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      07-06-2013, 12:25 AM   #1
soberin
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Cayman S Review (Short Version)

Did an extended test drive this week with the new Cayman S. Stock suspension (no PASM), PDK, no Sport Chrono. A few quick impressions.

1. Very beautiful
2. Great fit and finish
3. More trunk space than I thought
4. Excellent driving position
5. Brake and throttle pedals too far apart for proper heel-toe, unless they are closer together in the 6MT, which would be unlikely, right?
6. Engine not even close to M3 in sound, eagerness to rev or flexibility
7. Electric power steering really is as bad as the reviews state. More on-center play than in M3, and less feel and feedback. Certainly way worse than the previous Porsche HPS system. A real shame.
8. The car is slow. If you think the M3 has "no torque," which is debatable anyway, you will hate the Cayman S.
9. Fantastic cornering, no brake dive, super high limits. BUT you have do drive through the weird filtered steering software which spoils it for me.
10. OK brakes
11. Really don't care for the PDK. Buttons on the wheel are strangely set up. There is a button at 3 o'clock and at 9 o'clock, but they both function identically, for drivers who are right handed or left handed. Push with your thumb to upshift, and push from BEHIND the wheel with your index to downshift. Not a great design. Give me a real column mounted paddle shifter.
12. The PDK seems to be designed to coast when you lift off, even in full manual mode in a low gear. I lifted in 2nd and 3rd, and instead of the expected "engine braking" the car just coasted. Not normal.
13. I'll take the 6 spd, but if you get Sport Chrono, I believe you cannot de-activate the automatic rev-matching on downshifts. Not good if you like to double-clutch, like I do.
14. When I got back into my E90 with Dinan mods: intake, exhaust, diff, pulley, Stg III suspension, software, strut brace, toe links and monoballs, it was clear I had a superior car for me. I expected to fall in love with the Cayman before the test drive. Afterward, the M3 sounded way better, the engine is a killer, the HPS was better, and the 6MT was better than the PDK, although not better of course than a manual Porsche. Also significantly more power and torque.
15. Oh yeah, the ride in the Cayman is choppy with its short wheelbase compared to the M3, and can't match the suppleness of the stock M3 suspension. And it certainly can't match the combination of cornering and smoothness of the Dinan Stg III.
16. But it's a light lighter and of course will do better on the track.
17. The M3 is overall more versatile, in that it will do almost as well on the track and better as a DD.
18. If you want a Cayman S, get a used earlier version with the HPS and 6MT
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      07-06-2013, 07:42 AM   #2
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Thanks for the review. Porsche offers a sports steering wheel with conventional paddles and it isn't very expensive. That is the one to get with pdk.



The left is standard. The middle is the multifunction and the right is the sport steering wheel with the better paddle shifters.
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      07-06-2013, 08:34 AM   #3
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Much better.
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      07-06-2013, 08:51 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soberin View Post
Did an extended test drive this week with the new Cayman S. Stock suspension (no PASM), PDK, no Sport Chrono. A few quick impressions.

