2003 911 C4S Vs Cayman 2.7

6 months after I bought the Boxster, it was due for a service. I took it to the main dealer, which then gets you on the radar for various events which take place at the Porsche Centres in your area. One such event was a free 111 point inspection on your car, just before winter. The idea being that you can ensure your car is in tip top shape for the cold months ahead.

Whilst the car was in for inspection, I was invited to take a test drive from anything on the forecourt that took my fancy. Happy days.

So, my choices were a Cayman 2.7 (a car which I had my eye on for a purchase a few years down the line – assuming I worked hard enough), and a 911 C4S for comparison. And really, I just wanted to drive one!

First up was the Cayman demonstrator. With just a few hundred miles showing on the clock on this brand new car, the salesman caned it down the highway from cold. Mental note to self, don’t by a demonstrator.

Cayman test drive

Cayman test drive

That aside, I was impressed with the Cayman. The interior was more modern when compared to the 986 Boxster. It felt a little quicker, but not overly so, but it was a manageable car that anyone can drive; fast, but not put-you-in-the-hedge fast. The engine was also a bit more throaty than my Boxster, perhaps some of that being attributed to the fact that its in the cabin with you.

After a demonstration of the frighteningly capable braking quality and it was changeover time. Myself and the driver swapped sides and I got to give it some beans. The car pretty much sold itself onto my to-do list for the next purchase in a few years time. It looked good, felt modern, was a bit faster than my Boxster and felt like I would be upgrading.

Porsche Cayman, Grey

Porsche Cayman, Grey

However, I also wanted a go in the iconic 911. I’d not driven one up until this point but was well aware it was a top-of-the-tree supercar. A bit out of my price range at the time and I was very excited. I kept my cool as I asked the sales man to get one out for a ‘comparison’!!

His response surprised me as he went for the keys. “Now you’ve driven the Cayman, your going to be disappointed with the 911”. Disappointed? Really?! I realise it was the previous generation model (996), but it was a C4S – quite high up in the range and only a couple of years old. I was sure he was wrong and couldn’t wait to have a go!

911 996 C4S

911 996 C4S

As I took the keys and sat inside my first impressions as I got into the car was that it looked the same as the Boxster, but with a few more dials. Having owned the Boxster now for several months, this was noted as “nothing special”.

I’m not overly struck so far, but wasn’t expecting anything with the interior – I already knew that both the Boxster and the 911 share a lot of the same parts. Starting her up was nice though, a very meaty rumble. As I pulled onto the road I couldn’t help but think “Look at me, I’m in a 911. A Nine-Eleven. Me.” I was so excited inside, but tried not to show too much to the salesman who was probably expecting  a little more decorum than the re-enactment of an overly excited child.

911 C4S

911 C4S

The exterior of the C4S is nice though. It has the extra wide hips and the red stripe across the boot lid – a nod the the C4S models of old. In Silver with the larger turbo style wheels and the low stance it looks really nice. Very purposeful, reminding others at a potential traffic light grand prix not to bother.

As the car warmed up I got to a nice straight road and put my foot down hard. My excitement started to deflate. I was expecting something iconic, savage, brutal. An awesome grin to go with an awesome piece of machinery. But it didn’t happen. The car sounded great, sure, and it went quickly. But it didn’t go that quickly, and it didn’t sound a million miles away from the Boxster, or the Cayman. Certainly nothing that a sports exhaust couldn’t fix. The car moved fast, but not so fast that it made the Boxster feel like a shopping trolley. It didn’t make me feel like I’d bought a “poor mans Porsche”. Ditto on the twisty roads. All of these cars are significantly more capable than my abilities, so I’ll never know which ones are better than others – they all corner really well but mid engined cars are generally known to be a more secure option in the hands of amateurs. Either way, they all went around the bends as hard as I dared push them, so the 911 didn’t leave wanting – but it didn’t excel from the other cars either.

If I’m honest, I wanted it to be amazing and to put the Boxster firmly in the shade. I secretly wanted to get back in the Boxster and to feel underwhelmed. Why? Well, because its good to have something to aspire to. I love cars, they are what make me work harder each year to try and earn more money simply so I can spend more on the next model in my hobby. I’d got the Cayman planned now, but then what? The 911 certainly wasn’t that amazing and for the extra money it just didn’t satisfy any cravings. Plus, the 2 seaters look much better.

This left me in no doubt that the Cayman was the next car for me. The old shape 911 was a disappointment, but maybe I was expecting too much.

People, largely whom have never driven any Porsche, say that the 911 is the only model to get. I disagree and I’m quite happy to say that the significantly cheaper little sister is a great car in its own right and whilst it will never put the legendary 911 in the shade, it certainly is a perfect little Porsche in its own right.

For anyone who hasn’t owned/driven a Boxster, then the 911 will feel fantastic. But if you’ve had one already, you might find this a tad disappointing.

The 997 however, that might well be a different story. And as soon as I’ve been in one I’ll be sure to let you know…

Jan 2010(r) October 2006

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