2009 Porsche Cayman Review

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Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
May 26, 2009

The 2009 Porsche Cayman is a fabulous ride that's worth every penny.

The editors at TheCarConnection.com have driven the Cayman and included some of their own firsthand observations in this Bottom Line. Additionally, TheCarConnection.com has combed the Web to bring you plenty of insight and opinions from a wide range of reviewers about the 2009 Porsche Cayman and Cayman S.

For 2009, Porsche introduces a second-generation Cayman with a host of mechanical changes. The 2009 Porsche Cayman, situated between the 911 and the Boxster in the brand's lineup, is very closely related to the Boxster roadster.

The 2009 Porsche Cayman boasts a 2.9-liter engine that produces 265 horsepower (a boost over the previous generation). The Cayman S gets a 3.4-liter engine with Direct Fuel Injection that kicks out 320 hp. Porsche touts this second-generation Cayman's power-to-weight ratio (9.3 pounds/horsepower in the 2009 Cayman S), which is designed to give a good performance punch without guzzling fuel. Fuel economy is about 26 mpg. Also new for 2009 is a seven-speed transmission based on Porsche's homegrown system that blows competitors out of the water.

According to Porsche, the Cayman S model can accelerate to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds (0.7 second faster than the Cayman) and reach a top speed of 171 mph.

Review continues below

The engines in the Cayman pump out a sound that's an event in itself. The optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system brings Normal and Sport settings for firmness and allows the driver to set it according to driving style. Both 2009 Porsche Cayman models are a blast to drive, with very sharp steering and braking response; all the pieces come together to make an average driver feel good, yet there's enough capability as they gather for a seasoned driver to experience a good deal more out on the track.

Ride comfort is acceptable for a sports car, but it can still be jarring on rough surfaces; the interior in the 2009 Porsche Cayman can also be noisy and tiresome on coarse surfaces. The Cayman's interior feels rather intimate and narrow, with comfortable, supportive seats, but for enthusiastic driving or if you plan to spend much time at the track, you might want to upgrade to the excellent adaptive sport seats, which have power-adjustable side bolsters.

Compared to the Boxster, the 2009 Porsche Cayman has more cargo space due to its hatchback design, and like all of Porsche's sports cars, there's a significant amount of cargo space under the hood in front. For 2009, upgrades to the exterior include redesigned front and rear panels and larger halogen headlights that features integrated direction indicators. The rear end also gets new LED lights for the 2009 version.

Cruise control, an alarm system, air conditioning, leather seats, and a five-speaker sound system are standard on the base 2009 Porsche Cayman. The options list is lengthy on the Cayman, and if you don't watch closely, the price can be driven up near that of the more expensive 911. Highlights, some grouped into packages, include several different steering-wheel designs, more aggressive-looking wheels, a Bose surround sound system, bi-xenon headlamps, automatic climate control, a sport exhaust system, an in-dash navigation system, all sorts of trim options, and special-color upholstery. The Porsche Design Edition comes with coordinated extras like a briefcase, a pocketknife, and sunglasses. The model is only available with a black finish on the outside, plus leather and Alcantara upholstery on the inside, also black.

The 2009 Porsche Cayman comes with dual side and side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, and the performance-tuned Porsche Stability Management stability control system. It has not been crash-tested by either of the established U.S. programs.

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2009 Porsche Cayman

Styling

The 2009 Porsche Cayman is one good-looking vehicle inside and out.

The 2009 "second generation" Porsche Cayman offers superb styling, period. Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that a few new touches are all it takes to keep this vehicle looking good.

Cars.com reviewers observe that the 2009 Porsche Cayman "has pronounced front fenders finished with elliptical headlights and a low hood," and while similar to the Boxster up front, "the Cayman S' appearance veers away from the Boxster's the farther back you go." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com unanimously approve of the styling, which Kelley Blue Book says makes the Cayman "unmistakably a Porsche, displaying numerous classic styling cues not only from the 911 but from a host of the marque's previous street and competition cars." Car and Driver raves about the rear styling of the Cayman, contending Porsche's "going-away view is arguably the sexiest perspective." New touches for 2009 include redesigned front and rear panels and larger halogen headlights. Integrated direction indicators and new LED rear lights add extra sass to the exterior.

The 2009 Porsche Cayman comes in two major trims, base and S. Edmunds reviewers remark that "also available for the 2009 Cayman S is the Porsche Design Edition 1," which "has added design features such as black paint with matte black stripes, 19-inch wheels, a chrome-plated sports tailpipe and a custom interior color scheme." Kelley Blue Book says that "a key visual differentiator between the two models is that the Cayman S wears 18-inch wheels fitted with lower-profile tires than those that wrap the 17-inch rims on a base Cayman," and they find that "the top-line variant also has a subtle black front spoiler lip" and "a large single oval exhaust."

