2012 Porsche Cayman R

It's funny how personal seat comfort can be. I immediately felt right at home in these fixed-back bucket seats and wished I could have them in every Porsche I drove. Perhaps my endurance-racing experience prepared me for these seats, but I had no problem driving the Cayman 170 miles to Grattan Raceway and then turning as many laps as time and weather allowed. I never experienced any discomfort, but I do sit pretty close to the wheel and usually keep my seatback fairly upright.

Driving Grattan for the first time in the rain was a thrill. Porsche earns high marks for dialing in traction and stability control systems that keep the car on the track without killing all forward progress and fun once slip is detected. I wouldn't say doing a track day in the rain is impossible without the various electronic aides, but when they are so unobtrusive, it would be foolish to turn them off. It's amazing how allowing drivers a little slip actually increases the safety factor since it means they're more likely to keep the safety systems on.

Maybe I'm crazy for not wanting a 911 over a Cayman, but the mid-engine Porsches just feel smaller, lighter, and more nimble. Even a base Boxster provides more grip and power than anyone can use on a public road, and the only reason a Cayman R turns slower laps than a 911 is because Porsche essentially neuters it from the factory to keep the 911 on top. Getting a stripped-down Cayman R on a track just feels right in a getting-back-to-basics kind of way. You don't need 500+ hp and forced induction to have fun.

If I were looking to regularly track a Cayman, I'd want some upgraded brakes. During our day at Grattan, the Cayman's brakes turned mushy much faster than the Lotus Evora's, but they still provided reasonable stopping power. Porsche's carbon-ceramic brakes are a bit pricey at $8150, so I'd probably look into aftermarket pads and rotors that are more track-oriented and use the savings for more track time. With a car this easy to drive on the track, it's a shame to drive it exclusively on the street.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor

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

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