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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
what stands out most is its exquisitely subtle software and seven-speed range of ratios
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
stirring performance capabilities and the soul of road-going Porsches of days past
Spectacular performance is the whole reason the Cayman exists--it's not the slinky spyder the Boxster is, but it's nearly the performance equal of the bigger, base 911.
The Cayman punches out 265 horsepower from its 2.9-liter flat-six engine, and the power ripples with that classic Porsche engine note--sonorous, omnipresent, mechanically refined. Thrust is always available whether you're using the six-speed manual transmission or the "PDK," or Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. With the PDK, the Cayman will accelerate to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, reaching a top speed of 165 mph, according to Porsche. The optional Sport Chrono package twiddles with fuel delivery and shift timing to drop 0-60 mph times to 5.2 seconds; in the other direction, opting for the manual gearbox puts 0-60 mph times at 5.5 seconds.
But that's not all. Porsche will boost the engine's displacement to 3.4 liters and add direct injection, which results in 320 horsepower. Porsche rates the Cayman S's acceleration at 4.9 seconds to 60 mph with the manual transmission, and 4.8 seconds for the PDK Cayman S. Top speed for the S model is a heady 171 mph with the PDK--but one mile per hour higher with the manual. Adding the Sport Chrono package on the Cayman S delivers 60 mph in 4.6 seconds.
These numbers can't hope to convey the sheer pleasure of pushing a Cayman through its gears, and to its limits. The fundamental chassis is brilliant, and the Cayman has the sharp, easy, predictable responses of the most confident roadgoing sportscars--not to mention deeply capable braking. You can try to improve on its reflexes with an optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), which lets you tailor driving feel from Normal mode to Sport for city and spirited driving, respectively. It does little to fluster the Cayman's direct, communicative feel, though it can make the ride feel a little more brittle.
The 2011 Porsche Cayman pits its ninja reflexes and race-ready acceleration against any and all comers--even against the 911.