The praise for the styling of the Porsche Cayman is not limited to the exterior. Although ConsumerGuide approves of the "racy design" that "puts the tachometer appropriately dead ahead on the instrument panel" and the fact that the "control layout is logical," they also note "the audio and climate systems are governed by too many undersized, look-alike buttons." Cars.com agrees, saying that "the radio button layout isn't the best, and the sun visors are tiny." Overall, however, Kelley Blue Book deems the cabin "well-finished." Many reviewers also love the interior styling, which Kelley Blue Book says features "easy-to-scan gauges—with black faces on the base Cayman and satin-aluminum dials on the Cayman S," along with "well positioned main controls and supportive bucket seats." Edmunds loves the gauges too, finding them to be "large and easy to read."

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2009 Porsche Cayman

Performance

The 2009 Porsche Cayman pushes the limits even higher, and it’s enjoyable for amateurs and racers alike.

Performance kicks up a notch on the 2009 Porsche Cayman, thanks to a completely new line of engines.

The 2009 Porsche Cayman lineup features two engines, both upgraded. Car and Driver notes that "both engines are closely related to the upgraded engines in the 911, and both are revised, most significantly through the addition of direct fuel-injection to the engines in S models." Cars.com also points out the fuel injection: "When a car's power and efficiency both increase, it usually means one thing: direct injection, and that's the technology that's been added." The base 2009 Cayman now has a 2.9-liter boxer engine that makes 265 horsepower at 7,200 rpm, while the Cayman S has a 3.4-liter engine that makes 320 hp at 7,200 rpm. Car and Driver notes that the 2009 Porsche Cayman tops out at 164 mph; it can get from 0-60 in about 5.5 seconds. The Cayman S can get there in 5 seconds flat (4.9, according to Cars.com) and tops out at 172 mph.

The transmission has also been revamped for the 2009 Porsche Cayman. The new entry is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission known as PDK (or, more impressively, Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe), according to Car and Driver. Motor Trend reports that this transmission shines when compared with standard double-clutch offerings: "what stands out most is its exquisitely subtle software and seven-speed range of ratios." Cars.com explains that the transmission "offers an automatic mode as well as a manual using lever or steering-wheel buttons." Car and Driver says that "shift action is so quick that cars equipped with the dual-clutch transmission will out-accelerate manual models," while Motor Trend likes that the transmissions shifts "take no time at all as the clutches' handoff is so refined there's no appreciable moment of zero torque." The reviewer goes on to note that "its autonomous shifts are as fluid and logical as any slushbox automatic's."

Car and Driver reports that the 2009 Porsche Cayman does well in terms of gas mileage, largely due to its low weight.

When it comes to handling in the Cayman, Porsche's new coupe is nearly without peer. In terms of steering, Autoblog reviewers rave that "the feedback and response is exemplary" and the Porsche Cayman "needs zero input to hold a steady line." Furthermore, they note the 2009 Porsche Cayman has "nearly indiscernible body roll." Kelley Blue Book says, "even among all the legendary Porsche models, it's hard to recall a car that feels so utterly right under virtually all dynamic conditions." When it comes time to stop, ConsumerGuide finds that "braking is strong and confidence inspiring." For drivers who can afford it, Edmunds would "highly recommend the optional PASM suspension package," which in "Normal mode meets the demands of practical daily driving and handles bumps in the road without sacrificing performance, while the Sport mode takes thrill-seeking weekend drives to a whole new level."

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2009 Porsche Cayman

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Porsche Cayman is small inside—too small for many drivers.

The 2009 Porsche Cayman offers excellent materials and build quality—but it's tight. The cozy dimensions are purposeful, but they can still make for a bit of a squeeze.

Edmunds reviewers find that the "seating is comfortable and supportive and the cabin affords a surprising amount of headroom," but they also mention that legroom is just "OK." The sport seats inside the 2009 Porsche Cayman "may look a little meek compared to the highly bolstered ones in some sports cars, but the side bolsters are plenty capable of holding you in place during aggressive driving," according to Cars.com. The 2009 Porsche Cayman seats two inside a cabin that Cars.com considers "definitely on the cozy side," though they feel "it's not the least bit cramped." The one complaint that seems to arise frequently regarding the seats is comfort and support during long drives. Cars.com reviewers register "some soreness after a good five hours of driving," while ConsumerGuide mentions that in the Cayman, Porsche's seats "lack long-distance lumbar firmness." For serious driving enthusiasts, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com suggest opting for the "adaptive sport seats," which ConsumerGuide says include "adjustable side bolsters, power seats," and a "memory system" for both the driver seat and mirrors.

