Confessions of a Cayman Convert

I confess. I have yet to meet a Porsche I don't like (and yes, that includes the Cayenne). That's why when Porsche Cars North America told us our next press car would be their mid engine Cayman I was uncharacteristically hesitant. You see, up until now, wait for it... I wasn't a Cayman fan. It's true, not only was I not in love with the looks, I was tired of listening to all the complaining (from current Cayman owners of course) that Porsche was/is holding the power back on the Cayman so as not to cannibalize sales of the fleet's flagship Porsche 911 (which it turns out is probably true, but more on that later). My opinion took a drastic 180 degree turn on a drive through the Orange groves of the central Florida on the way to Sebring.

Every time I saw a Cayman on the street, my immediate reaction was, Why?

Why did Porsche slap a hardtop on the Boxster and rename it? Why does the sum of all it's potentially aesthetic parts still not combine to form an object of obsession (in my mind) similar to the silhouette of a sexy 911?

The answer it seems, is that I just never gave it a chance. Stubborn "purist" that I am, I had formed my opinion after a short introduction when the Cayman was first released and no one or nothing was going to change it. I would see a Cayman and simply dismiss it. In simple terms, a Porsche snob at his worst.

What changed things for me? Spending time with a 2009 Cayman S up close and personal. When Porsche first dropped the Cayman in our driveway, the first thing we did was go out and look, long and hard. Whether you're a fan of a certain Porsche or not, it's still a joy to go see a toy that was delivered to your doorstep for the sole purpose of driving and evaluating it. The only thing that could make it better is if it were a Porsche. Oh, wait. It is!! :-)

The Cayman S From the front



and from the side, is all Porsche



It seems the only thing I'm having trouble with is a certain rear view.

Looking at the rear of a 2009 Porsche Cayman S

Those extra high fenders have taken some time to get used to



However, at a slightly different angle the view is quite nice

If anyone is wondering why Porsche would have a 2009 model year in their press fleet, it's due to the simple fact that there were basically no changes between the 2009 and 2010 model years (outside of a color option or two). Rather than incur the expense of replacing the '09s with 2010s, they simply opted to keep the '09s in the fleet. A somewhat boring, but understandable choice.

Which Porsche Cayman is right for you?

Before our Cayman press car even arrived, we had to make a choice. Just like ordering a car from a dealer we had to decide between a base Cayman filled to the gills with options and accessories or a "stripper" - a Cayman S stripped down to the bare essentials with just a few choice options. Hmmmm...

Turns out it wasn't really a tough choice. Let's see, a base Cayman with a 2.9 liter 265 horse power engine loaded to the gills with performance reducing, weight carrying options or, a somewhat stripped down Cayman S with 55 + more ponies (that's 320 for those of you who are mathematically challenged) coming from a 3.4 liter power plant. We'll take the Cayman S please.

Our Porsche Cayman S was equipped as follows:

  • Cayman S Base Brice: $60,200
  • Meteor Grey Metallic: $710
  • PDK: $3,420
  • Self Dim Mirrors and Rain Sensors: $690
  • Heated Front Seats: $500
  • Automatic Climate Control: $550
  • Bluetooth Interface for Mobile: $695
  • Bose High End Sound Package: $990
  • Floor Mats in Interior Color: $90
  • Universal Audio Interface: $95

With a destination charge of $950 our "stripper" Cayman S stickered out just shy of $70k at $68,890 (check out the Porsche Cayman S Sticker Price if interested). While not inexpensive, it is still $7k less than a base Carrera and $15k less than one equipped similarly to our Cayman. That's a lot of additional money for only 25 more HP (the base Carrera has a 3.6 making 345 HP) and 3/10 of a second reduction in the 0 to 60 time (the Cayman S with PDK gets to 60 MPH in 4.8 seconds while a Base 911 Carrera will do so in 4.5). Both will take 2/10ths of a second off the time if you add in the optional SportsChrono (a feature we highly recommend and sorely missed in our tester).

It's these seriously similar performance numbers that keep the Cayman conspiracy theorists in business. The cold hard truth is that if you put two similarly skilled drivers on a track going head to head (one in a Cayman the other in a base 911) with equal HP, the mid engined Cayman would probably win lap after lap. The balance is just that good.

