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The Porsche Cayman shares much of its midengine mechanicals with the second-generation Boxster, but its more rigid structure results in an even more capable driving machine. The Cayman combines sharp, responsive handling, outstanding braking capability and a choice of two engines that will enthusiastically sing as they slingshot you down the straightaway. With the introduction of the latest, larger iteration of the Porsche 911, it's clearer than ever that the Cayman is the car that best personifies the Porsche tradition of high performance from a compact, lightweight package.
If we have a complaint, it's that the Cayman is priced considerably higher than its competitors, especially when you select a useful number of options from Porsche's list. But when it comes to providing a combination of all-around performance, intuitive driver interaction, day-to-day comfort and desirable prestige, we can't think of a better car in this segment than the Porsche Cayman.
Current Porsche Cayman
The midengine Porsche Cayman is offered in three models: the base Cayman, Cayman S, Black Edition and lightweight Cayman R. The base Cayman is powered by a 2.9-liter six-cylinder boxer engine that produces 265 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Step up to the Cayman S and the engine expands to 3.4 liters and power grows to 320 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The Black Edition and Cayman R get a 330-hp version of that engine.
Standard on every model is a six-speed manual transmission, with Porsche's seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual (named PDK) optional. This transmission is capable of operating in full automatic mode or with gearchanges ordered up by the driver via standard wheel-mounted buttons or the preferred, optional wheel-mounted paddles. Regardless of which mode you use, shifts are incredibly quick and smooth. PDK also produces better acceleration and fuel economy.
While the Cayman S Black Edition and Cayman R share an engine, they are very different. The Black Edition is largely just a cosmetic exercise with some black paint, black wheels and some extra standard features. The Cayman R, on the other hand, is a dedicated performance model that strips the Cayman of excess weight in an effort to aid handling and acceleration. From minor things like cloth-strap door releases to major components like air-conditioning (you can still add it and its 26 extra pounds if you see fit), this lighter, meaner Cayman is truly a case of addition by subtraction.
When it comes to the suspension, the Porsche Cayman takes advantage of its stiffer-than-a-convertible structure by offering a level of handling and nimbleness that is a step above the capabilities of the Boxster. Safety aids include antilock brakes, traction control and stability control, all tuned to intervene only when absolutely necessary so as not to detract from the sporting nature of the Cayman. Optional is Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) which, via a variety of sensors, electronically and automatically adjusts the suspension to optimize either comfort or handling, depending on the setting and the driver's level of aggression. Larger wheels and tires round out the suspension options and help to improve braking. Braking performance is further enhanced on the Cayman S by optional carbon-ceramic brakes.
The interior accommodations take their cue from the second-generation Boxster and offer the typical Porsche combination of sport and luxury, with leather and metallic accents decorating the cabin. The leather-appointed seats possess the ability to both hold the driver in place during spirited maneuvers and to coddle driver and passenger during more serene outings. High-end audio and navigation are available, though the base stereo offerings are disappointing for a car in this price range. Cargo room is generous for such a small and sporting vehicle, as the midengine layout allows for both fore and aft cargo areas that together equal the trunk space of a midsize family sedan.
Used Porsche Cayman Models
The Porsche Cayman debuted in the 2006 model year. For the first year, only the Cayman S model was available. Like the current model, it was powered by a 3.4-liter boxer six-cylinder, but it produced 295 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. The base Cayman model launched for 2007 and featured a 2.7-liter six-cylinder with 245 hp and 201 lb-ft of torque. Its standard manual transmission featured five gears, while both models' optional automatic transmission was a more traditional five-speed unit with "Tiptronic" manual control.
Prior to the 2009 refresh, the optional navigation system was an older design with a smaller screen and poorly designed controls. Items like ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, iPod interface and satellite radio were also not available. The exterior styling was also somewhat different. When PDK was first introduced, it only came with the awkward shift buttons. The paddles became an option for 2010. The Black Edition and Cayman R arrived for 2012.
Read the most recent 2014 Porsche Cayman review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Porsche Cayman page.