Porsche Cayman (987) Buyers' Guide
Written by Peter Morgan
The auto industry model year (MY) runs from August 1 to 31 July, so a 2005 model could have been produced between 1 August 2004 and 31 July 2005.
2006 MY: 3.4-litre 295bhp Cayman S launched - essentially a coupé version of Type 987 Boxster S.
2007 MY: 2.7-litre 245bhp Cayman launched.
2008 MY: Cayman S Design Edition 1 (777 built) limited edition offers special stripes and Porsche Design accessories. Cayman S Sport Edition offered special colours and cosmetics with the same performance as mainstream.
2009 MY: With deliveries starting early 2009, 'Gen 2' 987 receives all new Direct Fuel Injection (DFI) engine. Porsche Doppel Kupplung (PDK) dual clutch gearbox replaces Tiptronic as an option. Base model engine size increased to 2.9-litres. Caymans given 10bhp maximum power advantage over respective Boxsters.
2010 MY: 330bhp Cayman R. 55kg lighter than S with stripped out spec
What's it like?
The Cayman is structurally based on the 987 Boxster, with a coupe roof adding further rigidity and strength. The Type 987 Boxster was itself a major redesign of the original, spectacularly successful, Type 986 Boxster. With eight year’s experience of what customers wanted, the new model had crisper, more contemporary looks and a significantly more pleasant interior that mirrored the new 997 model 911.
There was more power (of course) and the range's versatility was boosted for 2006 by the introduction of the Cayman S. Remarkably, this cost more than a Boxster S (contrary to industry norms) and the new coupé took a long time to find a niche among the already impressive Porsche line-up (it wasn't an entry level model and it wasn't a 911). However, the Cayman S was joined a year later by the base model Cayman, both coupés having slightly more power than the roadsters.
The Boxster/Cayman family best feature is the everyday driveability. Retaining the near ideal 47% front, 53% rear weight distribution, the mid-engined 2-seater offers spacious luggage areas both in the front and rear. The water cooled flat-6 engine delivers smooth, tractable power in a package that is complemented by class leading power assisted steering and brakes.
For a more sporting drive, the manual gearbox wins over the ultra practical Tiptronic. The full automatic is easy to live with in an urban lifestyle. The base Boxster/Cayman delivers a softer ride and has more than enough power, while the S models firm up the suspension and brakes and offer some 50bhp more - making them superb for overtaking.
The 2008 MY Gen 1 run out models (Design and Sport Editions) are more weekend cars, when the stripped out interiors and custom paint schemes aren't such an inconvenience. These models offer good value considering they are limited editions.
Quality took a significant step forward with the Gen 2 models (the 58 plate cars for the 2009 MY). The all-new engine shrugged off the spectre of potential major engine issues that dog the earlier cars and are worth the financial stretch.
Which one should I get?
The Cayman is an easy car to convert to from any mid-size saloon - as mentioned the 2.7 is a great everyday driver, while the S is slightly more focused. Both models have impressive reserves of performance and driving safety margins.
Most Caymanss didn't receive too many factory options when new, so well optioned cars are unusual. This is a model that simply doesn't need too many options to enjoy. Desirable options include 18-inch alloys for the base models, traction control, rear Park Assist, heated seats and cruise control. The Gen 1 cars could be optioned with the improved Porsche Communications Management 2 (PCM 2), which offered a radio/CD and sat-nav, with an optional phone set-up.
For the Gen 2 cars, PCM 3 is much improved with touch screen operation. The auto gearbox on the Gen 1 base models leaves the car a little breathless, but is worth considering for 2 pedal driving on the S. The Porsche Doppel Kupplung (PDK) double clutch gearbox is great on both 2.9 and 3.4 Gen 2 models and has revolutionised the concept of a Porsche with auto transmission.
What are the running costs?
As with all modern Porsches, the running costs for a well sourced example should be similar to a premium saloon. Service intervals are every 2 years or 20K miles, whichever comes sooner.
Correct servicing is a critical requirement on all Cayman models, which includes routine checking of the coolant system. Servicing costs vary across the country but would typically range from £300-600 + VAT (depending on whether you need a Minor (Intermediate) or Major (Maintenance) service and excluding items like brake fluid change, spark plugs and other wear and tear parts).
Typical clutch replacement is likely to cost £750-£1K, while an air conditioning rebuild (the condensers are in the front bumper and have a life of around 6-8 years) will cost perhaps £1.2K.
Brake wear depends on driving style, but for a manual 2.9-litre car, these typically should last 20K miles. To replace the front discs, pads and pad wear sensors is likely to cost £600 with a similar amount for the rear brakes.
Tyres should be Porsche N-rated types and these include Michelin, Pirelli, Continental and Bridgestone. You'll see the N-number embossed on the tyre sidewall as N1, N2, N3 etc depending on the version number produced by the given manufacturer. Tyre costs depend on sizes, but typically range from £150-250 each.
What should I look for?
The forums are full of horror stories concerning cylinder bore scoring and failure of the intermediate shaft (IMS) bearing in the engines. However, it worth noting that the cylinder scoring has only affected a small percentage of Gen 1 (pre DFI engine, 58-plate) cars. Some have suggested a figure of just 5%. In our experience it is the larger engined models (the 3.4 S models) that are more prone, making the 2.7 Gen 1 987s worth a look.
The IMS bearing is not an issue on the 987 as during 2006 a new, stronger bearing was introduced. For peace of mind, the 2007 models (56-plate onwards) can be assumed to have this stronger bearing. The leaky rear main oil seal (RMS) that blighted so many of the 986 models was largely resolved by the 987 models. If a particular car has a leaky RMS, the much revised newer seals should fix the problem.
The Gen 2 models have the all-new DFI engine and in our experience this has designed out all the previous trending major issues.
Select your car based on condition, mileage and service history first, then filter by less important items like colour and options. Any kind of customisation is a negative.
It is almost routine for quality dealers to repaint the frontal area panels on modern Porsches as stone chipping is unsightly and can lead to superficial corrosion.
Always try to drive the car before you buy. There is no substitute for taking a short run and appreciating whether the car is easy to live with. If you sense anything isn't quite right, it probably isn't.
If you don't have the experience to check the car out yourself, get a pre-purchase inspection expert to look at the car. They will advise on all aspects of the car's condition, what needs replacing now and in the short term and whether the car is valued correctly.
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