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Saturday, Feb 13, 2016

Thrill riding in Porsche's Cayman S

Take a deep breath, and repeat after me: Porsche Doppel-Kupplungsgetriebe.

While it may sound like Gov. Schwarzenegger ordering meatballs and gravy at his local Austrian eaterie, it's actually the name of Porsche's remarkable new 7-speed, double-clutch automatic transmission.

They call it PDK for short, and it's one of the highlights of Porsche's latest and greatest 165 mph Cayman S rocketship I've been driving.

I'll save you the techno-babble, but what this $3,420 option delivers is speed-of-light shifting and right-now responsiveness. It makes a conventional manual transmission feel like something off Fred Flintstone's Flintmobile.

It only heightens the hedonistic, finger-lickin' joy of thrashing this pocket-sized Porsche along some rural two-lane. Or around that awesome on-ramp from Gandy onto Interstate 275 South.

Last year's mini make-over saw the Cayman's 3.4 six-cylinder get a useful power hike from 295-hp up to a meaty 320-hp. Enough to cut its blast-off time from zero to 60 mph to a blistering 4.6 seconds.

And, as is the way with almost every Porsche technical improvement, there's a side-by-side improvement in efficiency. So expect close to 30 to the gallon on the highway.

What I love about this achingly pretty two-door Porsche is its astonishing versatility and ability to reflect and respond to your driving mood.

Want action? Here's a hot-blooded sportscar that will give you a thrill ride to match Sheikra at Busch Gardens.

Want a daily commuter? It's hushed and refined enough to tackle the stop-start dawdle into downtown, soothing you with ventilated leather seats, and a killer Bose sound system.

Want a weekend getaway? There's space for squashy bags in not one but two trunks.

You'll pay $52,150 for the 265-hp 2.9-liter base Cayman, and $61,150 for the gotta-have S.

Either way, you're getting one of the purest, most rewarding driving experiences money can buy.

Tampa-based auto writer Howard Walker can be reached at walkweb@verizon.net.

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