From the broadest point of view, the Porsche 911 and the Porsche Cayman are very similar cars. They have 2 doors, a raking roofline, rear-wheel-drive, a trunk in the front, and “Porsche” spelled out on the back. And as of late, they are now both engineered and assembled in Germany. Not that different then. Well not so fast. Once you walk into the dealership, you’ll realize that they aren’t similar at all.
The 911, the daddy, has been around for just over 50 years and has since become an icon of design, pedigree, and motivation. It requires no introduction, and it would be fair to say that it is the most evolved car in the world, with the current generation reaching perfection ever so closely. At Porsche, the mantra has always sounded: “evolution, not revolution,” which couldn’t be summed up any better than by looking at the 911 lineage, from its humble beginnings in 1963 all the way to 2014.
The Cayman on the other hand is, in relative terms, the new kid on the block. And since its recent second generation model debut, which turned the power, handling, and looks dial to full 11, it’s become even more difficult to decide between the classic 911 or the fresh and nimble Cayman. Do you opt for pedigree, GT-type road behavior and a set of rear seats, or do you opt for the grass roots sportscar; engine in the middle, drive to the rear, and no compromises whatsoever? What the Cayman lacks in power it makes up by weighing less. What the 911 lacks in nimbleness it makes up with by being more powerful and practical.
It should be a difficult choice, especially given that the Cayman foregoes the 911’s price premium to make up for the lack in size and pedigree. But from a handling and performance perspective, or in other words, the qualities people look for in a Porsche, they are on relative equal terms. So which one are people picking up? When looking at the 2013 year end sales numbers for both Canada and the US, it’s the 911 – by a long shot. In fact, in both markets, for each Cayman that is sold, three 911s drive off the lot. Looking around town, those numbers seem about right, as spotting a Cayman is nearly as difficult as spotting a limited production Porsche like a GT2 RS or Carrera GT. But why is that so? Let’s examine what makes people opt for the 911 over the Cayman, and let’s find out if these reasons can be justified.
In the case of the Cayman, we can deduce its target audience from Porsche’s motivation behind producing it. The Cayman is the product of Porsche catering to a small but vocal segment of their growing customer base, that demands a no-compromise “entry-level” machine that strikes the right balance between power and weight. A car for the die-hards. Coincidentally, it is also a car aimed at a younger audience – an audience who perhaps isn’t quite ready yet to buy a 911.
Because after all, Porsche is all about brand loyalty. Just ask the next person you see driving a 911. Most likely it wont be their first 911, and even more likely, they’ll tell you a story from their youth about the time they decided that a 911 just had to be the one. But on the flipside, there’s a large, silent group of mature customers who’d happily forego the no compromise, go-kart abilities of the Cayman for a slightly more enjoyable-in-all-conditions 911 with 2 extra seats, and a smidgen more pedigree.
And that last part, the pedigree bit, plays a huge role in the decision on which Porsche to buy, as I’m convinced that the average buyer of a new 991 has at least at one point in their lives, whether 10 years ago or 40 years ago, drooled over a glossy magazine advertisement of a now classic 911 with the promise that one day,… one day they will too join the Porsche family.
At the end of the day, I firmly believe that the choice between 911 or Cayman comes down to your lifestyle. I believe that the people who chose for a 911 generally drive it on a daily basis and therefore appreciate the added practicality of two rear seats. They are generally older than your average Cayman driver and most likely have some connection, and place great importance, on the 911 lineage. They enjoy the finer things in life and have an eye for design. The Cayman driver is, I believe, more adventurous and more performance-oriented. The Cayman will remain tucked away until it’s the weekend and time for some canyon blasts. You’ll find that the Cayman is used less, but when it does get fired up, it’ll go on greater adventures. Perhaps even with a kayak or bicycle strapped to the roof. It’s not that the Cayman driver doesn’t enjoy the finer things in life, it’s just that these things are defined very differently.
If you believe you fit distinctly in one of the two catagories, then I’d like to think I’ve just made your choice for you. However, there’s a great deal of overlap between both the 911 and Cayman’s abilities, and the best advice I could provide is to go test drive them at your local Porsche Centre.
OpenRoad Auto Group is a proud Porsche Premiere dealer of both the Porsche 911, and also the Porsche Cayman at Porsche Centre Langley, and Porsche Now Richmond. Book a test drive for a new Porsche available at OpenRoad Auto Group here.
What would I choose? It would have to be the 911. Why? Because I’m six foot six inches and I’m just a tad too tall to fit in a Cayman. And that’s a real shame.
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