7-litre engine has 245bhp, which is not much more than some small hatches. It comes alive above 4,000rpm and gives enough pace to match the looks. The optional six-speed manual gearbox and sport chrono pack add useful extra urgency.

The Cayman is based on the mid-engined Boxster roadster, and its fixed roof means extra rigidity and sharper drive. Phenomenal grip means twisty roads can be covered with speed and accuracy, while the steering gives a near-perfect blend of sensitivity and feel.

Porsche will build only 10,000 Caymans a year (compared with 27,000 911s), so there's likely to be very strong second-hand value. Porsche running cost aren't cheap, but they are sensible for a prestige sports car.

The Cayman is a strict two-seater, but there's plenty of room inside the fixed-roof cabin. No space has been wasted - there's a 150-litre front boot and up to 260 litres more behind.

The Cayman misses out on some of the pricier S model's exterior features, with smaller alloy wheels, black rather than metallic bumper trim and a single exhaust tailpipe, but it's just as well equipped inside, with part-leather trim, climate control and part-electric seat adjustment.

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