When enthusiasts talk about the ultimate sports car, the Porsche 911 always gets a nod. It’s considered one of the most legendary and recognizable sports cars of all time, but that legend comes at a price outside most consumers’ budgets. But all is not lost for Porsche fanatics because there is another hardtop Porsche available that not only fits more budgets, but performs at nearly the same level as the storied 911 – it’s called the Cayman.
Beneath the unique and beautifully sculpted sheet metal, the 2011 Porsche Cayman (MSRP starting at $51,900) shares the Boxster’s architecture and mid-engine driving characteristics, but encloses the cabin. So, naturally, when you put a hard top on one of the most remarkably agile convertibles in existence, the recipe is sure to please.
And please it does. The athleticism of the Cayman is nothing short of sublime. It’s a sports car that talks to every one of your senses as if you are literally attached to it. This marvel of German engineering drives you as much as you drive it.
What makes the Cayman platform so incredible is its mid-engine layout, which perfectly balances weight for maximum handling agility. To keep mass low to the ground with light weight, the Cayman features an all-aluminum 2.9-liter six-cylinder good for 265 hp and 221 lb/ft of torque. When equipped with the standard six-speed manual transmission, the Cayman will scoot from zero-to-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 165 mph.
In addition to these impressive performance figures, the Cayman is also extremely fuel efficient, ticking off up to 27 mpg on the highway when paired with the manual transmission. To make the Cayman even faster and more efficient, a Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) seven-speed gearbox, which allows for both manual and automatic shifting, is available. If you’ve never tried a Porsche PDK transmission before and you’re considering a Cayman, you must test-drive one. It will completely transform your thinking when considering a manual versus an “automatic” transmission. The shifting is lightning fast with no interruption of power whatsoever. Quite simply, you can’t get a quicker shift than with the PDK system.
The PDK system uses two half-gearboxes and two clutches with an alternating connection between them. This means that when the first half-gearbox is engaged, the next gear is already pre-selected in the second half-gearbox; when the shift happens, the one clutch opens while the other closes simultaneously, executing a shift in milliseconds.
This advanced shifting technology enables the Cayman to go from zero-to-60 in as fast as 5.4 seconds, but what’s even more impressive is the resulting fuel economy: An eye-popping 29 mpg on the highway.
Want to go from zero-to-60 in 5.2 seconds? Opt for the Sport Chrono Package and you’ll receive a host of features that further enhance the performance of a car that already outperforms nearly everything on four wheels. Accented with a trick, swivel-mounted stopwatch (with both analog and digital display) in the center of the dash, the Sport Chrono Package on a PDK-equipped Cayman features Launch Control for maximum traction when starting from a dead stop. Launch Control delivers the absolute fastest, most consistent zero-to-60 and quarter-mile times. The package also includes a “Sport” button that makes throttle response more immediate, adjusts the rev-limiter to a higher setting and tunes engine dynamics for performance driving.
If your performance appetite still isn’t satisfied, the available Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) actively regulates the damping force of each wheel according to driving style and road conditions, in both “Normal” mode for more comfort and “Sport” mode for a firmer ride. The result is a sports car that is simply impossible to unsettle in corners.
The Cayman is one of the most communicative sports cars ever created. The steering wheel, tires, suspension, engine and transmission all talk to you so clearly that you instantly feel at ease no matter what the driving conditions are. If you plan to see some track time with your Cayman, opt for the mechanically locking rear differential, a feature that further enhances traction when accelerating out of tight corners.
A car that handles as well as the Cayman is really a safety feature in itself, as its ability to avoid sudden dangers is unparalleled. Emergency maneuvers that can unsettle other cars, making them lose control, are nothing to the Cayman. But in the instance an accident is unavoidable, the Cayman features full frontal, head and thorax airbags, as well as Porsche Stability Management, a standard feature that constantly monitors driving direction, speed, yaw velocity and lateral acceleration to ensure the vehicle maintains stability under all conditions, even on low-grip road surfaces.
Never before has a sports car blended so much so well, in a package this reasonably priced. Luxury, performance, efficiency, safety, handling, style, reliability, resale value; the list is endless. With the Cayman, Porsche has built a hardtop wonder with many of the same virtues of its bigger 911 brother, but at a price that puts it within reach of a lot more willing consumers. The Porsche Cayman is one of the finest cars on the road today; ultimately, driving is believing, so schedule a test drive today.