2015 Porsche Cayman Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
May 27, 2015

The 2015 Porsche Cayman remains a focused 911 alternative, at an easier-to-swallow price.

The 2015 Porsche Cayman is, in many ways, the Porsche 911’s little brother, but despite being smaller and less expensive, it is arguably the more focused sports car. With the latest generation of the 911 growing larger and more comfortable—but still inarguably quick—the Cayman is, more than ever, the focused sports coupe.

Like its soft-top sibling, the Boxster, Porsche's Cayman is mid-engined, providing excellent balance and maneuverability. It's also relatively compact, with svelte good looks. Smooth, flowing curves sweep up from the low nose over the fenders and into the teardrop roof profile. Muscular haunches rise at the rear, wrapping around the simple, tidy tail. Inside, the Cayman is all modern Porsche, with clean lines and smooth surfaces broken up only by the center stack and its button-filled controls. 

The 2015 Cayman offers a choice of three powertrains, one for each of three trim levels. The base Cayman uses a 2.7-liter flat six-cylinder rated at 275 horsepower; the Cayman S gets a 3.4-liter flat six good for 325 horsepower; and the GTS, new at the end of last year, gets a 340-hp version of the 3.4-liter. Six-speed manual and seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmissions are available for all models. When equipped with PDK and the Sport Chrono package, the base Cayman accelerates to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds, the Cayman S makes the run in 4.6 seconds, and the Cayman GTS manages it in only 4.5.

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The Cayman handles at least as well as the Boxster it shares its core architecture with; in other words, it's brilliant. The electric power steering is among the best in the industry, and it's shared among the two. In fact, the only real difference between the Boxster and the Cayman, aside from a little extra power in the Cayman's favor, is the roof. The two even weigh about the same with similar equipment. 

Standard and available features are impressive, with a decided bent toward the luxury end of the spectrum, though without some of the more advanced technology and safety items you'll find farther up the Porsche range. Much of the Cayman's feature set is optional, however, meaning the price will rise for each gadget and gizmo you add to the purchase list. The one exception in all of this is the well-equipped Cayman GTS, which is outfitted much like a Cayman S with lots of boxes checked, and at a comparative discount to an S with all of the a la carte options tacked on.

Some of the highlights of the options list include: a choice of three different steering wheels, one with multi-function audio, phone, and navigation controls; a choice of three seating options, including the standard sport seats, power sport seats, and adaptive sport seats with available heating and ventilation; a leather interior package to enhance the look and feel of the dash, doors, and more; dual-zone automatic climate control; built-in quad-band GSM telephone; a "light design" package that adds dimmable, multi-zone LED illumination to the cabin; Porsche Communications Management, or PCM, which offers a seven-inch touchscreen display, CD/DVD/MP3 player, available six-disc CD/DVD changer, iPod/USB connectivity, navigation, and more; and a Burmester audio system with 821 watts and 12 speakers. 

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the 2015 Porsche Cayman, but with a rigid aluminum chassis, potent brakes, advanced traction and stability controls, plus a full complement of airbags including Porsche Side Impact Protection System (POSIP), the Cayman should prove to be a safe sports coupe in the event of an accident.

Despite its ever-more-powerful engines, the Cayman is surprisingly fuel efficient. The EPA rates the base car's fuel economy at 20 mpg in the city, 30 mpg highway with the manual transmission and 22/32 mpg with PDK. The Cayman S rates 20/28 mpg with the manual and 21/30 with the PDK. At the top of the range, the Cayman GTS scores 19/26 with the manual and 22/31 with PDK.

10

2015 Porsche Cayman

Styling

We think the Cayman's luscious lines are even more appealing than those on the iconic 911.

Redesigned just last year, the Cayman carries into 2015 with only a few visual changes. There are a couple of new exterior colors available--Jet Black Metallic and Carrera White Metallic--and the interior is now available in a Black/Garnet Red two-tone leather design. Twenty-inch 911 Turbo wheels are newly available as well.

The newest Cayman is more angular, crisp, and cleanly detailed than its predecessor. The low nose is framed by rising fenders, with a taut passenger bubble sloping gently toward the tail. An integrated spoiler bridges the muscular rear haunches and includes a third brake light.

