Review: Porsche Cayman (2005 – 2013)
Superbly balanced and agile with amazing grip. Relatively refined and comfortable enough for everyday use. Available with double-clutch PDK gearbox.
More expensive than an equivalent Boxster. Standard equipment levels are far from generous.
Porsche Cayman (2005 – 2013): At A Glance
- New prices start from £49,488
- Contract hire deals from £589.69 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 42–44
- On average it achieves 90% of the official MPG figure
While Porsche may be well known for its iconic 911 Carrera models, there is a smaller hard top coupe in the range - the superb Cayman. Based on the Boxster it's quite simply the best handling car on the market with amazing poise, great grip and surging performance. Some may say the 911 is still the 'true' Porsche, but even that doesn't drive as well as the Cayman.
It's helped by the fact it is mid-engined, which means perfect balance in all conditions, while the steering is incredibly accurate. This makes the Cayman a hugely enjoyable car to drive with a real feelgood factor from behind the wheel. There are two models - the standard Cayman and the more powerful Cayman S - both powered by characterful straight-six 'boxer' engines which have a delightful engine note.
In 2009 the model was revised with some subtle styling tweaks. The big changes were reserved for the engines with two new more powerful units delivering faster acceleration times and improved fuel economy. This not only makes the Cayman range even better but helps differentiate it from the Boxster. There's also a new dual-clutch PDK gearbox which offers amazingly rapid gearchanges, so much so that it's quicker from 0-62mph than the standard manual.
But just because this is a sports coupe, it doesn't mean it's not useable everyday. The ride is firm as you'd expect, but copes pretty well on most roads plus it's surprisingly practical inside with a large luggage area in the front and a comfortable cabin. The interior is superbly constructed with a purposeful but sophisticated feel.
Where the Cayman comes into its own is on the open road where you can enjoy the great performance available and appreciate how well it handles. Few cars feels as special as the Cayman and although standard equipment levels aren't exactly generous, it's still well priced compared to the competition. There's a huge range of options available too which means you can really go to town and customise your Cayman.
What does a Porsche Cayman (2005 – 2013) cost?
Porsche Cayman (2005 – 2013): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 260 litres
This may be a two-seater sports car, but it's surprisingly practical and can easily be used as an everyday car. As the engine is in the middle, there's the usual (rather shallow) boot at the back along with a more useful deep and square luggage area under the bonnet. Put together they offer an impressive 410 litres of carrying capacity - as much as many family hatchbacks.
There's decent storage in the cabin too including a good-sized glovebox and useful stowage under the door armrests. Even taller driver's will find the cabin spacious with plenty of head and legroom, while the seats are supportive yet cosseting. There are several seat options available, including the great bucket sports seats. They may look a little severe (and there's no adjustment in the seat back) but they're perfectly angled for comfort and on long journeys are actually better than the standard seats. Of course, it's when driving enthusiastically that they come into their own with great side support.
As you'd expect in a Porsche, quality is superb with high-grade materials used throughout and impeccable fit and finish. It manages to blend the purposeful feel of a sports car with comfort and easy-to-use controls, including a user-friendly stereo and clear dials. Take a look at the options list and you'll see that there's huge scope for personalising the interior with various leather finishes, carbon trims and aluminium detailing - at a cost of course. It's worth the extra as the standard black cabin is a little sombre.
And on the subject of optional and standard equipment, the Cayman isn't the most generous sports car you can buy. It does come with air conditioning, a CD stereo, front fog lights, stability control, part-electric seats and electric windows but the options list is lengthy and many of the extras are pricey. You also have to pay extra for things such as floor mats or even to get the Porsche badges in the wheel centres colour, rather than the standard black. But what this does ensure is that you're unlikely to ever get two Caymans the same.
One option that is well worth the extra - and will make your Cayman easier to sell should you decide to - is the PCM (Porsche Communication Management) system - a central control unit for all radio, communication and navigation functions. It's easier to use than the old system and features a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen monitor with a great sat nav function. The menus are both logical and clear and a further option is the universal audio interface that means you can connect an external audio source such as an iPod or USB stick.
