2010 Porsche Cayman Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
December 28, 2009

Fantastic handling, comfortable seating, and better-than-average cargo room make the Porsche Cayman a success in the segment.

TheCarConnection's editors have driven the Cayman to bring you their firsthand impressions in the Bottom Line, and TheCarConnection.com has compiled the best reviews around the Web to bring you a comprehensive range of views on the 2010 Porsche Cayman and Cayman S.

Last year, Porsche introduced a second-generation Cayman with a host of mechanical changes. For 2010 the Porsche Cayman stays largely the same. Situated between the 911 and the Boxster in the brand's lineup, the Cayman shares much of its underpinnings with the Boxster roadster. Exterior changes carried forward from last year include upgrades to the exterior with redesigned front and rear panels that accommodate larger halogen headlights and LED tail lights.

The 2010 Porsche Cayman is powered by a 2.9-liter engine rated at 265 horsepower. Upgrading to the Cayman S boosts engine displacement to 3.4 liters and, thanks to the addition of direct injection, 320 horsepower. That's enough oomph to give the Cayman S a power-to-weight ratio of 9.3 pounds per horsepower. Despite the ready performance figures, the Cayman isn't a gas guzzler, due in part to its relatively low weight. New last year was the addition of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission called the Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, or PDK. A standard six-speed manual transmission is also available. Porsche rates the Cayman S's acceleration at 5.1 seconds to 60 mph with the manual transmission, and 5.9 seconds for the standard Cayman. Top speed for the S model is a heady 171 mph. An optional Sports Chrono package with launch control shaves that 0-60 mph time to 4.9 seconds for the Cayman S. These numbers do little to describe the sheer pleasure of the sound of the Porsche boxer engine, however.

Review continues below

The optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) allows the driver to tune the car's handling to suit the application, ranging from Normal to Sport for city and spirited driving, respectively. Regardless of whether you choose the PASM or the Cayman or Cayman S model, the fundamental chassis of the Cayman line is brilliantly fun to drive, with sharp and easy steering response and confident braking behavior. While these characteristics reward an average driver, a seasoned driver can extract true joy on the track.

Comfort isn't always a first consideration with a sports car, but the Cayman is acceptable for its level of performance. The ride can still be occasionally jarring on rough roads, and road noise can become tiresome on coarser surfaces, but overall the interior is comfortable. Despite somewhat narrow standard seats, they don't offer much side support, so enthusiastic drivers or those who spend much time on the track will want to opt for the adaptive sport seats with their power-adjustable bolsters. Materials and build quality are, as usual from Porsche, top-notch.

Without the need to stow a top and with a bit more room behind the passenger area, thanks to a hatchback design, the 2010 Porsche Cayman offers slightly more cargo practicality than the Boxster. Because of its mid-mounted engine, the Cayman can stow gear both in front and in back. Interior cargo space is lacking, but this is a compact two-seat sports car, after all. If you want six cup holders, consider the Cayenne.

The standard features list isn't exactly extensive, but the available options offer a lot in the way of upgrades. Let those options get out of hand, however, and you'll quickly be looking at a bottom-line price that's well beyond the base of $51,400. Standard equipment includes cruise control, theft deterrence, air conditioning, leather seating surfaces, and a five-speaker sound system. Optional upgrades include a Bose Surround Sound system, a hands-free-calling package with Bluetooth, and the Porsche Communications Management system, which includes a central source for navigation, audio, and communications. Several packages of options are also available that include more aggressively styled alloy wheels, a sport exhaust, dual zone automatic climate control, and a wide range of available trims and upholstery tones.

Safety features are similarly abundant, with dual side and side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, and Porsche Stability Management system, a performance-tuned stability control system. The Cayman S can also be fitted with ceramic composite brakes for superior fade resistance, and all models can opt for an upgrade to dynamic cornering lights to help see what's coming when the road ahead isn't straight. Crash testing hasn't been conducted by either NHTSA or the IIHS, however, so there are no official ratings for the 2010 Porsche Cayman or Cayman S.

10

2010 Porsche Cayman

Styling

The 2010 Porsche Cayman is one good-looking vehicle inside and out.

Situated between the 911 and the Boxster in the brand's lineup, the Cayman shares much of its underpinnings with the Boxster roadster. Exterior changes carried forward from last year include upgrades to the exterior with redesigned front and rear panels that accommodate larger halogen headlights and LED tail lights.

The 2010 Cayman's "pronounced front fenders" remain somewhat similar to those of the Boxster, says Cars.com, but the look veers "away from the Boxster's the farther back you go." Car and Driver praises the Cayman's styling, especially the view from behind, which is "arguably the sexiest perspective." Kelley Blue Book also joins the aesthetically pleased bandwagon, noting that the Cayman, though unique, is still "unmistakably a Porsche."

