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Cayman is almost like a 911

For just about any driving enthusiast, the Porsche 911 is a go-to dream car. And because of its price, a dream is about all it will ever be for most people.

For just about any driving enthusiast, the Porsche 911 is a go-to dream car. And because of its price, a dream is about all it will ever be for most people.

But there is a Porsche that many would argue is just as good at delivering smiles, and for tens of thousands less. An affordable Porsche?

In relative terms, the 2014 Cayman is a bargain.

The closely related Boxster convertible was given a thorough updating for the 2013 model year and now it's the Cayman's turn.

If you're not conversant with Porsche's mid-engine hatchback coupe, you might wonder what all the fuss is about.

For everyone else, the changes in content and design are cause for much celebration.

Although the gorgeous fastback shape is familiar, the distance between the front and rear wheels of this two-seater has been extended by about six centimetres and there's more rubber on the ground.

That should add up to greater stability and ride comfort with improved cornering prowess and stopping power.

Additionally, the constantly variable Active Suspension option with "normal" and "sport" shock settings has been upgraded and can be combined with the available Torque Vectoring that directs extra power to the outside rear wheel when cornering.

The Cayman benefits from a net weight reduction of 27 kilograms (30 kilograms for the Cayman S).

The shell alone drops 45 kilograms because of the increased use of aluminum that makes up 44 per cent of the body.

However, more glass area and larger wheels have put some of the weight back on.

Adjustments to the body design are subtle, but they give the car a cleaner, crisper appearance.

As with the Boxster roadster, the coupe has a new nose, reshaped fenders and deeply sculpted door panels that incorporate larger side air intakes.

This is a distinct styling departure from the 911 and helps identify Caymans.

Out back, the aluminum hatch is larger and the deck spoiler is taller and has a steeper angle.

You'll likely never see it as it's automatically deployed once the car reaches 120 kilometres per hour, which is a pretty easy speed given the powertrain choices.

The previous 2.9-litre six-cylinder engine, with its 265 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, has been replaced by a 2.7-litre engine that makes 275 horsepower and 213 pound-feet of torque.

The 3.4-litre six-cylinder Cayman S powerplant has been nudged to 325 horses, with torque remaining about the same at 272 pound-feet.

Porsche's stats box indicates the Cayman will hit 100 km-h from rest in 5.7 seconds with the six-speed manual gearbox, or 5.6 if the quicker-shifting Sport Chrono package for the optional seven-speed automated manual transmission (PDK) is selected. For the Cayman S, the times drop to 5.0 and 4.9 seconds, respectively.

For comparison, that's right in the range of the Audi R8 supercar that has about 100 more horsepower.

Porsche has added a start/stop feature for the Cayman that shuts off the engine while stopped, then fires it up again once the brake pedal is released.

This, along with a coasting feature that idles the engine when driving downhill, contributes to an unofficial fuel-economy rating for the 2.7 of 9.4 l/100 km in the city and 6.2 highway.

For the 3.4 with the PDK, the numbers should mirror the Boxster's 9.9/6.6.

For those of you who don't want the Sport Chrono package, pressing the Sport button on the console will still produce more rapid upshifts at higher revs, faster downshifts and the stop/start and coasting features will be bypassed.

A large part of the Cayman's makeup is how it treats drivers and passengers and the restyled interior is a total joy.

The gauges and switchgear are logically positioned and the absence of steering-wheel clutter, such as redundant controls, will be much appreciated by serious drivers.

Base Caymans will start at $61,000, while the Cayman S stickers for $74,000. Those are about the same prices as for the previous models, and a great deal for Porsche's talented duo that provide similar driving pleasure and style to the 911.

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