Ask AutoGuide No. 24 – Porsche 911 Carrera vs. Porsche Cayman S


If you’ve got a smartphone you know just how versatile these pocket computers are. They send and receive e-mail, allow you to cruise the internet and can even take pictures, to name but a few of their capabilities. They’re essentially real-life Tricorders from Star Trek.

These versatile devices seem to do just about everything; they’re jacks of all trades. But as multitalented as these things are they don’t really excel at any particular task. Sure, you can listen to music over their tiny speakers, but chances are your favorite tunes will sound much better pumped out of a dedicated HiFi system. Likewise, the web-browsing experience provided by a traditional desktop computer is generally a lot more useful.

Having the right tool is critical for doing the best job possible and making the most of your time. You can mince onions with empty Altoids tin but a sharp knife makes the task so much easier.

Likewise, you can carve corners in a stakebed truck but a proper sports car is vastly superior for delivering copious amounts of driving enjoyment. And that’s just what Trent wrote in asking us about this week.


T-man is a big Porsche fan. He loves new ones, old ones, fast ones and slow ones. He even changed his middle name to “Ferdinand” (not really), an homage to the great engineer himself.

Putting dollars where his oral cavity is, Trent plans to acquire one of Zuffenhausen’s finest. He has about 90 grand to splurge on a brand-new entertainment machine. This may sound like an easy task, but at that price point he’s got a very difficult decision to maker. Is it better to drive home in a heavily optioned Cayman S or an entry-level 911? Let’s explore the differences between these two thoroughbred performance cars.

Suggestion #1 – 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera

Information Card -- Porsche 911 CarreraPorsche’s 911 is one of the most iconic vehicles ever built. It’s been spreading the gospel of driving joy for five consecutive decades. From the simple, air-cooled first-generation to today’s technological tour-de-force, this car has evolved and improved without forgetting its heritage.

From hood to hatch, roof to rockers the Neunelfer is an absolute performance machine. Just like the original, the 2014 iteration features a rear-mounted horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine. In this instance it displaces 3.4-liters and delivers 350 horsepower at an exhilarating 7,400 RPM. Peak torque is 287 lb-ft.

When matched to a seven-speed manual transmission the car can sprint from a standstill to 60 miles an hour in a paltry 4.6 seconds. The available PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) dual-clutch automatic transmission shaves a whopping .2 seconds off that time. Unfortunately, at over $4,000 for the self-shifter, it’s out of Trent’s price range. The car’s top speed is nearly 180 miles an hour. Is that fast enough for you?

SEE ALSO: 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Review

Of course given this car’s history and brand cachet it doesn’t come cheap. Base price for an option-free 911 is $85,295, including $995 in destination and delivery fees; sorry, Baden-Württemberg is a long way away.

Aside from a screaming boxer-six and a silky seven-speed manual transmission what else does the bargain-basement 911 have to offer? Well, truthfully not very much.

The car rides on unassuming 19-inch alloy wheels. Front and rear it’s equipped with four-piston aluminum brake calipers that are dressed in black. Power windows, rain-sensing windshield wipers, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control are also included at no extra charge, as are four-way power sport seats, yes, FOUR-WAY! Lastly, the car’s glass is slathered in a special water-repellant coating; we’re not sure what it is but vegetable shortening seems plausible.


Put it all in motion and the 911 shows its impeccable pedigree. The car is super refined and very easy to drive at ludicrous speeds. This is a classic example of getting what you pay for. Put them both on a track and the Cayman will feel quick, the 911 fast; it’s a much more serious performance machine.

Suggestion #2 – 2014 Porsche Cayman S… With Options!Information Card -- Porsche Cayman S

Compared to its legendary stable-mate the Porsche Cayman S starts at a much more reasonable $64,795, including shipping and handling. That gives you about 20 grand to play with when it comes to options, which is the price of a decent compact car.

Before diving into some of the Cayman’s available and very desirable extras here are a few of the basics about of this sporty coupe. Like the 911 it’s powered by an aft-mounted flat-six engine. With 3.4-liter’s worth of displacement it puts out 325 ponies and 273 lb-ft of torque. As for gearboxes, it can be paired to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed PDK.

Out and about the Cayman feels a little nimbler than the 911; arguably it’s more of a driver’s car. However, it’s neither as fast nor as prestigious. Still, performance is damn impressive. With a stick-shift the dash to 60 takes 4.7 seconds; top speed is 175 MPH.

Now for some goodies. Trent has 20 big ones to spend on his potential Cayman, what options should he get? Well, for starters the 20-inch Carrera Classic wheels are, in our opinion, the best looking rims Porsche offers on the car, and they cost a mere pittance, just $2,370.

Moving inside he’s just got to get the cow-coated 14-way power sport seats. They add $4,705 to the number at the bottom of the window sticker. Fortunately a two-tone leather-lined interior is a no-charge extra when you opt for these fancy chairs. Agate Grey and Amber Orange make a striking combination, though there are other color choices if Trent is more mainstream than that.

Sports car or not, no modern vehicle is complete without cutting-edge connectivity technology. Naturally Porsche charges extra for this. The Infotainment Package with Bose surround sound is $3,990, and if you can believe it’s not the most expensive one on the menu!

SEE ALSO: 2014 Porsche Cayman S Review

To spare dented or scratched bumpers, front and rear park assist is a must, and best of all it’s only $860! For less than a grand you’d be a fool not to get this helpful feature.

Now this is all well and good, but you’re probably getting a little hot under the collar since we haven’t opted for any performance upgrades. Well, just hold your proverbial ponies for a jiffy and we’ll check a few more boxes. First up is the Sport Chrono Package, which will set you back $1,850. Among other things it gives you dynamic transmission mounts, an analogue AND digital stop watch so you can monitor your lap times as well as a Sport Plus button that changes how the car drives.


Next is the Sport Exhaust system. It’d be a shame to not let that boxer-six sing its lungs out. This $2,825 extra is worth the expense, especially since it’s got a driver-selectable switch and special stainless steel twin-tube tailpipes. The last item on our list is a manual transmission, and it’s FREE!

With all of these goodies the Cayman S stickers for $85,135 out the door, with $995 in destination and delivery fees of course. That’s 160 bucks less than the bare-bones 911. Of course there are literally dozens of other options you can get… if you’re willing to cut a big enough check.


This is a tough decision. Both of these cars are incredible pieces of engineering. They both deliver tanker truck-loads of driving enjoyment and classic styling with healthy servings of prestige. But is there a definitive winner? In our opinion no, you can’t really go wrong with either one. However, if it were our money we’d spring for an optioned-up Cayman S over the entry-level 911. The Neunelfer is of course a legend and a widely respected machine but the Cayman will deliver essentially identical performance with lots of extras, plus the unwashed masses probably can’t tell the two cars apart so why spend more for less? The Cayman S is our choice.

As always, good luck in your quest for a new Porsche, Trent, and thanks again for taking the time to Ask AutoGuide.

If you need a little assistance shopping for your next vehicle feel free to do the same. Send a short message to [email protected] Let us know the basics of what you’re looking for. How many seats do you need? What size of vehicle do you want? How much are you willing to spend? With some of those fundamentals out of the way we’ll get busy to come up with two or three must-see vehicles that you’ll have to put on your test-drive list.

1 Comment

Sean Alexander says:

You chose wisely my son.