Have you ever seen a movie that your friends had over-hyped to such degree that there was no way it could possibly match your expectations? Well, that’s a bit how I feel. At 54 years old, I finally got to drive a Porsche for the first time* last night. The car in question was a 2007 Cayman S with the 5-speed auto transaxle. My impression? I hate to say this, but mostly, Meh. Don’t get me wrong, 295 horsepower in a sub-3,000 lb. car is plenty fast enough to entertain me, and the brakes and handling are super sharp without being harsh or uncontrollable. Those traits I liked. But frankly, I think much of what makes “the Porsche experience” unique is lost on me.
- Wow, this is snug. It’s more akin to putting on a wetsuit than getting into a car. I understand that a seat that grabs you and holds you in one spot is crucial during high-G cornering, but at 6 ft. and 160 lbs, I have rarely felt as closed-in and strapped-down as I did in this one. Add to that a low windshield and a door that’s right at your shoulder, and it feels downright coffin-like. To be fair, I was driving somebody else’s car for and didn’t adjust anything to fit me, but without having King of Mulholland aspirations, it seemed annoyingly needless.
- I feel so low. Not only is the view around the many SUVs, bro-trucks, and tractor-trailers that clog Kansas City’s highways less than complete, but at our destination the owner instructed me to go around the back entrance because the chassis would drag if I took the the slightly crowned main driveway off the street. Really?
- I sometimes speed, but I don’t SPEED. The owner told me repeatedly that the only way I would “get” the Cayman would be to push it well past the ton, deep into triple-digit speeds. On commuter highways threading through the center of an urban area? No thank you. He kept assuring me that his Escort radar detector would protect me, but when I think of weaving through traffic at a closing speed twice that of other cars, a traffic citation seemed the least undesirable possible consequence. Maybe if I’d been rowing a manual gearbox, I might have tasted a bit more red mist to goad me, but as it was I was content to not drive like an ass.
Overall, I enjoyed the ride, I really did. The Cayman S is a very interesting car, even with the automatic. But after hearing others wax lyrical about the transcendent nature of Porsches, finally getting behind the wheel didn’t leave me clamoring for a Cayman of my own, which was very much what I was expecting, and why it left me feeling a bit let down. Perhaps if I’d been on twisting, deserted backroads. Perhaps if I’d futzed with the seat and gotten the ergonomics to suit me better. Perhaps if I’d had more than 20 minutes to bond with the car. Perhaps if it hadn’t been equipped with a slushbox. Perhaps, perhaps — but as it was, I haven’t quite swallowed Porsche’s red pill.
|*Okay, this is not technically correct. Around 25 years ago, I once used my bosses’ 1980 911 to go pick up lunch for my co-workers at White Castle. But the total round trip was probably less than a half mile, on a jam-packed urban arterial road during rush hour. I barely got into second gear, so that that doesn’t really count.|