There are two basic packages for the 2010 Cayman: base, and S. The S looks subtly different from the base model to let those in the know pick it out of the crowd. One of the primary differences, as Kelley Blue Book points out, is the 18-inch standard alloys on the S model, and the 17-inch wheels on the base. Other minor changes between the base and S models include a "subtle black front spoiler lip" and "a large single oval exhaust."

It's not just the outside of the 2010 Cayman that reviewers love. The inside gets almost as much praise from ConsumerGuide for its "racy design" and "logical" control layout. They do criticize Porsche for "too many undersized, look-alike buttons" in the audio and climate control system, however. Cars.com seconds the complaint, arguing that "the radio button layout isn't the best, and the sun visors are tiny." The big picture is not so bad, however, as Kelley Blue Book deems the cabin "well-finished." Edmunds loves the gauges in particular, finding them to be "large and easy to read."

9

2010 Porsche Cayman

Performance

The 2010 Porsche Cayman pushes the limits even higher, and it's enjoyable for amateurs and racers alike.

The 2010 Porsche Cayman is powered by a 2.9-liter engine rated at 265 horsepower. Upgrading to the Cayman S boosts engine displacement to 3.4 liters and, thanks to the addition of direct injection, 320 horsepower. That's enough oomph to give the Cayman S a power-to-weight ratio of 9.3 pounds per horsepower. Despite the ready performance figures, the Cayman isn't a gas guzzler, due in part to its relatively low weight. New last year was the addition of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission called the Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, or PDK. A standard six-speed manual transmission is also available. Porsche rates the Cayman S's acceleration at 5.1 seconds to 60 mph with the manual transmission, and 5.9 seconds for the standard Cayman. Top speed for the S model is a heady 171 mph. An optional Sports Chrono package with launch control shaves that 0-60 mph time to 4.9 seconds for the Cayman S. These numbers do little to describe the sheer pleasure of the sound of the Porsche boxer engine, however. Autoblog calls it "a triumphant symphony of exhaust, intake, and valve-train at full song."

Motor Trend finds the PDK transmission compares favorably to competitive double-clutch offerings, thanks to its "exquisitely subtle software and seven-speed range of ratios." Cars.com likes the way the PDK "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," and Motor Trend appreciates that the transmissions shifts "take no time at all as the clutches' handoff is so refined there's no appreciable moment of zero torque." Car and Driver reports that the 2010 Porsche Cayman does well in terms of gas mileage, largely due to its low weight.

The 2010 Porsche Cayman is nearly without peer in the handling department. The optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) allows the driver to tune the car's handling to suit the application, ranging from Normal to Sport for city and spirited driving, respectively. Despite a steep price, Edmunds' reviewers "highly recommend the optional PASM suspension package."

Regardless of whether you choose the PASM or the Cayman or Cayman S model, the fundamental chassis of the Cayman line is brilliantly fun to drive, with sharp and easy steering response and confident braking behavior. While these characteristics reward an average driver, a seasoned driver can extract true joy on the track.

Autoblog raves about the Cayman's steering, saying that "the feedback and response is exemplary" and it "needs zero input to hold a steady line." They also praise its flat cornering characteristics, noting "nearly indiscernible body roll." Kelley Blue Book says "it's hard to recall a car that feels so utterly right under virtually all dynamic conditions." ConsumerGuide points out that "braking is strong and confidence inspiring."

8

2010 Porsche Cayman

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Porsche Cayman is compact inside, but noise is the real drawback.

Comfort isn't always a first consideration with a sports car, but the Cayman is acceptable for its level of performance. The ride can still be occasionally jarring on rough roads, and road noise can become tiresome on coarser surfaces, but overall the interior is comfortable. Despite somewhat narrow standard seats, they don't offer much side support, so enthusiastic drivers or those who spend much time on the track will want to opt for the adaptive sport seats with their power-adjustable bolsters.

The 2010 Porsche Cayman is a two-seater with a cabin that Cars.com says is "definitely on the cozy side," but "not the least bit cramped." Even though there's enough room, the standard seats "lack long-distance lumbar firmness," according to ConsumerGuide. Edmunds, on the other hand, finds the "seating is comfortable" but calls legroom simply "OK." Cars.com does find the sport seats "plenty capable of holding you in place during aggressive driving," but notes "some soreness" after long stints in the seats. Upgrading to the adaptive sport seats cures these ills, however, as ConsumerGuide notes, thanks to adjustable side bolsters and memory settings.

