First the good news. With PCM 3.0, Porsche finally has a competitive infotainment platform. It’s not the slickest or most advanced. It falls well short, for instance, of the likes of the latest BMW iDrive and ConnectedDrive systems in terms of connectivity capabilities and features. However, it’s well tuned for usability thanks to the large touch-screen and gets the job done in a robust, fuss free manner. In particular, the simple but effective iPod and USB memory support gives the Cayman thoroughly modern audio playback functionality.
We’re also pleased to report the Cayman maintains Porsche’s reputation for building really usable sports cars. If anything that reputation is enhanced thanks to the Cayman’s dual personality. With the PASM chassis in the softer setting and the PDK gearbox in auto mode, it’s a supple, relaxing GT. Flick the switch to Sport, take control of the PDK box and it becomes a hardcore driver’s tool. It’s almost two cars for the price of one, which is just as well when you consider the price tag.
Nevertheless, PCM 3.0 does suffer a number of distinct shortcomings. The Bluetooth phone interface desperately needs an urgent overhaul to provide support for a wider range of handsets, for starters. What’s more, the main touch-screen really deserves an upgrade to a higher resolution LCD panel.
However, the real problem with the Cayman’s in-car tech isn’t what it does or how it does it. It’s the cost. Imagine you’ve ponied up £1,904 for PCM. Then you’ve upgraded the audio with Sound Package Plus (another £345). You might therefore think you are good to go with a fully featured infotainment solution – but no. If you want iPod and USB support, you must pay an extra £217. Bluetooth telephony is a further £512. All in, the infotainment kit in our test car came to just under £3,000 and even then it didn’t include the voice control package.
While comparable options from other premium brands may often be nearly as expensive, you’ll typically also get more features and functionality for your money than PCM. However, it’s when you consider the price of some of the Cayman’s drivetrain and chassis options that the cost of PCM looks really out of control. Take the PDK twin-clutch gearbox. That’s a serious piece of advanced engineering. But it’s yours for under £2,000. Likewise, the PASM active damping is just £1,008. In that context, £3,000 for a slightly mediocre infotainment system is tough to swallow.
Admittedly, Porsche applying a punitive pricing scheme to option list items is nothing new. It’s one of the reasons why it’s the world’s most profitable car company. Moreover, a car like the Cayman is bought as much with the heart as the head. And yet it would still sweeten the deal on what is undoubtedly a lovely car if Porsche could adopt a slightly more reasonable pricing policy for its in-car technology. We can only hope.