To Option or Not to Option

When we expressed our surprise at the lack of luxuries included in our Cayman S test car we were quickly informed that this particular configuration was actually the most common order spec by both the dealers and consumers. Turns out it's the right set-up. With few electronic bells and whistles, and none of the performance robbing weight that comes along with excessive accessories, the Cayman S is a joy to drive (not to mention much more affordable). Porsche's mid-engine coupe loves loves being thrown into corners. Want to lose the back end in a corner? You have to try real, real hard (and remember to turn off PSM). The optimal weight balance that comes from the mid-engine design makes a better driver out of even the worst wanna be racers.

Storage space in a Porsche Cayman


Like the Porsche Boxster, we were pleasantly surprised at everything you could fit into the front and rear storage compartments of the Cayman. Similar to the Boxster the Cayman provides trunk space both front and rear. The front space easily holds two good size carry on pieces of luggage (plus a few extras) while the rear space held two large duffel bags, two pairs of shoes and a box of T-shirts.

To top it off, the Cayman offers storage areas the Boxster doesn't. In the space where the Boxster top would retract is a storage shelf that with cargo net that makes easy work of a brief case or purse.

In addition, on each side of the rear luggage compartment are deep, covered hatches that we used to store all of our electronic gear we wanted to remain out of site when leaving the car locked for the night. In other words, no shortage of space and even more than one would expect.

Who or What does the Porsche Cayman Compete With

The most often heard comparison is Nissan vs. Porsche. While not quite as heated as the Porsche 911 Turbo vs. Nissan GT-R battle, the Cayman vs. 370Z is the one you see the most. In my mind, it's not even a competition. Yes, yes, I know. The Nissan is almost half the price with comparable performance numbers. To me, it just doesn't matter. If you're shopping for a Porsche, you're most likely not looking at a Nissan. If you're looking at a Nissan 370Z, chances are - in most cases - you're not looking at a Porsche. Nissan simply doesn't have the intangibles that make a Porsche a Porsche: history; provenance; racing heritage; the list goes on.

Who is the Porsche Cayman Built For?

Anyone that wants an enjoyable, purpose built, focused and nimble sports car that is a joy to drive and easy to live with. Equipped withe the seven speed PDK, the Cayman works well just about anywhere. It's fast and nimble enough to enjoy on the back roads or occasional track event, yet refined to the point where you won't feel like you've gone 10 rounds after spending a day commuting.

Related Porsche Posts
Used Porsche Cayman for Sale
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Porsche Buyers Guide. 5 Reasons to walk away

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14 Comments

  1. Jim says

    Mine is a 2007, 2.7, 5 speed. What a great automobile. It has been interesting getting the sideways glance from some 911 owners, like I don’t see you! I flashed my lights or waved for the first few weeks of ownership most 911 or Boxster owners responded in kind. Some of you may remember how 356 owners looked down on the 911 for some of the same reasons.

  2. says

    What a great recap of your conversion into a Cayman fan! A very comprehensive look loaded with invaluable information for those looking to make the purchase. I saw the Cayman S when we ran into at Sebring, and remember you beginning to have a change of heart at that time (or perhaps it had already happened).

    My uncle has a Cayman S that he then sent to Ruf to add the compressor and modify the body. I’ve ridden in it several times in Europe and it truly is a joy on the corners. The balance is impressive.

  3. says

    I see you finally came around to what I’ve been telling you for years, the Cayman is the better car. :) I know, Vic knows it, Chris knows it, and now you’ve finally come around. I won’t plug the world’s best Cayman website because you already know where it is.

  4. Mark Quinzi says

    I enjoyed reading your report.

    I’ve been a mid engine fan for many years. Driving a MR2 in school, and then a Ferrari 308, and later moving up to the NSX… and now for the first time I’m shopping for a Porsche.

    I have more than a few friends who never looked at Porsche before because we just weren’t fans of the 911 ( I know its hard to believe but we are out there). Cayman has opened-up Porsche showrooms to small, but fresh new pool of fans.

    I’ve even caught myself reading-up-on and learning about 911’s ….. so never say never. But I have to give credit to the Cayman as a great stepping stone to a new world for some of us.

