Good for 265 horsepower in base trim, powered by a 2.9-liter flat six-cylinder engine routed through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission, the Cayman can hit 60 mph in as little as 5.4 seconds with the PDK. Tack on the Sport Chrono package, which sharpens the fuel delivery and shift timing, and that drops to 5.2 seconds. The manual transmission is quick, too, at 5.5 seconds to 60 mph. Sport Chrono is only available with the PDK.
The Cayman S boost performance with a 3.4-liter engine rated at 320 horsepower, dashing to 60 in 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 171 mph in PDK models, or 172 mph with the manual. Again, adding the Sport Chrono package drops that to 4.6 seconds.
New for 2012, the Cayman R jumps output another 10 hp to 330 hp, shaving 0-60 mph acceleration to 4.7 seconds in standard form, 4.6 seconds with the PDK, and 4.4 seconds with the PDK and Sport Chrono package. It's also lighter, by as much as 120 pounds.
No matter which model you choose, handling is finely balanced. The optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system gives the driver adjustment from Normal to Sport. Whichever mode, with or without PASM, however, the Cayman's steering is direct and communicative, translating the nimble chassis's movements clearly and meaningfully.