1. Very beautiful
2. Great fit and finish
3. More trunk space than I thought
4. Excellent driving position
5. Brake and throttle pedals too far apart for proper heel-toe, unless they are closer together in the 6MT, which would be unlikely, right?
6. Engine not even close to M3 in sound, eagerness to rev or flexibility
7. Electric power steering really is as bad as the reviews state. More on-center play than in M3, and less feel and feedback. Certainly way worse than the previous Porsche HPS system. A real shame.
8. The car is slow. If you think the M3 has "no torque," which is debatable anyway, you will hate the Cayman S.
9. Fantastic cornering, no brake dive, super high limits. BUT you have do drive through the weird filtered steering software which spoils it for me.
10. OK brakes
11. Really don't care for the PDK. Buttons on the wheel are strangely set up. There is a button at 3 o'clock and at 9 o'clock, but they both function identically, for drivers who are right handed or left handed. Push with your thumb to upshift, and push from BEHIND the wheel with your index to downshift. Not a great design. Give me a real column mounted paddle shifter.
12. The PDK seems to be designed to coast when you lift off, even in full manual mode in a low gear. I lifted in 2nd and 3rd, and instead of the expected "engine braking" the car just coasted. Not normal.
13. I'll take the 6 spd, but if you get Sport Chrono, I believe you cannot de-activate the automatic rev-matching on downshifts. Not good if you like to double-clutch, like I do.
14. When I got back into my E90 with Dinan mods: intake, exhaust, diff, pulley, Stg III suspension, software, strut brace, toe links and monoballs, it was clear I had a superior car for me. I expected to fall in love with the Cayman before the test drive. Afterward, the M3 sounded way better, the engine is a killer, the HPS was better, and the 6MT was better than the PDK, although not better of course than a manual Porsche. Also significantly more power and torque.
15. Oh yeah, the ride in the Cayman is choppy with its short wheelbase compared to the M3, and can't match the suppleness of the stock M3 suspension. And it certainly can't match the combination of cornering and smoothness of the Dinan Stg III.
16. But it's a light lighter and of course will do better on the track.
17. The M3 is overall more versatile, in that it will do almost as well on the track and better as a DD.
18. If you want a Cayman S, get a used earlier version with the HPS and 6MT
Everyone is entitled to there opinions and overall was a good personal review. I don't find the S motor lacking at all with torque. If you keep it in the revs it goes and is just as on edge as our motors for throttle response. I think these are mainly due to the fact that you drove the PDK with those awful buttons. A manual is the only way to go and the Porsche manual is miles better then ours in the M3. At the very least if you do PDK is to get the sport steering wheel. I felt the motor was lacking with the pdK but once I drove a proper 6 speed that went away. Our motor is definitely stronger on the top end but 0-100 I would say the Porsche would be neck and neck with us. I don't get the critism of the electric-hydraulic system and not all reviewers are getting hung up on this. The steering feel is way better then the M3 you just loose the slight vibrations you would get from a rough road by going to electric-hydraulic. As for the choppiness of the car, what i think you meant is how harsh the ride is, as the car is very planted when throwing it around. It wouldn't be hard to live with at all its has a slightly harsher ride then the M3 but I would forgive that with the handling the cayman provides over the M3. You can heal toe in the manual it just takes some practice as the brake pedal is slightly higher then the gas. The auto rev match down shift is only on when your in sport plus if you stay in sport you can do it all yourself. Sport plus is only availabe if you get the sport chrono package too. Before someone states I am a Porsche fan boy I am not. I have never liked Porsche at all and never knew why so many people admired them. I still don't like the 911 that car does absolutely nothing for me but these new boxsters and caymans are fantastic. I guess just don't give up on the car until you have had a test drive with a 6spd on proper roads and drive the car hard.
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      07-06-2013, 10:00 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soberin View Post
Did an extended test drive this week with the new Cayman S. Stock suspension (no PASM), PDK, no Sport Chrono. A few quick impressions.

