Porsche Cayman Review
Essentially a coupe version of the company's beloved Boxster, the Porsche Cayman answers the wishes of those who love the idea of that roadster's mid-engine chassis, tidy dimensions and entry-level pricing matched to the added structural stiffness and security of a fixed-roof body style. Debuting for the 2006 model year — nearly a decade after its platform mate — the Porsche Cayman delivers athletic handling, daily-driver comfort and a very engaging personality.
Two generations of the Porsche Cayman were produced over the course of 10 model years. In keeping with the company's philosophy, the changes through the years were subtle but worthwhile. Upgrades to performance, safety and styling made newer models even more desirable than the already competent ones that came before.
Although the Cayman has since been succeeded by the 718 Cayman, a used Porsche Cayman undeniably remains one of the top sports car choices for serious driving enthusiasts.
Used Porsche Cayman Models
The second-generation Cayman was produced 2014 through 2016. As with its Boxster sibling, it featured crisper exterior styling and a richer interior than the original. Although its performance was only incrementally better than before, that's not a bad thing since it's hard to improve on near-perfection. Electric power-assisted steering debuted on this Cayman, and even though it sacrificed a bit of road feel, it still remained one of the most gratifying connections between the driver's hands and the front tires. Slightly longer and lower than before, this Cayman boasted wider front and rear tracks to further optimize its handling.
Initially, three trim levels were offered: base, S and GTS. The base Cayman came with a 2.7-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine (flat-six) making 275 horsepower, whereas the Cayman S packed a 3.4-liter flat-six rated at 325 hp. The GTS' tweaked 3.4-liter flat-six cranked out 340 hp.
A six-speed manual transmission was standard across the lineup, with Porsche's seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic (known as PDK) offered as an option. Zero-to-60-mph times range from around 5.8 seconds for a base Cayman down to around 4.4 seconds for a GTS with the PDK gearbox. For 2015, the track-oriented Cayman GT4 joined the lineup, boasting a 3.8-liter flat-six with 385 hp that came matched to the six-speed manual gearbox, a lowered suspension, and upgraded brakes and exhaust. Unique styling touches included a fixed rear spoiler and suede interior trim. The GT4's zero-to-60 sprint was estimated at a scant 4.2 seconds.
Notable standard features of a base Cayman include 18-inch wheels, an automatically extending rear spoiler and a 7-inch touchscreen. The Cayman S adds perks such as bigger wheels, bi-xenon headlights, an upgraded stereo and enhanced infotainment functions. Highlights of the GTS include the more powerful engine, some unique styling elements and a sportier interior, while those of the GT4 are covered above. A seemingly endless list of pricey options allowed you to virtually double a Cayman's base price when new.
Reviews of the second-generation Cayman left us scrambling for synonyms for "awesome." Handling basically doesn't get any better, and it is even more impressive given how comfortable the Cayman can be on a daily basis. The textbook driving dynamics combined with Porsche's nearly infallible electronic driving aids will make you feel like a Formula 1 hero every time you take a corner. Also appreciated was the much-improved interior, which provided the proper premium brand ambiance. As far as engine performance, only the pathologically power-hungry would find either 3.4-liter engine lacking, and the 2.7-liter mill is a thrill in its own right.
The previous, first-generation Cayman was produced for the 2006 to 2012 model years (there was no Cayman for 2013). Like its successor, it was based on the Boxster of its era, substituting a fixed roof for the Boxster's soft top. For 2006, only the Cayman S model was available, powered by a 3.4-liter flat-six rated at 295 hp that was paired to either a six-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual control. The base Cayman model launched for 2007, featuring a 2.7-liter six-cylinder with 245 hp and a five-speed manual transmission as standard. A six-speed manual and a five-speed automatic were also offered.
The Cayman lineup was refreshed for 2009. There were exterior styling tweaks such as attractive LED lighting accents, but the real changes were found under the skin. Most notably, the PDK transmission debuted, putting the aging Tiptronic out to pasture. The base Cayman upgraded to a 2.9-liter flat-six with 265 hp, while the Cayman S added direct injection to its 3.4-liter engine for a healthy 320 hp. The optional navigation system was modernized with a larger screen and more intuitive controls, and items such as ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, an iPod interface and satellite radio were offered for the first time.
For 2009 only, all Caymans with the PDK automatic came with awkward shift buttons on the steering wheel that tended to get in the way during enthusiastic driving. The following year, a sport steering wheel with proper shift paddles was made available (and could be retrofitted to 2009 models with the PDK gearbox). For the first generation's final year, two special-edition models with 330 hp were introduced: the Black Edition (with a blacked-out color scheme and added luxuries) and the Cayman R (with a lowered suspension, lightweight seats and limited feature availability).
Our reviews of the first-generation Cayman were almost uniformly positive. The 2009-2012 batch is where it's at for clutch-averse shoppers since the PDK automatic gearbox is so much better than Tiptronic that it's not even worth discussing. If you don't mind doing your own clutch work, however, any year will do. This Cayman was built to a consistently high standard, and exhilarating performance came standard throughout its run.
Read the most recent 2016 Porsche Cayman review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Porsche Cayman page.
For more on past Porsche Cayman models, view our Porsche Cayman history page.