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Old 03-18-2014, 12:24 PM   #1
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Talking BRZ vs S2000 vs Cayman S (my take)

Long time coming, but here's my write up after owning the Cayman for 4 months


BRZ vs S2000 vs Cayman S

Both the S2000 and Cayman S have been compared ad nauseum to the Twins on this (and other) message forums. As I have now had experience owning all three I thought perhaps my views could help give others insight into future car purchases (or reinforce how they already feel about their current vehicle). First I will summarize each vehicle’s history with me before jumping into the pros/cons of each.

I purchased my bright red 2007 S2000 in, December of ’08, with only 4800 miles on the odometer. She was flawless, in almost brand new condition. Hell, I’m pretty sure the heat had never been used before I turned it on that very day. This was my first RWD car of any type, sports or otherwise. In true Honda fashion this car had rock solid reliability – only trouble spots were accelerated wear on the vinyl top (wore out twice before reaching 60,000 miles) and the CD player stopped working (odd given I hardly used it). The driving experience was fantastic. Very visceral and raw, with gokart like handling. The engine was a jewel – very smooth, and spun like a top up to its 8100 rpm fuel cut off. The engine sound was tame in my opinion, something I fixed with the installation of an Invidia exhaust. I loved the focused cockpit of the interior (definitely deserving of the cockpit label). Everything important was just a finger’s reach from the steering wheel, and there were no distractions. And let’s not forget about that glorious gear shifter – what a work of art, in appearance and function. It honestly baffles the mind that Honda’s gear shifters are superior to those in cars costing double, triple or even quadruple. Only issues I had with the interior were space related; I am 6’2” and could have greatly benefited from another 1-2 inches of leg room. This was my first sports car, but after 55,000 miles and 49 months I was looking to make a change in my life. I had yearned for more horsepower for a while, and a coupe. However due to a few changes in my personal life I thought it would be best to get something more practical, even if it meant less power.

Enter a Satin White Pearl BRZ Limited. From the start I knew this car’s powertrain would never impress me, but I was smitten with the handling and steering feel. And a tiny rear seat that folds into the trunk was a huge bonus. The car’s styling was fantastic, though to be fair I still felt the S2000 was a more attractive design. The brakes felt considerably stronger than the S2000s (hardware carried over from the WRX – finally some rear vented rotors). I don’t place much importance on creature comforts but the Bluetooth connectivity, heated seats, and keyless entry were very nice touches. I had always been perfectly fine with the S2000’s interior, but after being in a BRZ the S2000’s looked positively Spartan, and a bit cramped. The BRZ was a considerably quieter vehicle, and was much better for long trips. Some people have complained about the Twins transmission having short gearing but I thought it was just about perfect and prevented the necessity to constantly downshift at interstate speeds for passing maneuvers. The BRZ’s steering wheel is fantastic. Just the right diameter and thickness and while the power assist is unfortunately electric in natural I felt it offered better weight and feel than the S2000’s rack (itself also an EPS unit). The shifter itself isn’t as nice as the S2000’s, nor was its shifting action. However it is still far superior to most shifters one encounters in automobiles of sporting nature.

Unfortunately it only took a few months to realize the power level of the FA20 just wasn’t satisfactory for me. I loved the efficiency of the engine, as beating the EPA ratings proved easy to do. However, I was more than happy to trade some of that efficiency for additional power. Enter the addition of an Innovate Stage 1 supercharger (7 psi), unequal length RevWorks SS header, and Nameless over and front pipes. These modifications helped with the sound and power. Had that nice boxer burble and while the peak power gain wasn’t impressive from a numbers POV the additional power (and torque) under the curve made a bit difference. Power application wasn’t as smooth as OEM, but was still quite enjoyable (and with the windows up the supercharger whine was fun to listen to). Still, I felt like it should have felt faster…and boy did the gas mileage tank. 28-29 averages turned into 22-23 mpg, with highway mpg dropping from 34-36 to 29-30. Didn’t think the hit would be that big, but either way just a minor annoyance.

