Elemental Performance | 2014 Porsche Cayman S

August 2014 View more

Photos courtesy of © 2014 Porsche Cars North America, Inc.

Photos courtesy of © 2014 Porsche Cars North America, Inc.

If you care more about your car’s shoulder room and trunk space than its steering response and traction, save yourself some time: The car you see above is not for you. But, if a magnificently balanced chassis and a delightful, slightly raucous engine mounted behind your seat make you dream of drives with no purpose other than driving? Well, the 2014 Porsche Cayman S might be your type of car.

From the moment you slide into the Cayman S’s slim, snug driver’s seat, it should be abundantly clear that this two-seater’s focus is on just one narrow portion of the whole point-A-to-point-B equation. Most trips are about getting to B and the Cayman S is all about the “getting to” part.

Think of the Cayman S as an antidote for all that ails us such as our over-scheduled lives, our constant rush to the next event, and our distractions on the road.

NMAG0814_FortheRoad_2014Cayman _10__800pxHow can you talk on the phone with the engine’s soundtrack rising and falling with each accelerative burst, the exhaust note signaling each downshift? How can you be concerned about getting to the next parking lot when accelerating through the gears—the shift knob mere inches from the steering wheel—delivers such undiluted driving bliss? How can your thoughts wander to petty stresses when you are seated literally inches off the ground, gripping a steering wheel that feels so directly connected to the wheels and the road?

Perhaps surprisingly, the elemental joy of driving the Cayman S is not even directly related to its speed. Yes, it is a quick car that accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than five seconds, with a top speed of 175 mph. But it is the sound, the feel, the gut-level experience of driving that sets the Cayman S apart. If you’re not ready with the clutch when the light turns green, you might let a Camry with a determined driver get the jump on you, but there is no question that you will be enjoying the drive more than just about anyone else on the road.

And yet, for all its potential to transport its driver, the Cayman S is a truly useful car, a third car for some, but also perfectly reasonable as a daily driver for those who do not generally need more than two seats and a few small suitcases.

NMAG0814_FortheRoad_2014Cayman _5__800pxThe 3.4-liter flat-six engine and its dance partner the six-speed manual transmission that rewards the driver with every upshift and downshift are surprisingly flexible. There seems to be no such thing as the wrong gear. Accelerate around a delivery van in third gear; drive at school zone speeds in fourth gear with nary a shudder; loaf along in the passing lane in sixth gear.

In the rain with stock tires, the Cayman S drives as confidently as any family sedan. Invest in good snow tires and judiciously apply the throttle and brakes, and this rear-wheel-drive sports car will likely handle just fine in the snow, too. Though its ground-hugging design means you will have to make some concessions to reality.

And go ahead take the Cayman S to the market. With storage both in the front and rear, and even a bit behind the seats, you can easily fit a week’s worth of groceries, or a day’s take at the mall.

The 2014 Porsche Cayman S starts at $63,800. This model year, it is the middle of the Cayman pack. The basic Cayman, with a 2.7-liter engine and 0-to-60 time of 5.4 seconds, is $52,600. The new, more visually arresting and slightly quicker Cayman GTS starts at $75,200. If this is your type of car, you will not go wrong with any of the three choices.