1. Very beautiful
2. Great fit and finish
3. More trunk space than I thought
4. Excellent driving position
5. Brake and throttle pedals too far apart for proper heel-toe, unless they are closer together in the 6MT, which would be unlikely, right?
6. Engine not even close to M3 in sound, eagerness to rev or flexibility Not as good, but different and I do like it!
7. Electric power steering really is as bad as the reviews state. More on-center play than in M3, and less feel and feedback. Certainly way worse than the previous Porsche HPS system. A real shame. Hmm..tbh I didn't think it was that bad
8. The car is slow. If you think the M3 has "no torque," which is debatable anyway, you will hate the Cayman S.I'm not sure why you are saying this. The tq is pretty close to the M and it is a lot lighter..I thought it was a pretty good amount, although there could be more
9. Fantastic cornering, no brake dive, super high limits. BUT you have do drive through the weird filtered steering software which spoils it for me.Not sure what you mean..are you talking about the paddles?
10. OK brakes
11. Really don't care for the PDK. Buttons on the wheel are strangely set up. There is a button at 3 o'clock and at 9 o'clock, but they both function identically, for drivers who are right handed or left handed. Push with your thumb to upshift, and push from BEHIND the wheel with your index to downshift. Not a great design. Give me a real column mounted paddle shifter. A 'real' steering wheel is offered, definitely recommend it. Actually HATED the one with the shifters you are talking about
12. The PDK seems to be designed to coast when you lift off, even in full manual mode in a low gear. I lifted in 2nd and 3rd, and instead of the expected "engine braking" the car just coasted. Not normal. This is a feature you can turn off
13. I'll take the 6 spd, but if you get Sport Chrono, I believe you cannot de-activate the automatic rev-matching on downshifts. Not good if you like to double-clutch, like I do.
14. When I got back into my E90 with Dinan mods: intake, exhaust, diff, pulley, Stg III suspension, software, strut brace, toe links and monoballs, it was clear I had a superior car for me. I expected to fall in love with the Cayman before the test drive. Afterward, the M3 sounded way better, the engine is a killer, the HPS was better, and the 6MT was better than the PDK, although not better of course than a manual Porsche. Also significantly more power and torque. You are comparing a modded car to a stock one so I would have to agree with you thinking a modded M3 as yours could feel better than a stock porsche.


15. Oh yeah, the ride in the Cayman is choppy with its short wheelbase compared to the M3, and can't match the suppleness of the stock M3 suspension. And it certainly can't match the combination of cornering and smoothness of the Dinan Stg III. Not as smooth, but still decent
16. But it's a light lighter and of course will do better on the track.
17. The M3 is overall more versatile, in that it will do almost as well on the track and better as a DD.
18. If you want a Cayman S, get a used earlier version with the HPS and 6MT I will have to disagree with you here. The new generation is such an improvement over the older one..why did you favor the 987 to the 981?
Good review!!
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      07-06-2013, 11:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soberin View Post
Did an extended test drive this week with the new Cayman S. Stock suspension (no PASM), PDK, no Sport Chrono. A few quick impressions.

1. Very beautiful
2. Great fit and finish
3. More trunk space than I thought
4. Excellent driving position
5. Brake and throttle pedals too far apart for proper heel-toe, unless they are closer together in the 6MT, which would be unlikely, right?
6. Engine not even close to M3 in sound, eagerness to rev or flexibility
7. Electric power steering really is as bad as the reviews state. More on-center play than in M3, and less feel and feedback. Certainly way worse than the previous Porsche HPS system. A real shame.
8. The car is slow. If you think the M3 has "no torque," which is debatable anyway, you will hate the Cayman S.
9. Fantastic cornering, no brake dive, super high limits. BUT you have do drive through the weird filtered steering software which spoils it for me.
10. OK brakes
11. Really don't care for the PDK. Buttons on the wheel are strangely set up. There is a button at 3 o'clock and at 9 o'clock, but they both function identically, for drivers who are right handed or left handed. Push with your thumb to upshift, and push from BEHIND the wheel with your index to downshift. Not a great design. Give me a real column mounted paddle shifter.
12. The PDK seems to be designed to coast when you lift off, even in full manual mode in a low gear. I lifted in 2nd and 3rd, and instead of the expected "engine braking" the car just coasted. Not normal.
13. I'll take the 6 spd, but if you get Sport Chrono, I believe you cannot de-activate the automatic rev-matching on downshifts. Not good if you like to double-clutch, like I do.
14. When I got back into my E90 with Dinan mods: intake, exhaust, diff, pulley, Stg III suspension, software, strut brace, toe links and monoballs, it was clear I had a superior car for me. I expected to fall in love with the Cayman before the test drive. Afterward, the M3 sounded way better, the engine is a killer, the HPS was better, and the 6MT was better than the PDK, although not better of course than a manual Porsche. Also significantly more power and torque.
15. Oh yeah, the ride in the Cayman is choppy with its short wheelbase compared to the M3, and can't match the suppleness of the stock M3 suspension. And it certainly can't match the combination of cornering and smoothness of the Dinan Stg III.
16. But it's a light lighter and of course will do better on the track.
17. The M3 is overall more versatile, in that it will do almost as well on the track and better as a DD.
18. If you want a Cayman S, get a used earlier version with the HPS and 6MT
So would you rate the new Cayman S on par with the 2006-2008 Z4MC? The comfort point you say is on par with the Z4MC.