Unfortunately, as has been previously documented on this forum, I “totaled” the BRZ in November and the insurance company settled with me. At that point I considered a wide variety of cars (on paper, not in person) but not another BRZ or S2000. I still wanted a coupe, but eliminated the BRZ from the list because I knew I wouldn’t be happy with the power level – and I wasn’t going to modify one again, just didn’t seem like a good use of funds. Before buying my BRZ the year before I had seriously considered the Porsche Cayman S, and test drove a few. Even had one purchased out from under me. That being said, this time around I told myself to just get what you really want, the Cayman S.

Overall I prefer the 987.2 over the 987.1 but the ‘09+ models were out of my price range, so I settled on a nice 2006 Cayman S with 56k miles. A lot of non-Porsche owners love to harp about the engine “problems” of the 987.1 models but if any moderate research is done on the topic one will find it’s nothing to be seriously concerned with. Add to that the long term reliability questions of the newer direct injection engines (987.2) and it’s really a wash. Anyway, the CS…I love this car. I think it is absolutely gorgeous, with flowing curves all over the place. I think it does look slightly odd when you view it directly from the side, but any other angle and it’s just amazing. The interior isn’t as luxurious as one would hope for a car that originally cost $60k+ but it’s well built and no-nonsense, which is fine by me. The driving position is better than any other car I have owned, and plenty of adjustments can be made via the seat or steering wheel. Again, with my height another 1-2” of leg room would be preferable but even on long trips I’ve been comfortable enough. I’ve never owned a RWD car with hydraulic powered steering and…the steering of this car is just tops, so great. Likewise the engine is really something, more powerful than anything I have owned and it sounds fantastic when you’re really beating on it. Throttle response is pretty good, and even better if put into Sport mode. You don’t have to shift as much to accelerate quickly (6 gear at highway speeds is just fine for pulling away from annoying and/or slow drivers) but when one does shift I’ll admit the feel or action isn’t as good as the S2000 or BRZ. A kit could probably remedy this a bit. The last part of the equation, the brakes…well it’s a Porsche. Incredibly powerful and not much else needs to be said. All said and done I love this car and intend to keep her for a very long time.

The breakdown:

Running Cost:
1. BRZ – new car warranty, superb fuel efficiency, though depreciation will hit hard
2. S2000 – depreciating slowly, parts & labor reasonably priced
3. Cayman – depreciating slowly, parts & labor comparatively expensive

Reliability:

1. S2000 – it’s a Honda
2. Cayman – Porsches are well made, but when something does break/wear out it’s not cheap
3. BRZ - has well documented engine problems that Subaru seems to have no interest addressing

Interior comforts:
1. BRZ – not surprising since newest
2. Cayman – similar to S2000’s Spartan take, but better seats, more storage spots
3. S2000 – power windows and AC are comforts, right?


Interior layout:
1. S2000 – most driver focused
2. Cayman – best driving position & outward view
3. BRZ – tall dashboard, higher hood and thicker pillars than others

Interior room:
1. BRZ – plenty of leg room
2. Cayman – needs more leg room, but more seat & steering wheel adjustability than S2000
3. S2000 – needs more leg room

Stereo:
1. Cayman - 9 speakers, good bass
2. BRZ & S2000 tied – BRZ’s more powerful, but had pesky speaker vibrations. S2000’s not strong enough

Styling (of course this is subjective):
1. Cayman – curves curves curves, low hood thanks to MR configuration)
2. S2000 – classic roadster look mixed with purposeful & taunt curves
3. BRZ - great modern design, but draconian pedestrian crash regs hurt front end styling

Exclusivity (not to be snobbish, but not everyone wants to see their car everywhere, a la Mustang:
1. Cayman (when referring to the 987 model itself – if for all Caymans past and present they will most likely be seen more often than the discontinued S2000)
2. S2000
3. BRZ

Engine:
1. Cayman – power, smoothness & exhaust note
2. S2000 - high rev nature and power
3. BRZ – yay fuel efficiency?

