2012 Porsche Cayman R

In a recent column, Ezra Dyer posits that the things that make a car great on a track -- and cause it to earn hosannas from car-magazine writers -- are the very things that make it terrible for the drudgery of commuting. There's some truth there, and the Porsche Cayman R is exhibit A. While a regular Cayman, or Cayman S, is a perfectly fine sports car with which to enliven the daily grind, this ultra-hard-core track special is particularly tough to live with outside of its closed-course natural habitat.

The biggest issue is the seats. These rigid, deep-pocketed buckets appear to be straight out of a racing car, so much so that I was expecting them to have a five-point harness. Not only are they incredibly confining and extremely hard to extricate yourself from, they adjust fore-and-aft only (manually), so don't expect to custom-tailor your position behind the wheel.

If you're OK with the driving position, the next major issue might be the lack of air-conditioning. I'd even say that the optional PDK gearbox is another feature best enjoyed on a track, because like some other dual-clutch transmissions, it can be fairly jerky in the stop-and-go.

Amazingly, however, even with nineteen-inch wheels and ultra-wide 35-series tires, the ride is not too punishing nor is the steering subject to tramlining.

Nonetheless, the R here stands for Racing, and Porsche is not kidding. For street driving, I'd take a Cayman S and happily pocket the $4000 savings -- or better yet, add another $4000 to the $75,900 (as equipped) for this Cayman R and get a 911.

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

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

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