By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 7/9/2012
For decades, critics have regarded the mighty Porsche 911 as the quintessential sports car for its impeccably well-rounded performance and venerable racing pedigree. As the entry-level alternative to the 911, the mid-engine 2012 Porsche Cayman delivers the razor-sharp handling and striking design for which Porsche vehicles are known, but at a reasonable price point. While both the standard Cayman and the more powerful S variant are among the most energetic performance cars on the road today, Porsche has embraced the minimalist spirit and offers perhaps the rawest example of a modern sports car in the all-new Cayman R. And, though the Audi TT, BMW Z4 and the Mercedes-Benz SLK are slightly less expensive, enthusiasts who refuse to settle for anything less than the purest driving experience are left with one choice: The 2012 Porsche Cayman.You'll Like This Car If...
If a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car is consistently occupying the number one spot on your automotive wish list, but you can't afford the lofty sticker prices of the exotics, the Porsche Cayman might be the car of your dreams. With a starting price that undercuts the Lotus Evora by nearly $14,000, the Porsche Cayman is decidedly the most affordable mid-engine coupe on the market.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you favor high levels of luxury and comfort over dynamic performance in your next 2-door sports car, the compliant road manners and lushly-appointed cabins of the Mercedes-Benz SLK and the BMW Z4 will deliver on your expectations.What's New for 2012
For the 2012 model year, the Cayman lineup adds an Ipanema Blue paint finish to the color palette along with the new high-performance Cayman R, which offers a 330-horsepower version of Porsche's renowned 3.4-liter boxer engine, revised suspension componentry and additional weight-saving measures.Driving It Driving Impressions
Even among the range of legendary Porsche models, we find it difficult to recall a car that feels so utterly terrific under virtually all dynamic conditions. A very rigid body structure and renowned capabilities in suspension tuning endow the Cayman with the ability to deal with the most demanding roads – or racetracks – with remarkably impeccable poise and control. The conventional hydraulic-assisted steering transmits a quick, responsive feel, while shifts from the manual gearbox are direct and concise. Each of the three Cayman models possesses a unique set of traits: The base Cayman, at 265 horsepower, delivers a world-class sports car experience without the world-class price tag. The Cayman S adds 55 horsepower and a hint of exclusive design elements to the mix. And, while it packs only an extra 10 horsepower over the Cayman S, the Cayman R's reduced weight, revised suspension and bare-bones interior make it a lethal track-day weapon – and, perhaps surprisingly, a wonderful daily driver.Favorite Features
There's a reason why Formula 1 cars and the majority of modern supercars utilize a mid-engine layout – no other configuration offers the favorable weight distribution and overall balance of a mid-mounted engine.
While a manual transmission may not boast the cutting-edge technology and microsecond shift times of modern-day dual-clutch gearboxes, only the standard 6-speed manual can unlock the Cayman's full emotional potential.