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      05-28-2011, 05:39 AM   #13
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Autocar's answer to the Cayman R vs 1M comparison

Originally Posted by Autocar
1M v Cayman R - the truth Fri May 27 2011

Steve Sutcliffe

There would appear to be a fair bit of confusion (to put it mildly) or rage (to put it succinctly) about why we compared the BMW 1M with Porsche’s rather more expensive Cayman R. So I thought I’d put the record straight and explain why we did what we did, and reveal a few home truths at the same time.

And then hopefully the confusion – and the anger perhaps – might fade away gracefully into the ether, allowing us all to carry on enjoying our world of cars with a nice clear mind.

So if the class is ready, I shall begin (sit down please Cavellini; put that mobile away 289; oh for heavens sake jl4069, would you at least try to leave poor old Los Angeles alone for one minute).

Right then, where were we. Ah yes, 1M versus Cayman R. Why? Several reasons.

One; the BMW is, in BMW’s words, a no-compromise driver’s car, so we wanted to test that claim to the full. It’s limited in production numbers so therefore doesn’t need to appeal to or satisfy the wider market, which has allowed its engineers to produce a more ‘focused’ car than they normally would – according to BMW. In essense, then, what we are talking about is a CSL version straight out of the box. A car that may well have four seats and be based on the underpinnings of a more mainstream machine, but one that – because of the above – is also designed to appeal (in theory) to the exact same person who might fancy themselves behind the wheel of a Porsche Cayman. Hence our comparison.

Two; the Cayman we wanted to test the BMW against was actually the S, not the R. But for whatever reason (conspiracy theorists calm down please, otherwise I’ll sit you in the corner next to 4069) Porsche wouldn’t ‘make available’ a Cayman S for this particular test. In fact, in anticipation of this test Porsche GB put several Cayman Rs on its press fleet. PGB knew, in other words, that various media would be wanting to compare a Cayman with the 1M, but it wanted that Cayman to be an R, not an S. Given that we can’t afford to go out and buy a Cayman S for a one-off story, we had to make do therefore with an R. We also decided not to try to borrow an S from a dealer or source one privately – because more often than not when we have, things have gone very wrong indeed…

Three; we also decided not to compare the BMW with an Audi TT RS because we regarded it to be too soft a target. Same goes for the RS3. The Audis in question are very good cars but not, in our opinion, great ones. Whereas the Cayman – in any guise to be honest – is. And we wanted to test the BMW against the very best, what with BMW’s claims being as big as they are.

Four; 1M v Cayman R actually turned out to be the correct comparison to do in the end anyway – despite the BMW’s extra seats, its smaller price tag and its theoretically less thoroughbred underpinnings. Why? Because the BMW, as it turned out, is very much the real deal. It’s a genuinely committed keen driver’s car; one that anyone who knows why they enjoy driving a Cayman as much as they do, would also get a huge kick out of. The fact that it loses to the Cayman in the end, just, is actually of little bearing overall – because the headline news is that the BMW delivers, in spades, and at last.

And the first person to suggest that there is, in light of the above, no relevance in car magazines conducting comparison any longer has missed the point by a country mile. We do comparisons to give the latest new cars a context in which to be judged. Just because one car loses and the other wins, doesn’t mean both cars can’t be winners. In this instance that’s precisely the conclusion.

The BMW is a terrific car but the Cayman – in our opinion – is that little bit better still. And if you disagree with that judgement, that’s absolutely fine – because in this class, healthy debate is what we’re all about.

Always has been, always will be, A-men.

(jl4069, take Los Angles’ left elbow out of your mouth, right now, please…)

1M v Cayman R - the truth - Tester
I completely agree with Steve's comments here, sure it could as easily have been compared with the Cayman S and it probably would have been the more ideal comparison with probably the same outcome but in testing it with the Cayman R (arguably the finest driver's car) it shows up the 1M's weaknesses and more importantly it's strengths. I also agree that leaving out either of the two Audis was the wise decision here as neither are as entertaining even though each are as capable to compete in absolute terms of numbers produced either in a straightline or own track, frankly their addition would have only clouded things, this wasn't to find the best overall daily drivers but was a test to see if the 1M was indeed the finest driver's M car in recent years.

And you know what, it is and it shows that BMW's decision to switch to FI didn't dull the experience one bit, neither did using a non dedicated M engine. What's important is offering the driving experience through the seat of the pants that defines an M car.

Well done BMW.