Transmission:
1. S2000 – really no explanation needed
2. BRZ
3. Cayman

Steering:
1. Cayman
2. BRZ - more feel & better weighting than S2000
3. S2000 – numb at times

Handling:
1. Cayman – very planted and communicable, highest limits (which yes, tires are a factor)
2. BRZ – overall benign and predictable (no jokes about me crashing it please)
3. S2000 – can be snappy at limit

Braking:
1. Cayman – no explanation needed
2. BRZ – beefy units given car’s adequate power levels
3. S2000 – less heat sink capacity than slower BRZ


Cargo Capacity:
1. BRZ – fold down seats seal the deal
2. Cayman - 2 trunks better than 1, dog can chill on engine hump if need be
3. S2000 - small trunk, no room for dog if carrying 2 people

Fuel efficiency:
1. BRZ – 2 liter engine, DI - 28/34 mpg in my hands
2. Cayman - gas mileage not as good as S2000, but good given performance – 21/25
3. S2000 - 22/27


Fun to drive:
1. Cayman - extra thrust makes all the difference
2. S2000 – gokart handling, screaming engine, drop top
3. BRZ - handling isn’t everything, needs more power

Best for long road trip:
1. BRZ – extra creature comforts and greatly superior highway gas mileage
2. Cayman – worst gas mileage but most planted car at speed, also best cruise control
3. S2000 – loudest, limited seat adjustability

Naturally this is all just mostly my opinion, and my views may be slightly biased (owned S2000 the longest, always lusted for Cayman S, purchased BRZ with a “compromised” mindset). However I hope my point of view will help others get an idea of the experience of owning each and what might be best for them if considering purchasing any (or switching from one to another). Again, all three cars are fantastic and even if I ranked one higher than another for better ____ it’s not to say that the loser was bad at _____, just not as good. All three are great sports cars that are fun to drive and put a smile on the driver’s face. If my commentary dragged on a bit too long I apologize but I wanted to include every point that I felt was necessary. Enjoy!
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:30 PM   #2
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Have you driven a 981? I'd love some input on that versus your 987. Specifically steering, as the 981 moved to EPS a la the other cars in this comparison.

Thank you for your review!
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:31 PM   #3
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Nice write up. How about some pictures?
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:34 PM   #4
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good unbiased review
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:47 PM   #5
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Sounds like you need a boosted s2k with a solid state amp under the passenger seat, upgraded speakers, and a push/pull system in the trunk :p

Can't deny that the Cayman is an excellent car though; I've had a lot of friends buy used ones and love them.
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Old 03-18-2014, 01:02 PM   #6
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Out of curiosity, as far as the road trip gas mileage is concerned, have you taken yours on the highway much yet? Mine seems to absolutely love highway cruising, and I've seen easily 26-28mpg at 80+mph on the interstate. Of course, city gas mileage is pretty awful, so most of the time, I see 22mpg or so combined (and I've seen 18 or even worse if I do a lot of city driving). I also have to disagree with you about the stereo - I find the Cayman's stereo to be mediocre at best. Does yours have the Bose, or the standard speakers?

Good overall writeup though - it's definitely nice to hear the comparison from the perspective of someone who has owned all 3.
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Old 03-18-2014, 02:18 PM   #7
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I too was in the market for a used Cayman S (still might be lol) when I was shopping for the BRZ. My only gripe about the Cayman is the weight and perhaps handling potential. I can't imagine a modded BRZ with BBK, suspension, and tires being outhandled by the Cayman. Will doing the same mods on the Cayman increase its handling prowess dramatically? Power is a different story, but since the car is DD, you can't go that fast on the street anyways.