Inside, the Cayman is almost identical to its roadster sibling and very similar to the larger 911. A clear and driver-focused instrument and dash layout give way to a tight grid of buttons; while it's a bit busy in places, it's straightforward, clearly bearing an engineer's touch as well as a stylist's. While most other brands bury everything imaginable in touch-screen menus, Porsche still provides hard buttons for the major adjustments, and there's something to be said for that.

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2015 Porsche Cayman

Performance

The Cayman's one of our most adored sports cars, with unflappable grip and sonorous acceleration. Get the S.

The 2015 Porsche Cayman is an aficionado's sports car. Whether you're a three-pedal purist or on the next new technology train, the Cayman has something to offer--and it all boils down to sheer driving pleasure.

Three Cayman models are available for 2015: the standard Cayman, the Cayman S, and the Cayman GTS. The primary distinction is one of power, though there are also differences in standard equipment. The base Cayman produces 275 horsepower from its 2.7-liter normally aspirated flat six-cylinder engine; the Cayman S uses a 3.4-liter flat six that makes 325 horsepower; and the Cayman GTS gets a 340-hp version of that same 3.4-liter. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all models, with the seven-speed paddle-shift dual-clutch PDK gearbox an available option.

The GTS model, which was added late in the 2014 model year, is something of a value package; it takes the Boxster S and adds unique aesthetics, more power, and about $14k in what would normally be options, all for about $10k more than a Boxster S. Standard items include the sport exhaust, adaptive suspension, the Sport Chrono Package, and larger wheels.

Even without any performance options, though, the Cayman is simply brilliant. Adding items like those found on the GTS only help to improve the experience or make the car faster on a track, sometimes both. What you plan to do with yours factors heavily into how you spec it, but fortunately Porsche makes it easy to pick and choose the equipment that's right for you. And all Caymans are comfortable around time, making for acceptable daily drivers.

In base form, the manual-equipped Cayman reaches a top speed of 165 mph and hits 60 mph from a stop in 5.4 seconds; the PDK transmission cuts the 0-60 mph time to 5.3 seconds, or 5.1 seconds with the Sport Chrono package in Sport Plus mode. For the Cayman S, the manual gearbox rates a top speed of 175 mph, dashing to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds; the PDK cuts that to 4.6 seconds, or 4.4 seconds with the Sport Chrono package. And in the Cayman GTS, the manual car can hit a top speed of 177 mph and hit 60 in 4.6 seconds, while the PDK version uses the standard launch control to hit 60 in 4.5.

Weighing around 3000 pounds, the Cayman range is light by modern standards. This is reflected in part through the steering (the mid-engined nature puts less weight on the front tires), and in part through the general feeling of nimbleness the Cayman exhibits in any turn. It also helps the relatively modest power output generate impressive acceleration, both from a stop and from a rolling start.

The Cayman has adopted electric power steering in this generation, to the delight of few and fear of many. Fortunately, Porsche learned some lessons from the latest 911's steering system and applied them here. While the system still doesn't return as much feedback as a hydraulic unit, it carries the traditional lightness of Porsche systems over the years and is very accurate with good weighting. With the competition also moving to electric assist, the Cayman still has some of the best steering in its class.

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2015 Porsche Cayman

Comfort & Quality

For a two-seater on the small side, the Cayman has excellent sport seats and lots of storage space.

Like its Boxster sibling, the latest Cayman is much quieter overall than its predecessor, though tire noise still makes its presence known at freeway speeds. Because the Cayman's interior area extends into the hatch and to the rear of the vehicle, gear whine that isn't noticeable in a Boxster is somewhat amplified here; this is a normal effect in hatchbacks, but one to consider if cross-shopping the Cayman and its roadster sibling. Even so, the new Cayman is noticeably quieter and more refined than the one that came before--and not beyond the pale of competitive cars in its performance/price class.

Te overall fit and finish in the Cayman's cabin are truly impressive. It quickly becomes clear why Porsche charges more for its two-seat sports car than do some competitors. And if the standard fare isn't to your taste, Porsche offers a number of trim upgrades to meet customization needs, including wood, carbon fiber, aluminum, and Alcantara. Just be ready to pay a little more.

