Two major variants of the Cayman are available: the standard Cayman and the Cayman S. The primary distinction is one of power, though the Cayman S also gets slightly larger and wider wheels as standard equipment. The base Cayman rates 275 horsepower from its 2.7-liter normally aspirated flat six-cylinder engine; the Cayman S uses a 3.4-liter flat six that generations 325 horsepower. Either model can be had with either a six-speed manual transmission or the seven-speed paddle-shift dual-clutch PDK gearbox.
With no performance-oriented options, the Cayman and S both show their fundamentally sound and inspired engineering: they're a blast to drive. Add in the sport exhaust and the bark matches the bite; add the Sport Chrono package, and Porsche Active Suspension Management (as well as a few other Porsche acronyms) help turn the knob to 11 when pushed, but retains the Cayman's rather relaxed around-town nature.
In other words, whichever Cayman flavor you choose, and however you equip it, you'll have a fine sports car. You can just choose how sharp an edge you'd like. 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.
Electric power steering used to be a byword for numb, vague steering, but the industry's advances in this field have been rapid, perhaps nowhere so much as at Porsche. Like the Boxster, the Cayman's steering is informative and intuitive, direct without being noisy. It's not the best we've ever felt, nor is it better than the best of Porsche's previous hydraulic-assist steering, but it's certainly not a reason to avoid the Cayman. If anything, the Cayman still has some of the best steering in its performance class, electric or otherwise.
Weighing in between 2,888 lbs and 2,976 lbs, the Cayman range are 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 while already moving, in gear.