The Cayman, depending on how you view it, is either a cynical way to make more money off the Porsche Boxster or the best sports car in the world. We tend to lean toward the latter. Yes, Porsche charges nearly $4000 more for the Cayman than it does for the Boxster, and yes, that $52,850 doesn’t buy you nearly as much horsepower as you can get in a Chevrolet Corvette or a Nissan 370Z. But the Cayman, which is twice as stiff as the very rigid Boxster, makes up for its spec-sheet shortcomings with unparalleled balance and reflexes. It helps that the roof traps the wail of the boxer engine right behind your ears. The Cayman is not one of those cars that will allow you to pretend you’re a great driver, though–it does exactly what you tell it to, for better or for worse. For those who seek more than the base model’s 265 hp, there’s the 320-hp Cayman S and, new for this year, the 330-hp Cayman S Black Edition. The hottest variant remains the Cayman R, which combines a hopped-up 3.4-liter flat six with a stiffer suspension. Like the Boxster Spyder, it spares no effort in shedding weight. There’s no radio or air-conditioning, the door skins are made of aluminum, the battery is a compact lithium-ion unit, and the door pulls are canvas. The replacement for the five-year-old Cayman is not far off and will, we presume, be faster and more efficient (and possibly will offer a four-cylinder engine). For now, though, this is as good as it gets.

Drive: Rear-wheel

Trim levels: Cayman, S, R, S Black Edition

Body style: Coupe, 2-passenger

Engines: 2.9L flat-6, 265 hp, 221 lb-ft
3.4L flat-6, 320/330 hp, 273 lb-ft

Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 7-speed automatic

Passenger volume: N/A

Cargo space: (front/rear trunk) 5.3/9.2 cu ft

The Cayman S Black Edition, new for 2012, has the same 330-hp, 3.4-liter flat six as the Cayman R but has a more luxurious bent. Available only in monochromatic black livery and limited to 500 cars, it includes features that are normally options, such as bixenon headlights and nineteen-inch wheels.

The Cayman comes standard with front, side, and side curtain air bags. ABS, traction control, and stability control are also standard. Stability control can be disabled but will still intervene if you brake hard enough to activate ABS.

All: 19-20 mpg city/26-29mpg highway

  • Dynamically unimpeachable
  • Good trunk(s) space for a
    sports car
  • Can burn novice drivers
  • Not the best horsepower-to-dollar ratio

Possibly the best Porsche.

  • Audi TT
  • Chevrolet Corvette
  • Nissan 370Z
  • Lotus Evora

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