There's ample leg, head, and shoulder room for taller and larger occupants. There are four available seat styles, and even the base seats are comfortable. The driver's seat and steering wheel are widely adjustable to suit a wide range of body sizes and types as well. There's not much gear-storage space in the cabin--small door pockets and a compact center console bin--but the rear hatch area and the front trunk do offer good space for gear that doesn't need to be accessible during the drive. One odd change for 2015 is that Porsche no longer includes a rear cargo net as standard equipment. Also, the footwell lighting is no longer standard.

A high-resolution, seven-inch touchscreen in the center console houses the Porsche Communication Management (infotainment) system, including audio, navigation, and other duties. A grid of buttons below the screen also offer direct access to various aspects of the Cayman's cabin systems. On some models, there's also a circular screen in the rightmost gauge pod, which can display navigation directions, audio information, trip computers, and other helpful items.

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2015 Porsche Cayman

Safety

The Cayman lacks any crash-test scores, but it's replete with standard and available safety technology.

Because it falls into a category of expensive low-volume vehicles, there is no nationally recognized crash-test data for the Cayman. Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash tested the 2015 Porsche Cayman or its predecessors, but that doesn't mean it's an unsafe vehicle.

The Cayman's aluminum-intensive structure is among the most advanced on the road, engineered for rigidity and strength while remaining light. Add to that a standard complement of front, head, thorax, and knee airbags, plus pre-tensioning seat belts, side-guard door impact beams, ABS, traction/stability control, hugely capable brakes, and other safety-aiding electronics, and the Cayman is likely as safe as any modern compact sports car. Its excellent handling can also be considered an accident-avoidance boon.

For 2015, Porsche is offering a rearview camera in the Cayman for the very first time. The system is bundled with Porsche's ParkAssist front and rear parking sensors.

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2015 Porsche Cayman

Features

It's easy to double the base price of a Cayman, if you have an uncontrollable hand on the options list.

Every 2015 Porsche Cayman comes with a tremendous amount of standard equipment, but there's a huge array of a la carte options available, as well. One caveat for the Cayman buyer, as with nearly any Porsche: beware the price creep that comes with ticking lots of cool feature boxes.

All Cayman models include a wealth of convenience and luxury items: rain-sensing wipers; electric-adjust heated exterior mirrors; cruise control; two-way power adjustable sport seats; a 4.6-inch TFT instrument cluster display;  a seven-inch color touch-screen infotainment system; Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity; and more.

Optional extras include an upgraded audio system; a six-disc CD/DVD changer; ventilated seats; heated seats; a heated steering wheel; adaptive cruise control; a rearview camera bundled with parking sensors 14-way and 18-way adjustable memory sport seats; a fire extinguisher; dual-zone automatic climate control; an 821-watt Burmester sound system; and a selectable sport exhaust.

In addition to the numerous comfort and convenience features, the Cayman offers the Sport Chrono package. The Sport Chrono itself is a dash-mounted stopwatch that allows the car to store and report lap times and other performance metrics for later analysis. The package also includes upgrades for other systems, depending which are installed. In addition to the standard Normal and Sport chassis settings, Sport Chrono adds Sport Plus; this and the other buttons control things like throttle sensitivity, suspension tuning, and transmission behavior on PDK models. Sport Chrono-equipped PDK cars also get a launch control feature, which uses the transmission and a host of sensors to return optimal acceleration form a stop.

Other performance options include an adjustable suspension, adaptive engine mounts, and a torque-vectoring rear end.

New for 2015, Porsche is offering a rearview camera on the Cayman, as well as 20-inch 911 Turbo design wheels, and automatic highbeams bundled with the Bi-Xenon lights.

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2015 Porsche Cayman

Fuel Economy

Sports cars don't have to have good gas mileage, but the Porsche Cayman makes a fair attempt at it.

Each Cayman engine/transmission option returns slightly different EPA mileage figures, but all are reasonable considering the car's performance aim.

The base Cayman is rated by the EPA at 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg highway with the manual transmission. The PDK gearbox raises those figures to 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway.

For the Cayman S, manual numbers hit 20 mpg city, 28 highway, while the PDK returns 21 city and 20 highway.

Opt for the most powerful Cayman, the GTS, and the manual brings 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway, while PDK boosts economy to 22 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway.

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December 15, 2015
2015 Porsche Cayman 2-Door Coupe GTS

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A fabulous daily driver with the all the sportiness and intimacy of a traditional sports car. Great for the weekend jaunts onto those meandering country roads with plenty of storage for the occasional trip... + More »
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