Wednesday 19 February played host to the 2014 Car of the Year announcement ceremony at a packed Sandton Convention Centre, where the nine finalists lined up side by side in anticipation of the big announcement.
Given the result of the 2013 competition, where the Porsche Boxster took a surprising victory, there was an uneasy sense in the air. Murmurs fluttered throughout the crowd, everyone whispering their predictions to one another; not wanting to be too quick to disregard any of the nine.
A wise strategy as it turns out, because lo and behold Porsche was once again crowned Car of the Year, this time for the all new Cayman S.
Now you’d be forgiven for being stunned; as traditionally Car of the Year has been a more ‘down-to-earth’ competition. However, taking into account that Porsche tout the Cayman as the ultimate driver-focused mid-engined sports car and given the recently revamped competition guidelines, anyone has the potential to come out on top.
So, more about the winner then. The 2014 Porsche Cayman comes hot on the heels of the new 911 Carrera and Boxster, having been completely redeveloped from the ground up. It is now the third Porsche sports car to use new lightweight body construction technology recently developed by Porsche.
Porsche went to great lengths to reconsider the styling of the Cayman in order to create visual differentiation from the Boxster. It sits on a longer wheelbase, with shorter overhangs and larger wheels for a start; while extensive body work tweaks give the new Cayman a more aggressive demeanour than its predecessor.
The 3.4 litre flat six powerplant received an overhaul as well to include some fancy technology that not only boosts low down torque, but increases top end power as well through intelligent air flow management. That’s all linked up to Porsche’s Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) automatic, dual clutch gearbox that’ll change cogs so fast you wouldn’t even realise it’s happened. The results are astonishing; 0-100km/h is dealt with in under 5 seconds while top speed is rated at 280km/h. In my books this is made to seem even more impressive when you consider the motor only produces 240kW (less than a Nissan 370Z).
As mentioned, the lengthened wheelbase and wider track offer improved stability and cornering agility; while the myriad of other systems, like active suspension management, torque vectoring and bigger brakes all work toward a common goal of creating the ultimate driving machine (although the addition of a limited slip diff would undoubtedly improve the Cayman’s driving dynamics tenfold).
The combination of the above factors has lead the Car of the Year jury to conclude that the Porsche Cayman S is, on balance, the best car in the country right now. Congratulations to Porsche on another successful year and another winning vehicle.
- Porsche Cayman S
- Volkswagen Golf 7 1.4 TSI 90 kW Comfortline DSG
- Audi A3 Sportback 1.4T FSI
- Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG
- Jaguar F-Type 3.0 V6 S
- Renault Clio4 66kW Turbo Dynamique
- Lexus IS 350 F-Sport
- Volvo V40
- Peugeot 208 GTI.