Also, the Cayman S buttonwillow times seen on youtube doesn't seem to be that fast... Was expecting it to be 2:01 or 2:00 stock and not the 2:08-2:11... yea driver is a factor, but would love to see faster buttonwillow times when properly driven.
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Old 03-18-2014, 03:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OrbitalEllipses View Post
Have you driven a 981? I'd love some input on that versus your 987. Specifically steering, as the 981 moved to EPS a la the other cars in this comparison.

Thank you for your review!
Actually yes I have driven the 981. I had one for 24 hours when my car was having a new catalytic convertor installed (under warranty). It was a Cayman S model equipped with Sport Chrono, PDK, sport exhaust with dual mode exhaust sound, 20" wheels, navigation, heated/cooled seats and probably a few other things I wasn't even aware of. It was a blast to drive and the PDK was impressive (my first time driving one). In Sport Plus mode the shifts were lightning fast and the exhaust notably louder. HOWEVER, the steering feel from 987 to 981 was night and day. The 981 was numb in comparison.

The 981 has a considerably nicer interior with a lot more features, not to mention more horsepower than my 987 but I was happy to get back into my car. Besides the steering feel I also prefer the exterior styling of my car (Not a big fan of the rectangular-ish front headlights of the 981). I wouldn't turn down a 981 if someone gave me one, but I'd probably prefer a 2012 Cayman R instead


Quote:
Originally Posted by BRZranger View Post
Nice write up. How about some pictures?
Sure thing, gimme a sec...

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisl View Post
Out of curiosity, as far as the road trip gas mileage is concerned, have you taken yours on the highway much yet? Mine seems to absolutely love highway cruising, and I've seen easily 26-28mpg at 80+mph on the interstate. Of course, city gas mileage is pretty awful, so most of the time, I see 22mpg or so combined (and I've seen 18 or even worse if I do a lot of city driving). I also have to disagree with you about the stereo - I find the Cayman's stereo to be mediocre at best. Does yours have the Bose, or the standard speakers?

Good overall writeup though - it's definitely nice to hear the comparison from the perspective of someone who has owned all 3.
I purchased the car in Macon, GA and live in Raleigh, so I have driven it on the highway for up to 4 1/2 hours at a time. The best I've been able to do is 27 mpg, and that was when averaging 60-65 mph. When cruising at 75-80 25 has been my best, and that's without the AC. I didn't mention this above, and I suppose it deserves a giant asterisk, but unbeknownst to me when I bought my car, the ECU has been reflashed. The local Porsche dealership up here informed me of such. So my car may be up a few ponies at the expense of some fuel efficiency.

pics as requested!




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Old 03-18-2014, 03:48 PM   #9
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Very nice writeup. I would love a Cayman S as my fun car. Gorgeous car. But with three young kids I don't see it happening. My WRX will be paid off in less than 2 years and I am seriously considering an S2K or a used FR-S/BRZ as my fun car in a few years. I have always wanted an S2K, but they are not practical here for about half the year and a decent one will be harder to find in the rust belt.

Is your Cayman your daily driver?
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Old 03-18-2014, 03:53 PM   #10
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~*words*~
Nice writeup! I, too, considered a 987 when I was car shopping, but axed it due to the lack of rear pseudo-seats and shortage of contiguous cargo space-- having two trunks is nice if you're bringing an assortment of small, soft items, but doesn't help at all if you need to move a bulky object of any kind. Not that the BRZ has all that much cargo room, but it's definitely better off with those rears folded down.

Just out of curiosity, do you feel that your Cayman and the BRZ have a similar overall driving feel in terms of difficulty / sense of occasion? Or are they both just sweet-handling, easy to drive, modern cars? I ask because I remember driving a Boxster at MRLS at one point and I was shocked how easy it was to drive (I remember it being a lot like my BRZ, actually... super forgiving with great handling, but down on power).

