2012 Porsche Cayman R

Our office seems split on this car - either it's God's gift to track junkies, or it's far too hardcore to use as a daily driver. Allow me to add a touch of grey to this spectrum of thought, since I'm somewhere between those two camps.

Yes, it's firm, but it's also well dampened. I encountered some back roads that prompted me to grimace and brace for the worst, but the R didn't crash over imperfect surfaces.

Yes, those sports seats are comfortable and stick to occupants like glue, but entry and egress - particularly for a chunky individual like myself - proves quite complicated.

Yes, I could theoretically live without standard air conditioning, but when trapped in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the midst of a humid summer downpour, it's hard not to break a sweat and wish for A/C.

Would I take one over the more comfortable, slightly less powerful Cayman S? Probably not, but I'm happy to see Porsche flesh out the Cayman portfolio. Some purists insist the Cayman (and its Boxster sibling) is merely a stepping stone into the company, allowing buyers the chance to mature into the venerable 911, but the Cayman's styling, agility, tactility, and benevolence (particularly when pushed a little too hard) make it an equally enticing proposition. Kudos to those in Stuttgart for offering a slightly different flavor of an old favorite instead of insisting buyers order a completely different dish.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

I drove the Porsche Cayman R directly on the heels of a week in the Nissan Leaf. It's hard to imagine two cars that are more polar opposites. Whereas the Leaf wants to be driven gently, to prolong the battery's range, the Cayman R just begs for you to drive aggressively. From the extra-firm, racing-style seats to the lack of air-conditioning to the canvas-strip door pulls, you can see the weight-savings measures that signal that this is really a car for the track. I wouldn't want to drive the Cayman R every day, as the seats can be moved only fore and aft, with no backrest adjustment, and I found the ride to be too firm on the rough pavement of my daily commute. Still, it was a welcome change from the Leaf, and a car I'd be happy to get in again. Just not on an everyday basis.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

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For anybody but a track junkie, the base Cayman provides 95% of the fun for 75% of the price.

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