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Second-Hand: 2006-11 Porsche Cayman

Perfect for Sunday morning sprint the engine played like symphony, though coupe had reputation for harsh ride.

It must be hell.

‘The manual says take it easy (keep it under 4,200 r.p.m.) for 2,000 miles. That means 1,260 not very exciting miles ahead,’ a new Porsche Cayman owner wrote online.

Docility doesn?t come easy behind the wheel of an exhilarating sports car during the initial break-in period, especially one with such an awesome soundtrack.

‘The engine puts out an unmistakable note that sounds almost like a symphony orchestra,’ one enthusiast posted.

Unfortunately, southern Ontario is bereft of long tunnels where you can enjoy that flat-six concerto. Nonetheless, buy a pre-owned Cayman and the excruciating break-in is behind you.

2006-11 Porsche Cayman

CONFIGURATION

Essentially a coupe version of Porsche?s second-generation Boxster convertible ? with which it shared the rear-drive chassis and some body parts ? the new-for-2006 Cayman benefited from a revised suspension massaged to make the most of the car?s inherent torsional rigidity, owing to its fixed roof and extra crossbrace.

The divergence between roadster and coupe started from the windshield back, where the Cayman?s steel roof arced rearward to a small backlight that formed part of the hatchback and melded with the curvaceous rear fenders.

The dashboard was pure race car: the tachometer earned the centre position, with the speedometer to the left and secondary gauges to the right. The seats were firm but shaped perfectly for Sunday-morning gymkhanas. Headroom and legroom were ample for six-plus-footers.

The mid-engined Cayman offered only two bucket seats, behind which lay a soundproofed engine cover. Behind that was a small, recessed trunk to augment the one under the hood ? room enough for two golf bags.

Only the big-engine ?S? model was available when North American sales commenced in early 2006. The all-aluminum DOHC 3.4 L flat-six shared its bore and stroke with the previous-generation Porsche 911, sufficient for 291 hp and 251 lb.-ft. of torque. Transmission choices included a Getrag six-speed manual and a five-speed automatic with Tiptronic manumatic shifting.

For 2007, Porsche released its workaday Cayman (sans ?S?) with a 2.7 L flat-six that powered the base Boxster, updated with variable intake valve timing and lift. It was good for 245 horsepower and 201 lb.-ft. of torque and came tied to a five-speed manual (the six-speed and automatic were optional).

The base model got a new 2.9 L flat-six making 265 hp and 221 lb.-ft. of torque for 2009, thanks to higher compression and a variable valve-lift and -timing system on both exhaust and intake cams. The 3.4 L Cayman S saw output jump from 295 hp to 320 hp with the adoption of direct fuel injection.

Also new was Porsche?s optional PDK seven-speed, dual-clutch sequential transmission. PDK could be left in full-automatic mode or drivers could rip off quick shifts via the shift mechanism or steering-wheel buttons. Other 2009 updates included LED running lights, a revised interior and optional limited-slip differential.

ON THE ROAD

Equipped with the six-speed gearbox, the 2006 Cayman S could sprint to 96 km/h in 4.8 seconds, while the 2007 base model could do it in 5.5 seconds. The more muscular 2009 Caymans needed 4.3 seconds (S) and 5.1 seconds to achieve highway velocity.

Beyond tire-scorching acceleration, the Cayman exhibited mind-bending handling, too. Its mid-engine architecture, which placed the weighty engine and meaty pilot between the axles, was ideal for carving roads. The Cayman S generated 0.99 g of grip on a circular skid pad. Four-piston calipers ensured the sports car stopped with alacrity.

Touted as a track star you can drive to work, in reality the Cayman was not for everyone. Some drivers noted the car rode harshly, especially with the optional 19-inch wheels. Tire din on the highway can be wearisome.

?I can?t imagine going on a long trip in the Cayman without plenty of Motrin,? one owner pointed out.

WHAT OWNERS SAY

Suffice to say Cayman owners are smitten by their rides. The mid-engine coupe does virtually everything Porsche?s iconic 911 can do, yet the performance envelope is more accessible and the entry fee is lower.

The Cayman has exhibited sterling reliability despite sharing a lot of components with the Boxster, which has had a checkered past. Early Boxsters suffered some major setbacks, including cylinder liner slippage, rear main seal leaks and intermediate shaft bearing failures.

The Cayman used an improved, 911-derived engine that worked better, evidenced by virtually no drivetrain complaints online. The few gripes found in our scan revealed the odd coolant leak, faulty sparkplug coils, awful radios and niggling rattles.

These days, Porsche rivals Lexus at the pinnacle of J.D. Power and Associates? dependability rankings. The Cayman may have propelled it there.

2006-11 Porsche Cayman

WHAT’S BEST: Vice-free mid-engine chassis, sonorous engine note

WHAT’S WORST: Noisy at speed, state-of-the-art radio (for 1970), costly upkeep

TYPICAL GTA PRICES: 2006 ? $40,000; 2009 ? $52,000

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