One area where the Cayman shines unexpectedly is cargo space. Kelley Blue Book derides the "dismal cupholders" inside the cabin, but adds that "stowage space under both the front hood and beneath the rear hatch" gives it "a good deal more practicality than may be apparent at first glance." ConsumerGuide rates it above the class average for cargo room, reporting "cargo bays front and rear for more luggage-carrying possibilities than in many two-seaters," though they also mention there is "little in-cabin storage space." Compared to its Boxster relative, the Cayman's "hatchback body style offers more cargo capacity than the Boxster, with 9.1 cubic feet in the rear and a front trunk (or 'frunk') that brings total storage capacity to 14.5 cubic feet," says Edmunds.

In typical Porsche fashion, the 2009 Porsche Cayman features exemplary build and materials quality. ConsumerGuide practically gushes about the "rich-feeling, carefully assembled cabin materials" that "enhance the sophisticated ambiance," but they mark Porsche down for charging extra "for amenities some rivals include as standard, including full leather upholstery." Kelley Blue Book calls the interior of the Cayman "compact but well-finished," featuring "lots of leather and brushed aluminum accent trim." Cars.com agrees, praising the "mostly nice materials throughout and fine build quality" of the 2009 Porsche Cayman.

Unfortunately, the exceptional build quality on the 2009 Porsche Cayman doesn't translate into a quiet ride. Autoblog says that the 2009 Porsche Cayman has "minimal sound insulation to keep the din at a palatable level," but ConsumerGuide notes that "the engine's location behind the seats means more mechanical ruckus than in front-engine designs."

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2009 Porsche Cayman

Safety

The 2009 Porsche Cayman has good safety features, but visibility can be a problem—and there aren't any safety ratings available.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com are without a net when it comes to rating the safety of the 2009 Porsche Cayman. The safety features are present, but there are no crash-test ratings to back up any claims.

Like most Porsches, the 2009 Porsche Cayman has not been crash tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

However, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show high approval levels for the standard safety features on the 2009 Porsche Cayman. Car and Driver is particularly impressed with the operation of the vehicle's stability control, finding that "the intervention threshold of the stability-control system is commendably high." Edmunds reviewers report that in the Cayman, Porsche offers standard "antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control and torso- and head-protecting side-impact airbags." The side impact airbags are of a rather atypical design, as Cars.com notes that "unlike most cars that have side curtain airbags mounted in the roof, the Cayman S' curtain airbags are installed in the doors, like the Boxster roadster, and inflate upward."

One of the few drawbacks to the Cayman is the fact that driver visibility is compromised in some directions. Reviewers at Autoblog notice some visibility issues when driving on the freeway in the 2009 Porsche Cayman, with the "low stance minimizing visibility." Kelley Blue Book lists this fact as "the only real shortcoming" of the Cayman Porsche and says "the prominent roof pillars can block sightlines to the sides or rear." A "rear-obstacle-detection system" is available as an optional feature to help improve driver awareness from within the 2009 Porsche Cayman.

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2009 Porsche Cayman

Features

The 2009 Porsche Cayman offers a somewhat stunted list of standard features. The options list is impressive but pricey.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com know that the 2009 Porsche Cayman is designed for performance first and foremost—but it would be nice to see a bit more in the features department.

Kelley Blue Book contends that both trims of the 2009 Porsche Cayman "are equipped to put the driver's needs first," which explains the lack of too many comfort and luxury features. In reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, complaints about the features generally focus more on what is absent from the standard features list than anything noticeably wrong with the features that are included. For example, Cars.com derides the fact that there's neither "an auxiliary input jack for connecting a portable music player" nor "satellite radio capability." They are also disappointed to find that there aren't "any steering-wheel audio controls" as a standard feature on the Cayman; Porsche offers them as an option, but Cars.com thinks that "they shouldn't be at this price." Edmunds lists the standard features on the base Cayman Porsche as "heated outside mirrors, a CD player, cruise control, a trip computer and full power accessories." To that roster, the Porsche Cayman S adds only an "upgraded sound system" and "variable-intermittent wipers," according to ConsumerGuide.

Compared to the standard features, the options list on the 2009 Porsche Cayman S receives a much more positive reception from reviewers. ConsumerGuide adds that the Preferred Package brings "heated seats" and a "Bose sound system," while stand-alone features include a "navigation system" and "automatic climate control." Edmunds proclaims "the number of options is dizzying, particularly in regards to customizing interior trim and styling selections." Cars.com once again steps in with some criticism, finding that the "optional automatic air conditioning system, for instance, has only one zone, not two." Car and Driver also mentions that, with the Porsche Cayman's options list, "you don't have to check many on a Porsche order sheet to produce big price escalations." Kelley Blue Book says "nifty upgrades start with the Sport Chrono Package that can keep track of your lap times, intensify throttle response and alter shift mapping of the Tiptronic S transmission," while "bi-xenon headlamps and four different kinds of 19-inch alloy wheels" are also available.

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8.2
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Expert Rating
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Styling 10.0
Performance 9.0
Comfort & Quality 6.0
Safety 8.0
Features 8.0
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