2009 Porsche Cayman Performance
This performance review was written when the 2009 Porsche Cayman was new.
Critics, on balance, agree that the Cayman is a dynamic performer -- offering strong engine options and first-rate sports handling.
- "It almost goes without saying that the Cayman S accelerates, brakes, steers and handles like, well, a Porsche, and measurably better than before." -- Road and Track
- "While sharing a good deal of basic engineering with Porsche's entry-level Boxster line, the Cayman's more rigid, closed-body structure gives this mid-engine rear-wheel-drive two-seater even better handling and a more graceful appearance." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "This thing is simply exquisite -- a thoroughbred racehorse in metal, a partner in road-gobbling that borders on the magical, more a 320-horsepower driving glove than a car." -- Motor Trend
- "The new Porsche is actually everything the 911 has not been for most of its career: confidence-inspiring, super-stable, totally balanced, quite forgiving, a gifted storyteller that is equally good at listening." -- Automobile Magazine
Acceleration and Power
Both the Cayman and Cayman S feature strong engines that leave test drivers impressed. Many, however, note that the stronger S trim is more satisfying to drive.
The base-trim Cayman features a 2.7-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 260 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 201 pound-feet of torque at 4,600 - 6,000 rpm. However, the more powerful Cayman S is equipped with a 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 310 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 251 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 - 6,000 rpm. The base Cayman and Cayman S feature a five-speed and six-speed manual transmission, respectively. However, a Tiptronic S transmission is optional.
According to Porsche, the base Cayman has a top speed of 160 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. The Cayman S trumps the base with a top speed of 171 mph and a 0 to 60 acceleration time of just 5.1 seconds.
The EPA has not rated the '09 Cayman, but reports that the highly-similar 2008 model has a city/highway fuel economy ranging from 18/25 mpg to 20/29 mpg, depending on trim and transmission.
- "They have smooth, ready power for any situation. S models have noticeably more muscle. ... The transmission has smooth shift and clutch action." -- Consumer Guide
- "When you're pressing on in the base Cayman, you need to keep the revs up, and that lends an impression of a car with a limited usable rpm range. But it's mainly because the power lives at the top end. The engine pulls hard once it's on the cam, and twists the needle across the tachometer face between four and seven grand with respectable haste." -- Car and Driver
- "It's why, as you accelerate from idle to flat out, the aural sensations inside the car flash through gurgle, whine, moan, bellow, shriek -- almost faster than the ear and mind can identify each sensation. ... Even non-smokers will be reaching for unfiltered Camels after a full-throttle blast in Cayman." -- USA Today
- "The car [Cayman S] has a standard 6-speed manual gearbox that shifts easily, but the engine had so much torque that I only needed to use third gear most of the time while negotiating the tight, winding mountain roads that had steep drop-offs and occasionally were filled with bicycle riders, tiny economy autos and slow trucks." -- MSN
Handling and Braking
Test driver agree that the Porsche Cayman is a fabulous handler on both road and track. However, its optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system receives mixed reviews for its effect on ride quality.
- "Regardless of model, the Cayman's core strengths are its compact and nimble midengine platform and high body rigidity. This has allowed Porsche's engineers to hone the car's reflexes to a point where one can argue that this is the company's best-handling car. It feels sharper than a Boxster and is more forgiving at the limit of adhesion than the 911." -- Edmunds
- "Automotive theory holds that putting a car's engine between the two axles will contribute to superior handling, and the Cayman S is real-world proof. We're hard-pressed to remember a car that feels so ‘just right,' in so many driving situations, as the Cayman S." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Our test car was equipped with the optional PASM adaptive shock-absorber system, which greatly increases the car's versatility by buttoning up the suspension for high-speed work, then softening appreciably for the highway commute." -- Car and Driver
- "Steering feel is natural and precise. Balance is outstanding, and grip in turns is tenacious. Braking is strong and confidence inspiring. Active Suspension Management is more of a detriment to ride quality than a boon to handling prowess. We wouldn't recommend it." -- Consumer Guide
- "As long as you don't mess up your inputs...the Cayman S will reward you with intuitive responses. The steering simply transfers the blacktop into the palms of your hands in a quick and unambiguous, responsive and progressive, well- damped and yet totally unfiltered manner." -- Automobile Magazine
- "No, this Porsche probably wouldn't be very nice to deal with if you lived somewhere that required driving up and down lots of snow-covered hills and mountains, but in a flat, Midwestern city like Detroit, you could pretty much use it year-round as a daily driver." -- AutoWeek