I like the newer updated Cayman look and could live with less power in a lighter vehicle.

You are comparing a modded M3 to a stock Cayman. Thats apples to oranges, no?
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      07-06-2013, 11:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DevJ View Post
Good review!!
A couple of things re the above posts:

I'm comparing the stock Cayman S to my modded M3 because so many people on this forum have modded vehicles--many even more hard-core than mine. I agree a stock to stock comparison is different of course.

I agree the look of the Cayman is terrific.

The engine, although sweet, simply doesn't have the outrageous mechanical sounds of the M3 at 8k.

The button shifters are terrible, so MT really should be better.

My main reason for the 987 choice is really the HPS, which simply has more feel and feedback than the new EPS. To me, that's the soul of any car--how well can you feel what's going on through the wheel.

I didn't mention price, which may not matter to many people. I paid a bit more than 60K for a new 09 E90, and then had fun with mods. Do I really want to pay close to 90K for a new Cayman S?
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      07-06-2013, 12:06 PM   #8
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Enjoyed the read however you're comparing your experience in the Cayman to a full modded stage III M3? We need a review from someone comparing stock to stock.
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      07-06-2013, 12:47 PM   #9
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Cayman S: PDK with sport plus & sports exhaust is all you really need! the car equipped this way felt honestly better then my M3, and i am not saying this just to be that "guy" but the truth is the truth it's a fantastic car. yes i am a huge porsche fan as well as a bmw m fan. i own a GTS SUV 13" & Bmw m3 13" love them both, but the next car i am going for is that cayman and putting the lime rock on the lift and using it on the weekends! Cayman will be a lease and a DD car and my favorite car in the world the cayenne gts will be only for special occasions in the winter. The summer will be the Mtrezzz! if i had a budget id go for the M3, if i didn't id go for the Cayman S.

Electric steering is gonna end up in every car, so deal with it!!!
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      07-06-2013, 02:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTrezzz View Post
Cayman S: PDK with sport plus & sports exhaust is all you really need! the car equipped this way felt honestly better then my M3, and i am not saying this just to be that "guy" but the truth is the truth it's a fantastic car. yes i am a huge porsche fan as well as a bmw m fan. i own a GTS SUV 13" & Bmw m3 13" love them both, but the next car i am going for is that cayman and putting the lime rock on the lift and using it on the weekends! Cayman will be a lease and a DD car and my favorite car in the world the cayenne gts will be only for special occasions in the winter. The summer will be the Mtrezzz! if i had a budget id go for the M3, if i didn't id go for the Cayman S.

Electric steering is gonna end up in every car, so deal with it!!!
You're quite right about EPS--I really am concerned about the new M3.
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      07-07-2013, 10:26 AM   #11
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You really are missing out with no pasm and sports exhaust. Pasm is a massive difference.

I drove a manual with those options and it was fantastic. I'd say the power was slightly less than the m3, but the handling and steering was far superior as was ride quality. Plus the interior materials were superior.

Interesting review.
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      07-28-2013, 01:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soberin View Post
Did an extended test drive this week with the new Cayman S. Stock suspension (no PASM), PDK, no Sport Chrono. A few quick impressions.

