Cayman party preview.

Huge excitement as Porsche reveals the new Cayman to potential customers. But why stress the advantages of mid-engines to an audience of 911 owners?

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No, not the Geneva Motorshow. Porsche really pushed the boat out on Monday night. A laser light show, smoke machines, a cocktail bar, DJ, unlimited champagne (we think, very nice anyway) endless hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. Not forgetting a display of three famous competition cars including the 1970 Le Mans winning 917K. All for a customer preview of the new Cayman at its Hatfield dealership.

After historic footage of oversteering racing 911s, and a long speech on the benefits of the mid-engine configuration, the covers slipped off to reveal the car itself.

It’s quite big. Only four centimetres longer than the old one – a centimetre lower and 30kgs lighter – but the volume of metal has increased substantially. The back is concave where it used to be quite dramatically scooped out. Gone is the delicacy of the finely sculpted rear haunches. It’s more of a man’s car this time. We look forward to getting a clear view.

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When we say Porsche played footage of oversteering racing 911s we really mean it. There weren’t just a few shots of wild Porkers it was almost continuous, including a few spins.

The speech, by a chap from head office, really laboured the point about mid-engines – all the weight within the axles, easier to change direction, etc, etc. Given we didn’t see any Caymans in the car park, didn’t he realise – or care – that probably half of the audience owned a 911, Porsche’s rear-engined performance flagship?

But bearing in mind 911 customers have proven hardily immune to insults – the engineers would have killed it off years ago – maybe emphasising the new car’s engine location isn’t such a foolhardy strategy. Especially considering the Cayman’s likely competition.

Porsche 917K - Kurzheck - winner of the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours, the race that provided the backdrop to Steve McQueen's film Le Mans. Driven by Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood. Powered by a 580bhp 4.5 litre V12. Kurzheck means short tail.

Porsche 917K – Kurzheck – winner of the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours, the race that provided the backdrop to Steve McQueen’s film Le Mans. Driven by Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood. Powered by a 580bhp 4.5 litre V12. Kurzheck means short tail.

Jaguar claims to stake out the land between the Boxster/ Cayman and 911 with its new F-TYPE. Meanwhile, Pistonheads’ Richard Aucock writes convincingly about how the F-TYPE is aimed at the 911. But is Porsche seizing the initiative somewhat by pitching the Cayman full tilt at Jaguar’s unmistakably front-engined two-seater?

The list price of the Cayman S might be £48,783 but spec it with typical options – sports exhaust, PDK, gismos, wheels, electric seats, SatNav – and it costs over £60,000.

That’s bang on F-TYPE money. The six cylinder convertible infamously starts at £58,500.

The big question now is, will the still-unannounced F-TYPE coupe cost more or less than its drop top sibling?

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In an inversion of usual practice Porsche’s Cayman coupe costs £3,400 more than the convertible Boxster.

If the F-TYPE coupe is cheaper than its stablemate then it suddenly looks much better value. Most of the essential Porsche options are standard fit on the Jaguar (convertible, anyway).

Now there’s only the weight to worry about. The F-TYPE so far weighs a hefty 247kg more than the Cayman.

Even if the tin top F-TYPE is more expensive than the drop top it’s likely to be lighter. But by how much?

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