Without the need to stow a top and with a bit more room behind the passenger area thanks to a hatchback design, the 2010 Porsche Cayman offers slightly more cargo practicality than the Boxster. Due to its mid-mounted engine, the Cayman can stow gear both in front and in back. Interior cargo space is lacking, but this is a compact two-seat sports car, after all. If you want six cup holders, consider the Cayenne.

Kelley Blue Book predictably calls Porsche out for the "dismal cupholders" inside the Cayman, but tempers that by pointing out "stowage space under both the front hood and beneath the rear hatch" are good. The Cayman compares well to the Boxster, however, as its "hatchback body style offers more cargo capacity," says Edmunds. ConsumerGuide likes the "cargo bays front and rear for more luggage-carrying possibilities than in many two-seaters," but again bemoans what it calls "little in-cabin storage space."

Materials and build quality are, as usual from Porsche, top-notch. Kelley Blue Book finds the Cayman's interior materials "well-finished," with "lots of leather and brushed aluminum accent trim." ConsumerGuide raves over the "rich-feeling, carefully assembled cabin materials" but doesn't like how Porsche charges extra "for amenities some rivals include as standard, including full leather upholstery." Cars.com also considers the interior impressive, noting the "mostly nice materials throughout and fine build quality" throughout the cabin of the 2010 Porsche Cayman.

Unfortunately, good materials and high build quality don't necessarily translate into a quiet ride, as is the one weak link with the cabin of the 2010 Porsche Cayman. ConsumerGuide notes that "the engine's location behind the seats means more mechanical ruckus than in front-engine designs," a problem that is only made worse by what Autoblog calls "minimal sound insulation."

9

2010 Porsche Cayman

Safety

The 2010 Porsche Cayman has good safety features, but visibility can be a problem-and no safety ratings are available.

Safety features are similarly abundant, with dual side and side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, and Porsche Stability Management system, a performance-tuned stability control system. The Cayman S can also be fitted with ceramic composite brakes for superior fade resistance, and all models can opt for an upgrade to dynamic cornering lights to help see what's coming when the road ahead isn't straight. Crash testing hasn't been conducted by either the Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), however, so there are no official ratings for the 2010 Porsche Cayman or Cayman S.

Despite the lack of testing, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com reveal much praise for the 2010 Cayman's standard safety features. 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." The side impact airbags are of a rather atypical design, as Cars.com notes that the Cayman's airbags don't deploy from the roof or A-pillar; instead "the Cayman S' curtain airbags are installed in the doors, like the Boxster roadster, and inflate upward."

Outward visibility can be counted as poor and one of the few drawbacks of the Cayman's design. Autoblog cites the "low stance" as the problem, but Kelley Blue Book says "the prominent roof pillars can block sightlines to the sides or rear." Fortunately, a rear-obstacle detection system is available to help improve rearward visibility in the 2010 Porsche Cayman.

9

2010 Porsche Cayman

Features

The 2010 Porsche Cayman offers a relatively short list of standard features, while the more impressive options list can run the price up quickly.

The standard features list isn't exactly extensive, but the available options offer a lot in the way of upgrades. Let those options get out of hand, however, and you'll quickly be looking at a bottom-line price that's well beyond the base of $51,400. Standard equipment includes cruise control, theft deterrence, air conditioning, leather seating surfaces, and a five-speaker sound system.

Kelley Blue Book notes that the 2010 Porsche Cayman's role as a sports car means the features "are equipped to put the driver's needs first." It's the absence of other generally available features that raises more reviewers' hackles. Cars.com, for example, points out the lack of either "an auxiliary input jack for connecting a portable music player" or "satellite radio capability," and they argue that steering-wheel-mounted audio controls shouldn't be optional at the Cayman's entry price.

Optional upgrades include a Bose Surround Sound system, a hands-free calling package with Bluetooth, and the Porsche Communications Management system, which includes a central source for navigation, audio, and communications. Several packages of options are also available that include more aggressively styled alloy wheels, a sport exhaust, dual zone automatic climate control, and a wide range of available trims and upholstery tones.

Edmunds calls the number of available options "dizzying," especially once you start customizing the interior. Cars.com also lobs some criticism at the upgrades, pointing out that that even the optional climate control system "has only one zone, not two." Car and Driver warns that "you don't have to check many on a Porsche order sheet to produce big price escalations," while Kelley Blue Book likes the "nifty upgrades" in the Sport Chrono Package, including equipment "that can keep track of your lap times, intensify throttle response and alter shift mapping of the Tiptronic S transmission."

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