Love everything the Porsche Boxster offers but wished it was a coupe instead of a convertible? Then the 2012 Porsche Cayman is the car for you, offering the same lightweight body, mid-engine dynamics, and powerful drivetrains.
But also like the Boxster, which is being replaced by a brand new generation for the 2013 model year, the Cayman is also due to be replaced very soon so we’d strongly recommend you buy the current car only if you’re getting a good deal or need a new car today.
The current Cayman is still a delight, however, especially in R trim, which is a new entry for the 2012 model year. Not only that but with a starting price of $51,900 it’s also great value too.
There are three different versions offered in total, a standard model, a sportier Cayman S, and the hardcore Cayman R. All our fast and very capable cars, though it’s the Cayman R that gets our pick.
It’s the most powerful of the bunch thanks to its 330-horsepower 3.4-liter flat-six engine, but it’s also the lightest too. Porsche credits a 121-pound weight loss to lightweight materials, and some deleted features such as the air conditioning and audio systems.
The end result is a 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds with the standard six-speed manual transmission, and 4.4 seconds for the PDK dual-clutch shifter when outfitted with the Sport Chrono package. Top speed numbers reach 175 mph for the manual Cayman R, and 174 mph for the dual-clutch car, which all in all means that this is certainly no poor man’s 911.
The mid-level Cayman S isn’t too far behind. It also gets a 3.4-liter engine but only a 320-horsepower rating. The base Cayman, meanwhile, gets a 2.9-liter flat-six good for 265 horsepower.
Grip is phenomenal in any model, with or without the optional adaptive suspension, and the steering is very precise. Considering its quicker acceleration, better fuel economy, and ease of use around town, we’d go with the PDK dual-clutch transmission on any model, though Porsche still makes some of the best manual shifters around.
We also recommend you upgrade to the adaptive sport seats, as the standard units offer somewhat less bolstering than we'd like given the car's capabilities. Surprisingly, cruise control remains an option but at least Bluetooth connectivity is standard. Also coming standard are 18-inch alloy wheels.
For a closer look at the 2012 Porsche Cayman’s styling, performance, quality, and safety, check out the full review on our sister site The Car Connection.