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Porsche Cayman R | Spotted

There was a racy Cayman before the GT4, remember, and quite the car it was...

By Matt Bird / Sunday, October 06, 2019

What with the frothy excitement around not just one, but now two generations of Porsche Cayman GT4, there's been comparatively little mention the car the indirectly preceded it. When was the last time a Cayman R came up in a car conversation?

Exactly. For a lightweight, mid-engined, naturally-aspirated Porsche - with, heavens above, hydraulic steering as well - there's arguably not as much reverie around the R as you much expect. Of course, the Motorsport-built GT4 will have taken some sheen of it, but there are other factors to consider that might explain why it's a little under the radar. First was the outrage from aficionados of arse-engined Porsche about the 'R' moniker; before 2011 it had only been seen on the 800kg 911 of 1967, which is about as exalted as classic Porsches get. To use the name on a mere Cayman was deemed not quite cricket.

There's also the fact that the Boxster Spyder, launched at the same time, was the rather more glamorous and exotic option of the two, complete with its fancy (and fiddly) roof. Don't forget that both Spyder and R only enjoyed minimal power gains over regular 3.4 Boxsters and Caymans, so arguably the former might have been perceived as more special against the standard cars with its supercar silhouette.

Still, the fact that the name upset a few beards, and that it didn't look all that different from a Cayman S, doesn't detract from the R being a superlative sports car. Adding 10hp to and removing 55kg from a Cayman wasn't much, sure, but the 987 was so good already that it just made the very best that bit better. A little sharper, a little more eager, even sweeter than everything else out there.

The reviews reflected as much, the PH verdict suggesting that, over an S, the R "asks for little in the way of compromise but rewards that bit more, goes that bit harder and includes plenty of desirable kit." It was, who'd have thought, another great Porsche sports car. You'll remember, surely, the Cayman R v 1M Coupe tests back in 2011, the Porsche's finely-honed dynamics battling the BMW's swaggering, muscle car attitude in perfectly matched duels.

Funnily enough, it's a valid comparison to this day, both having clung to their value like a desperate mountaineer to the cliff face, refusing to fall. They were £40kish new, and £40k eight years later. This particular Cayman R stood out with its brilliant specification: manual, carbon seats, sports exhaust. Don't really need much else, do you? It's £42,495, an incredible show of residual strength, and validating all those who stumped up the cash for what seemed like not very much extra, really, back at the early part of the decade.

Given what's happened since this car's introduction, and where the future of fast cars is going, it's hard to imagine the R losing any desirability to those in the know. Light, mid-engined, rear-drive sports cars have been popular for a very long time, and that isn't going to change any time soon. Sure, you could have a very nice 911 for the same sort of money, but even a 997 doesn't look like as safe a spot for your cash. Or, it could be well argued, quite so desirable to those after a great sports car. Question remains, though: might the 1 M Coupe be even better still?

3,436cc, flat-six
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive, LSD
Power (hp): 330@7,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 273@4,750rpm
MPG: 29
CO2: 228
First registered: 2011
Recorded mileage: 31,000
Price then: £51,728
Price now: £42,495

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