The Porsche Cayman is one of the best-looking sports cars on the market, and it's just as much fun to drive as it is to behold.
New for 2012 are two more powerful variants in the Cayman lineup: the bare-bones, race-inspired Cayman R and the luxe, feature-packed Cayman S Black Edition. Both use the same 3.4-liter flat-6 found in the Cayman S, tuned to make ten extra ponies for a total of 330 horsepower. The Cayman S Black Edition comes with an all-black color scheme, including black-painted wheels and exhaust pipes. It boasts an estimated 0-60 mph time of about 4.8 seconds and is limited to 500 units.
The 2012 Cayman and Cayman S carry over unchanged. The Cayman was launched as a 2006 model and revised with new engines, transmissions and suspensions for 2009.
The Cayman comes with a 265-horsepower 2.9-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine. Cayman S features a 3.4-liter flat-6 with 320 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual, our choice, is standard on both versions, while the superb PDK 7-speed double-clutch gearbox is optional.
Like all Porsche models, the interior and exterior options on the Cayman are configurable in thousands of combinations, so exclusivity with any one individual car is well within reach. Those choices add up, however, making individuality expensive.
The Cayman coupe is related to the Boxster convertible, and some will argue that the Cayman is merely a fixed-roof version of the Boxster. We disagree. The Cayman has its own feel and character. It can serve as a luxury grand-touring car for two with heated and ventilated leather seats, Bose sound system, and navigation system. But it's also a sports car with superb driving dynamics, wonderful sounds, and excellent driver involvement. Two cargo areas and fair gas mileage make for a decent daily driver, while adjustable suspension, advanced drivetrain, and racing-style brakes are well-suited for the track. And we think the Cayman is better looking than the Boxster, though we do love the Boxster and think it has a much better name.
The Cayman doesn't have a lot in the way of direct competition, though it can be compared with the Lotus Evora, the sedan-like BMW 1M, the aging Audi TT, and the much bigger Chevrolet Corvette.
The 2012 Porsche Cayman comes in four variants: Cayman, Cayman S, Cayman S Black Edition, and Cayman R. Cayman comes with a 265-hp 2.9-liter flat-6. Cayman S comes with a 320-hp 3.4-liter engine. Cayman S Black Edition and Cayman R feature a 330-hp 3.4-liter engine.
Cayman ($51,900) comes standard with leather upholstery, manual air-conditioning, Bluetooth and a four-speaker audio system with CD player and USB port, manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, manually adjustable seats with power recline, cruise control, 17-inch wheels, summer high-performance tires.
Options include the PDK 7-speed automated manual double-clutch gearbox ($3,420); Porsche Active Suspension Management ($2,090), which lowers suspension by 10 mm and includes two selectable settings; the Sport Chrono package ($960) with a lap timer, adjustable driver settings and launch control on models equipped with PDK; and a limited-slip rear differential ($950). The Cayman can also be equipped with navigation and the Porsche Communication Managerment (PCM) touchscreen interface ($3,455). Dozens of wheel, seat, interior and infotainment options are also available.
Cayman S ($62,100) upgrades the audio and comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, special exterior and interior trim, 18-inch alloy wheels, and red-painted brake calipers. Cayman S options are similar to the standard Cayman, although one notable addition includes ceramic composite brakes ($8,150) with drilled, vented discs and yellow-painted calipers.
Cayman R ($66,300) is a stripped-down Cayman S that forgoes air-conditioning, the sound system and some trim pieces. It comes standard with 19-inch wheels, Porsche Active Suspension Management (a lowered sport-tuned suspension), limited-slip rear differential, lighter sport seats, the sport steering wheel and interior trim that matches the exterior paint. Many options found on other Cayman models are available, including climate control and the regular sport seats, but more cushy add-ons like ventilated seats are not available. The four-speaker sound system can be added back in at no additional cost.
Cayman S Black Edition ($67,500) uses the same 330-hp engine found on the Cayman R and includes the same standard features as the Cayman S. It is only available in a black, monochromatic color scheme, which uses black exterior paint, black 19-inch wheels and black-painted twin exhaust tips. Also standard are bi-xenon headlamps, a sport steering wheel (the same one used on the 911 Turbo), the PCM touchscreen interface and an upgraded Bose audio system with satellite radio.
Safety features on all models include front airbags and head-and-thorax side airbags, electronic stability control (PSM), antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (ABD), tire pressure monitors, and traction control (ASR).