After spending the morning with the sound engineer, I’ve had nothing to do this afternoon – the production crew went on a recce of the various locations and didn’t need me. So, with a Cayman R in my custody and some great roads on my doorstep, it would have been rude not to do for a drive.
I’ve not been to Skye before but my photographer friend Ali Cusick has long raved about it so I had high expectations. And I wasn’t disappointed. The scenery is stunning, especially when the sun shines, which I’m pleased to say it did today, although the weather is very changeable around here. The geography of the place is difficult to work out, as the coastline is a mess of indents and there are other smaller islands nearby, so it’s hard to tell if some mountains on the other side of a stretch of water are part of Skye or not. There are also numerous side roads teasingly signposted to a settlement, but lead to nothing more than a bungalow or two (more than once I had to reverse out of such lanes as there was nowhere to turn).
With a mix of bleak mountains, rocky coastline and lowlands, Skye is a spectacular place to visit. Today, I circumnavigated the northern peninsula, up the east coast to the top and back via Uig (a place as ugly as its name and my only disappointment of the day as I was hoping for a pretty harbour).
Many of the roads are single-track with passing places so not ideal for stretching the Cayman’s legs. No matter, though, as sometimes it’s nice to take things steady and enjoy the views, which I did. When I did find some two-land roads, though, I had a real treat. Wide sweeping bends, no traffic and that background – what could be better for enjoying a Porsche?
And what better Porsche than a Cayman R to enjoy the roads? More compact than a 911 and more compliant than a GT3 RS, the Cayman R was in its element.
At first glance, the Cayman R doesn’t promise much over a Cayman S and, to be honest, the S ticks most boxes very well. The Cayman R offers some advantages, the headline one being a 54kg weight saving. This is thanks to some aluminium body panels, lightweight bucket seats (more comfortable than I’d expected) and centrelock wheels. Stripping out the air-conditioning cuts more weight but at a price – I’m glad I’m in cool Skye and not warm Spain today – while replacing the interior door handles with bits of red tape seems plain silly. There’s also a 10bhp power gain, thanks to a different exhaust, bringing the figure to 325bhp – very respectable in a car that weighs 1370kg.
I’m not sure that I can notice the weight saving but I can notice the firmer suspension and limited-slip differential, both of which serve to enhance the Cayman’s already superb handling. I’m pleased to report that the suspension is not super-hard, it’s firm but compliant enough to cope with the ice-damaged roads of Skye without either rattling my fillings out or knocking the car off line.
The Cayman R’s steering is sublime; super-direct, responsive and positive. It responds faithfully and predictably to throttle inputs, and the car’s mid-engined layout ensures that there are never any nasty surprises. It’s a more useable (and cheaper) machine than the rather extreme 997 GT3 RS with which is shares some DNA. In fact it’s a hard car to fault. Throw in some air-conditioning (it was an option) and proper door handles, and it’d be perfect.