This would have seemed a no-brainer right? The new TT S came out in 2015, late model previous-gen cars from 2014 or so going for mid-20s with plenty to choose from in a variety of specifications. And shades of silver or grey. Against that, a beautifully balanced mid-engined junior Porsche would be just the job to prove my prejudices right!
Damn you reality though. First problem? Caymans of a similar age are… rather more expensive. As in, twice as expensive. I confined my search to smaller-engined versions (2.7s and 2.9s) to weed out the much more costly S, GTS and R models. But a base Cayman of comparable 2014 vintage is still a £40K car. Seemingly I’ve priced myself out of this argument before it’s begun.
More worryingly, of the 20 cars that appeared on my first page of search results just two were manuals. Two! What the hell is wrong with people? Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch gearbox is very good. But the Cayman’s six-speed manual is a lovely transmission, better even than the seven-speeder used in the current 911. For keen drivers, the pairing of a stubby, short-throw manual shifter and the balanced, inertia-free response of a small-capacity Porsche flat-six engine is truly joyous. But I’m not going to win over my Audi-loving friend with that, the revvy, naturally-aspirated engine’s peaky power delivery or wittering on about steering feel. And especially not at that price.
My money? I’ve already blathered on about the BMW M135i. I’ve also talked about the Toyota GT86 here before and that, to me, would be the perfect riposte, not to mention a useful few grand cheaper.