- Powerful, sweet-sounding flat-six engine
- Telepathic steering and braking
- Good cargo space
- Strong fuel economy
- Wind and road noise
- Base seats lack side bolstering
- Options can ramp price into 911 territory
The 2012 Porsche Cayman is a potent mix of performance, comfort, and cargo space, and a leader in the sports car segment.
Do you love the Porsche Boxster's performance, styling, and price, but want a hard top? If so, the Cayman is what you're looking for. It's built on the same basic architecture, and in many ways, it's a great stand-in for its bigger, more expensive brother, the 911.
Few changes arrive for the 2012 model year, though a new Cayman R model joins the ranks. Not changing much is good news, however, as the Cayman is already a great car. Sexy lines, classic Porsche details, and the clear look of a dedicated sports car mark the outside, while inside, there's perhaps less Porsche heritage than we'd like, but it's a coherent, well-styled cabin, and highly customizable.
Performance, as you'd expect, is fantastic. Grip is phenomenal, with or without the optional adaptive suspension, and power from the mid-mounted flat six sings. Steering is precise, the brakes deliver pedal feel that's rare outside the brand, and the PDK dual-clutch transmission clicks off shifts with unflappable ease. The 19-inch wheel upgrade adds style without destroying the ride quality, and the Sport Chrono package sharpens the whole car into a truly vivid experience.
Three Cayman models are available: Cayman, Cayman S, and Cayman R. The base Cayman comes with a 265-horsepower 2.9-liter flat six-cylinder, while the Cayman S upgrades that to 320 horsepower and 3.4 liters. The razor-edge Cayman R, which strips out about 120 pounds by reducing features and content, gets a 3.4-liter six rated for 330 horsepower.
Seating is perhaps the one weak point in the base Cayman configuration, with somewhat less bolstering than we'd like given the car's capabilities. The upgraded adaptive sport seats are much better, though the active bolsters during cornering can be distracting. Headroom is great, as the roof is higher inside than it appears to be outside, and the long-haul comfort in general is very high.
Standard Bluetooth connectivity and a universal audio interface make the base-spec features list a bit more thorough, but cruise control is still an option, as is navigation, as are the adaptive sport seats, adaptive headlights, and adaptive suspension. Using some of the higher-tech optional features can be frustrating due to the button-heavy control scheme, but the LCD display is crisp and clear.
The 2012 Porsche Cayman hasn't been rated by the NHTSA or IIHS, but all models include dual airbags for driver and passenger, pre-tensioning seat belts, side-impact protection, standard ABS plus stability and traction control, and optional dynamic cornering lights.