1. Very beautiful
2. Great fit and finish
3. More trunk space than I thought
4. Excellent driving position
5. Brake and throttle pedals too far apart for proper heel-toe, unless they are closer together in the 6MT, which would be unlikely, right?
6. Engine not even close to M3 in sound, eagerness to rev or flexibility
7. Electric power steering really is as bad as the reviews state. More on-center play than in M3, and less feel and feedback. Certainly way worse than the previous Porsche HPS system. A real shame.
8. The car is slow. If you think the M3 has "no torque," which is debatable anyway, you will hate the Cayman S.
9. Fantastic cornering, no brake dive, super high limits. BUT you have do drive through the weird filtered steering software which spoils it for me.
10. OK brakes
11. Really don't care for the PDK. Buttons on the wheel are strangely set up. There is a button at 3 o'clock and at 9 o'clock, but they both function identically, for drivers who are right handed or left handed. Push with your thumb to upshift, and push from BEHIND the wheel with your index to downshift. Not a great design. Give me a real column mounted paddle shifter.
12. The PDK seems to be designed to coast when you lift off, even in full manual mode in a low gear. I lifted in 2nd and 3rd, and instead of the expected "engine braking" the car just coasted. Not normal.
13. I'll take the 6 spd, but if you get Sport Chrono, I believe you cannot de-activate the automatic rev-matching on downshifts. Not good if you like to double-clutch, like I do.
14. When I got back into my E90 with Dinan mods: intake, exhaust, diff, pulley, Stg III suspension, software, strut brace, toe links and monoballs, it was clear I had a superior car for me. I expected to fall in love with the Cayman before the test drive. Afterward, the M3 sounded way better, the engine is a killer, the HPS was better, and the 6MT was better than the PDK, although not better of course than a manual Porsche. Also significantly more power and torque.
15. Oh yeah, the ride in the Cayman is choppy with its short wheelbase compared to the M3, and can't match the suppleness of the stock M3 suspension. And it certainly can't match the combination of cornering and smoothness of the Dinan Stg III.
16. But it's a light lighter and of course will do better on the track.
17. The M3 is overall more versatile, in that it will do almost as well on the track and better as a DD.
18. If you want a Cayman S, get a used earlier version with the HPS and 6MT
So here is the second part of the review if you are interested. Now it's important to remember my mindset, as I was prepared to be blown away by the car.

Yesterday I drove the Cayman S with manual, PASM, Sport Chrono, 20 inch Pirelli P Zeros, and Sport exhaust. Outrageous fly yellow color. Impressions to be added to my post above, which was the Cayman S, PDK, no PASM, no Sport Chrono, and no Sport Exhaust.

I don't instruct, but I do multiple track days per year in my E90 M3 as well as a full race-ready Spec Miata.

1. Even more beautiful in Yellow.

2. PASM doesn't do jack at legal speeds on the road.

3. Sport Chrono is BS, as I double clutch normally, and don't "need no stinkin' computer" to rev-match for me.

4. Electric power steering still sucks--there are INCHES of play in the wheel until you are at 75 to 80 mph, and the computer has removed all the important feedback and feel. Not fun.

5. The pedal placement SUCKS. The throttle is too far to the right, as well as too low, so heel-toe double clutching is almost impossible. My foot kept sliding off the brake. In the M3, it's much much easier to get the side of the right foot (not the heel, as "heel-toe is a misnomer, but you all know that) to blip the gas.

6. The clutch effort is stupid heavy, especially compared to the M3, which is probably too light. But the Cayman's clutch effort is too high for my 500 miles a week of DD.

7. No way this engine sounds or revs like the S65. No way.

8. Over $83,000 for this new Cayman. You decide.


Now, after we got back to the dealer lot, there was a 911 Carrera 4 GTS sitting there. 2012 model, new, and with Hydraulic steering of course. Also with PASM. So I asked the dealer for a test ride in that baby, thinking that I would be really impressed. Nope.

1. Lighter clutch than the Cayman. Better clutch takeup than M3

2. 408 HP, so it ain't slow.

3. Love the AWD.

4. Hydraulic steering has the wheel vibrating in your hands, but still too light for my tastes. I was expecting go-kart or Lotus. No way. Not even close to my EVO VIII MR. Sorry all P car guys.