I'm currently really conflicted about my own BRZ: it handles wonderfully after some suspension work and it's a lot of fun to drive, but in some ways I almost find it boring. With the suspension tweaks and a set of Super Sports the car just grips and goes in a pretty drama-free fashion. It's very quick for what it is, the handling is there, and I don't necessarily mind the lack of power-- I think it's plenty quick for the street, although some more torque would be nice-- but it's almost too easy to drive. It feels like the car doesn't really call you out for driving sloppily and doesn't really demand much of the driver, which usually wouldn't sound like a criticism, but is becoming a point of criticism for me.

Anyway, I've always loved Porsches and am considering trading my BRZ for one, but I'm really not sure if I'd like a water-cooled one at all. I autox'ed a 997 at one point --years ago-- but can't remember clearly what that drove like (just that it rotated nicely under trail-braking). I'm concerned that if I were to get a recent Porsche I might end up similarly bored with it, as modern ones just seem so fast and capable that I suspect they might feel a little too straightforward on the street. Do you feel like your Cayman is as easy to drive casually to drive as your BRZ was?
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Old 03-18-2014, 04:01 PM   #11
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I too was in the market for a used Cayman S (still might be lol) when I was shopping for the BRZ. My only gripe about the Cayman is the weight and perhaps handling potential. I can't imagine a modded BRZ with BBK, suspension, and tires being outhandled by the Cayman. Will doing the same mods on the Cayman increase its handling prowess dramatically? Power is a different story, but since the car is DD, you can't go that fast on the street anyways.

Also, the Cayman S buttonwillow times seen on youtube doesn't seem to be that fast... Was expecting it to be 2:01 or 2:00 stock and not the 2:08-2:11... yea driver is a factor, but would love to see faster buttonwillow times when properly driven.
What year was the Cayman..? They get faster with each iteration..
On the street the FRS will give you as much , if not more entertainment..
And for the price... It's an outstanding value.
On the track, at speed and nearing the limits.. The P car would be the one to have..
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Old 03-18-2014, 09:15 PM   #12
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Nice review. I would love to try out a Cayman S. I really like my S2000 a lot. Only had it since the beginning of January. Top down driving is actually pretty fun, and that's not something I cared about at all before getting it. The 360° visibility and hearing the engine with the top down just adds something extra that is fun.

Personally, I think the FRS/BRZ looks the best out of all 3 cars. I like the more S15/RX7-ish sleek, aggressive tuner car looks... but the Cayman is more grown up and classy, and the S is somewhere in between the two.

The S2000 handles really well, and I'd love to add forced induction, but I don't think I'll be able to hold out if a factory FI FRS comes out. The smooth, tossable, easy to drift nature of it offers something different from the S2000. If they don't come out with something at least as quick as an S2K, I'll be taking a look at the Nissan IDx in a few years, although I don't particularly like its looks and would rather have an S16....
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Old 03-18-2014, 09:21 PM   #13
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Nice review. I would love to try out a Cayman S. I really like my S2000 a lot. Only had it since the beginning of January. Top down driving is actually pretty fun, and that's not something I cared about at all before getting it. The 360° visibility and hearing the engine with the top down just adds something extra that is fun.

Personally, I think the FRS/BRZ looks the best out of all 3 cars. I like the more S15/RX7-ish sleek, aggressive tuner car looks... but the Cayman is more grown up and classy, and the S is somewhere in between the two.

The S2000 handles really well, and I'd love to add forced induction, but I don't think I'll be able to hold out if a factory FI FRS comes out. The smooth, tossable, easy to drift nature of it offers something different from the S2000. If they don't come out with something at least as quick as an S2K, I'll be taking a look at the Nissan IDx in a few years, although I don't particularly like its looks and would rather have an S16....
Off topic:

Have you tried driving air box cover off?
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Old 03-18-2014, 09:27 PM   #14
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Off topic:

Have you tried driving air box cover off?
Nope. It's a totally stock Suzuka Blue AP2. Haven't done anything at all to it yet. Been drooling over the HKS Supercharger... haha
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