Child seats that fit a Porsche Cayman (2005 – 2013)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Porsche Cayman (2005 – 2013) like to drive?
The standard Cayman was initially available with a 245bhp 2.7-litre engine that gives it a 0-62mph time of 6.1 seconds - quick enough but fairly ordinary by Porsche standards. It's still a good engine though and shares the same characteristic deep sound that all Porsche engines produce. This is down to the fact it's a boxer engine, which basically means it sits horizontally rather than vertically.
As there are no turbochargers or superchargers, the power delivery is very consistent across the rev range and the slick five-speed manual gearbox makes exploiting it enjoyable. However, if you want performance, the Cayman S is the model to go for. It's powered by a 3.4-litre engine with 295bhp and the extra power is certainly noticeable, especially at higher revs or when pulling away from slow corners. 0-62mph takes 5.4 seconds and it has more torque along with a six-speed gearbox as standard.
At the beginning of 2009 both engines were upgraded with new technology that makes them not only more powerful but also improves efficiency. The Cayman is now powered by a 2.9-litre with 265bhp and this sees the 0-62mph time drop down to 5.8 seconds. This may not look much on paper, but the Cayman now feels much more like a performance Porsche with more meaningful performance on tap. But despite these increases in power, economy is actually better while CO2 emissions drop.
The real star of the engine line-up is the 3.4-litre engine in the Cayman S which delivers 320bhp. It's a stunning engine and feels more responsive and flexible than before, no doubt thanks to the new Direct Fuel Injection system. The extra power brings the 0-62mph time down to just 5.2 seconds - close to 911 territory. Yet despite this stunning performance, the Cayman S has an average fuel consumption figure of 29.7mpg - an impressive result considering this is an engine with more than 300bhp.
Porsche also launched a new semi-automatic gearbox in the Cayman, to replace the Tiptronic S that was previously available. Called PDK (or Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe in full!), it uses two-clutches to provide amazingly rapid yet smooth changes. It's a very clever system as one clutch pre-selects a gear before you even change, so there's hardly any gap between shifts.
The big advantage is that it's even faster than with a conventional manual gearbox or torque converter automatic transmission. It's so good in fact, that it provides (fractionally) quicker acceleration than the manual and better economy too. The PDK is available with the optional Sports Chrono Package Plus featuring Launch Control. This allows you to achieve maximum acceleration from a standing start and also a Race Track Gearshift Strategy for the fastest conceivable gear changes. As a result, the 0-62mph time is cut by 0.2 seconds.
On the move it's instantly evident that the Cayman is a great sports car. It feels special from the moment you turn the key and hear that wonderful straight-six engine rumble into life with a deep burble from the exhaust. There's even an optional sports exhaust available which enhances that sonorous sound further. The driving position is perfect with a low slung seat plus all the controls, like the clutch and accelerator, are nicely weighted.
The Cayman really comes into its own on smooth twisting roads, helped by a taut bodyshell, superb levels of grip and wonderfully responsive steering. You only need small inputs in corners while the perfect balance, helped by the the fact the Cayman is mid-engined, means it's a car that really flatters. It's incredibly rewarding too, yet not intimidating to drive, unlike some high performance cars of this ilk - even those who have never driven a Porsche will find the Cayman simple to get to grips with.
This makes the Cayman a great all rounder. It's easy to drive and docile at low speeds, so driving in town or in busy traffic isn't tiring, while it happily cruises on the motorway with minimal noise. The ride is firm - as you'd expect on a performance car. The standard Cayman with its smaller 17-inch alloys is slightly better, but still struggles over rough road surfaces, however, on smoother tarmac it's a delight.
|Cayman||30–30 mpg||5.8–6.1 s||221–222 g/km|
|Cayman PDK||31 mpg||5.7 s||214 g/km|
|Cayman R||30 mpg||5.0 s||221 g/km|
|Cayman R PDK||30 mpg||4.9 s||218 g/km|
|Cayman S||27–31 mpg||5.0–5.4 s||206–254 g/km|
|Cayman S PDK||34 mpg||4.9 s||188 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Porsche Cayman (2005 – 2013)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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