5. $105,000. You decide.
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      07-28-2013, 01:52 PM   #13
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wow this is discouraging about the Cayman S...I'm now more intrigued to test drive to see for myself.
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      07-28-2013, 03:29 PM   #14
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Test drove the new Cayman S as well, the M3 is much better car for the same amount of money.

After 45 minutes of test drive I got off the Cayman tired. you really need to wring its neck to make it moving. Car is very noisy, and it's an exhaust noise not engine noise. It's cramped, very stiff, but didn't feel more nimble than the M3 around some high speed roundabouts.

Not impressed.


I test drove a Panamera GTS as well. Now that's an impressive car...the V8 sound track is godly, steering on par with the M3 and incredible planted on high speed roundabouts...very playful car...despite the AWD, I could make the rear step out a bit
The price though is the deal breaker
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      07-28-2013, 03:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brava09 View Post
Test drove the new Cayman S as well, the M3 is much better car for the same amount of money.

After 45 minutes of test drive I got off the Cayman tired. you really need to wring its neck to make it moving. Car is very noisy, and it's an exhaust noise not engine noise. It's cramped, very stiff, but didn't feel more nimble than the M3 around some high speed roundabouts.

Not impressed.


I test drove a Panamera GTS as well. Now that's an impressive car...the V8 sound track is godly, steering on par with the M3 and incredible planted on high speed roundabouts...very playful car...despite the AWD, I could make the rear step out a bit
The price though is the deal breaker

I have never driven a Panamera, but I do agree with you about the noise from the Cayman vs the M3. The beauty of the M3 are the fabulous mechanical noises that come from the engine right in front of your face. Exhaust noises in cars are fine ( I have the rather modest Dinan ), but really are not as satisfying as the engine itself.
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      07-28-2013, 05:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SROC5 View Post
wow this is discouraging about the Cayman S...I'm now more intrigued to test drive to see for myself.
Well I might be a bit harsh, but I was just not that impressed, regardless of price. When you figure in the cost--forget it. I'm certainly interested in other driving impressions of course.
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      07-28-2013, 07:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soberin View Post
Well I might be a bit harsh, but I was just not that impressed, regardless of price. When you figure in the cost--forget it. I'm certainly interested in other driving impressions of course.
On the other hand, this review makes me feel better I have the M3 and not the new Cayman S, or at least further provides reason why I'd need both in my garage
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      07-28-2013, 07:48 PM   #18
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Instead of spending near $90K on a Cayman S, I'd get a used E9x M3 for $50k and a Lotus Elise for around $35k.
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      07-28-2013, 07:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SROC5 View Post
On the other hand, this review makes me feel better I have the M3 and not the new Cayman S, or at least further provides reason why I'd need both in my garage
I absolutely loved the Boxster when I test drove it (base, MT, no options). It's such a fun car and looked fantastic. I love it and would gladly own one BUT:
1) I'd never replace my M3 with it
2) I built one online and mine came out to $78k. Way too much money IMHO. They don't hold their value that well (unlike the 911)

IMHO, I think it's the perfect car to compliment the M3. I'd love an E90 M3 and Cayman S combo. But the numbers ($$$) just don't work.

Def worth a test drive though. Absolutely love that car.
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      07-28-2013, 08:27 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by F1Venom View Post
Instead of spending near $90K on a Cayman S, I'd get a used E9x M3 for $50k and a Lotus Elise for around $35k.
Great idea. Of course you need the 90K.
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      07-28-2013, 09:42 PM   #21
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Nice review and some interesting points. Your car is modded similarly to mine so I find your impressions particularly relevant. Thanks for the write up
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      07-28-2013, 10:24 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Endless619 View Post
So would you rate the new Cayman S on par with the 2006-2008 Z4MC? The comfort point you say is on par with the Z4MC.

I like the newer updated Cayman look and could live with less power in a lighter vehicle.

You are comparing a modded M3 to a stock Cayman. Thats apples to oranges, no?

Not if the modded M3 cost the same as the stock Porsche..... just sayin IMHO
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