  5. 993C4S says

    @Mark,

    Would love to hear your impressions of the NSX. We’ve been thinking more and more about putting one in our garage. Need to do some more research first though.

    As for the Cayman and others who don’t like the 911, we hear you. We’re still coming to grips with this embarrassing attraction to the Cayman :-)

  6. DaveN007 says

    I first stumbled upon a Cayman in 2006 in a Costco parking lot. First thought? Wow. Too bad it is a Porsche, because it is a beautiful car and it is just going to be considered “the Porsche for guys who can’t afford a 911”. I had no idea that I would have one in my driveway (when not on a track) 6 months later, and that it would prompt the sale of my SL500 “dream car”. I was basically handed the keys of a Speed Yellow 2.7 to drive for free for a year. Now I am in an 08 3.4 and I love it.

    Caymans bite hard and don’t let go.

    The 911 of my future will be a 1987 Carrera Cabriolet.

  7. Mark Quinzi says

    Hi 993C4S

    The NSX was a great car… people forget that Ayrton Senna did the fine tuning on the NSX for Honda. And for those who don’t remember…Senna was the Michael Schumacher of the 1980’s in F1. NSXprime.com is the place to go if you want to do some research.

    I loved everything about the car, and would have bought the next NSX (called the HSC) but Honda killed the project along with all their other sports cars to go “GREEN”. Porsche’s idea to build a mid engine car was great timing for the entire group of S2000 and NSX fans who were left homeless

    Here’s a funny story.
    We saw the first Cayman (with no badge) with a fantastic black paint job and some beautiful custom rims, displayed next to a black 911 at the St Pete Grand Prix….I looked at both and assumed the new Cayman was a more expensive special edition of the 911 because of the sleek more aggressive rear hatch. I remember telling my wife. The 911 is probably a $80,000 base car, and that other thing is probably one of those “special limited editions” probably starts at $120k or more. LOL. Funny how “Joe Public” can get it all wrong.

  8. says

    The Cayman is a Porsche in the same way the 356 and the 550 and 904 and 912 and 914 and 917 and 924 and 928 and 944 and 968 and Boxster are all Porsches. All are based on platforms and designs (even the Boxster, the Cayman’s blood brother) whose concepts in some way were blessed by Dr Ferry Porsche. Arguably the Panamera, the 4 door that Ferry always wanted to build, fits in. The Cayenne, likely not, but its engine options have clearly the Porsche stamp on them. The 911 has the advantage of pedigree, history and cache, which sometimes blind people from the mid-engine history of the marque (i.e., the first 356) as well as the tremendous competence of the front-engine models (once they got the 924 sorted out). When I start up my 2.7 Cayman with my left-handed key and rev through the gears, especially over 3000 rpm, I hear the 911 and every six-cyiinder Porsche that came before it.

  9. Dominic says

    The only reason the “heavy Pig” 911 is faster 0-60 is because of Porsche’s denial of a proper gear box. A long 1st and 2nd gear in the Cayman are the only reason Porsche can keep the 911 ahead of the Cayman in their brochures. On the road or track the Cayman can already over take any 911 on the outside.

    As for the looks, well beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the well balanced silouette of Cayman against the blob the 911 has become. From the inside the view over the front bonnette is not even close. The Cayman light domes curve in and down while the 911s just go straight out.

  10. Tybee987CS says

    I’ve enjoyed my 07 CS for over 3 years now. Mine, to, is Meteor Gray with essentially the same options on the one covered here (some weren’t available in 07 e.g., Bluetooth, UAI). Not only is it fun on the track, but it is a great traveler, too. Will I turn down the Carrera GTS when I win it in the raffle? No, don’t think so, but I won’t buy one to replace my Cayman. While there are without question, a lot of Porsche snobs, there’re a lot of folk, men and women, who tell me they think my car is beautiful. And with it’s Fabspeed exhaust, the sound is just great and I get told that by others, too. For Porsche,it fills out the range, but it is destined, I fear, to become another Porsche “bastard” just like the 914, 944, et al.

  11. 993C4S says

    Will be tough for you to win the raffle when we already have the winning ticket. :-) As for your other comments, we think the 914 is undervalued and the 944 is overlooked. With regard to the Cayman, we’d take one any day (assuming we could keep our 993 too).

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