By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.0
Although the consummate Porsche will always be the 911, the entry-level 2016 Cayman coupe serves up a driving experience that is both exhilarating and a bit primal. A spin in Porsche’s 2016 Cayman mid-engine coupe is like stepping back to a time when the driver, not a phalanx of electronic nannies, was responsible for piloting the car. Sure, you can find better straight-line performance from a Nissan 370Z or Chevrolet Corvette, but neither feels as connected to the driver when carving up curves. With a choice of four equally desirable flat-6 boxer engines and a long list of advanced features, including a Burmester audio system and adaptive cruise control, the Cayman asks you to sacrifice nothing in the pursuit of having everything.
There are plenty of front-engine sports cars that know how to thrill, but they’ll all fall by the wayside once you’ve experienced the mid-engine 2016 Porsche Cayman coupe. For the price, the Cayman’s combination of power, handling and style is practically unbeatable.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2016, Porsche unleashes the Cayman’s full potential with the introduction of the GT4. Borrowing its engine from the Carrera S and brakes and suspension bits from the GT3, this manual-transmission-only, limited-run Cayman won’t be sitting on the dealer lot for long.
There is a light simplicity to Porsche’s 2016 Cayman coupe that is hard to describe. Although it has everything it needs to satisfy the most hard-core enthusiasts, the Cayman is...
... the kind of car even a novice driver can feel confident piloting at high speed. The Cayman’s electrically assisted power steering is predictable, communicative and responsive, and the car’s brakes obediently slow the action without ever feeling vague or overly sensitive. Driver input is taken without complaint as the stiff chassis and perfectly tuned suspension work in harmony to keep the Cayman planted. In the Cayman GTS and GT4, however, we found the track-inspired suspension a bit tiring in day-to-day driving, but perfect for a few hot laps on an enclosed course. Leaving the Active Suspension Management setting in the Normal mode smoothed out the most annoying reactions without detracting from the Cayman’s overall driving manners.
Manual lovers may not like to hear it, but to achieve the Cayman’s best acceleration and performance figures, its dual-clutch PDK automatic transmission needs to be onboard. Use the fully automatic mode when stuck in traffic, but regain shift control when exiting that 5-lane freeway for a winding back road.
PORSCHE TORQUE VECTORING (PTV)
Porsche’s Cayman Coupe for 2016 uses its PTV system to eliminate understeer by applying brake pressure to the inside rear wheel. Measuring steering angle, vehicle speed and throttle position helps the system determine just how much brake pressure to apply and when.
The mid-engine 2016 Porsche Cayman coupe’s cabin is sleek and upscale. In true Porsche tradition, the sophisticated cockpit-style layout features a driver-focused dashboard and myriad controls, which are easily accessible. Gone is the claustrophobic feel of past Porsche cabin designs, replaced instead with ample headroom and a surprising amount of legroom for a segment not known for it. Ergonomics is outstanding, though outward visibility is quite limited due to the Cayman’s high beltline and bulky C-pillar. The standard seats are supremely comfortable and supportive, and while the available sport seats further up the performance ante, we deem them nonessential.
Sharing most design cues with its Boxster kin, the Cayman demonstrates an assertive look, underscored by edgier lines, sloping headlights and prominent side scallops. The body is 44-percent aluminum, which makes the Porsche Cayman for 2016 one of the lightest cars in its class. A long wheelbase and wide track afford a sizable boost in high-speed stability. In terms of storage, the luggage area within the rear hatch coupled with a front trunk combine to deliver a commendable 15 cubic feet of cargo space, comparable to most midsize sedans.
The 2016 Cayman by Porsche is available in base, high-performance Cayman S and supercar-like GTS and GT4 trim levels. Standard features include 18-inch wheels, water-repellant front windows, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a 4-speaker audio system with a 7-inch LCD touch screen. Cayman S models include a wider track for improved lateral grip, 19-inch wheels, and low/high-beam xenon headlights that emit up to three times more light than conventional halogen systems. When it comes to safety, all Cayman models include eight airbags, a wide range of electronic stability aids, and complimentary roadside assistance for the duration of the limited warranty.
The 2016 Cayman offers a lengthy list of upgrades along with numerous bespoke options that will wrap just about any interior surface in leather, carbon fiber, Alcantara (synthetic suede), aluminum, or matching exterior paint. Unlike some of its more raucous rivals, the Cayman’s unobtrusive exhaust note makes the premium 12-speaker Burmester sound system a worthy add-on. Lastly, if you believe it’s necessary to outfit your next sports cars with pricey traction-enhancing gizmos, know that most drivers will run out of nerve long before the Cayman runs out of grip.
Porsche offers a choice of four mid-mounted flat-6 “boxer” engines for the 2016 Cayman. The base 2.7-liter engine is good for 275 horsepower, while the more powerful 3.4-liter mill of the Cayman S churns out a very respectable 325 horsepower. The GTS delivers 340 horsepower and the GT4 a whopping 385 horsepower. Three of the four Cayman variants direct power to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission or an available 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, with the GT4 offering only a 6-speed manual.
2.7-liter flat-6 (Cayman)
275 horsepower @ 7,400 rpm
213 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500-6,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/30 mpg (manual), 22/32 mpg (PDK automatic)
3.4-liter flat-6 (Cayman S)
325 horsepower @ 7,400 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500-5,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg (manual), 21/30 mpg (PDK automatic)
3.4-liter flat-6 (Cayman GTS)
340 horsepower @ 7,400 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500-5,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (manual), 22/31 mpg (PDK automatic)
3.8-liter flat-6 (Cayman GT4)
385 horsepower @ 7,400 rpm
309 lb-ft of torque @ 4,750-6,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/23 mpg
In base form, the 2016 Porsche Cayman mid-engine coupe opens at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $53,600. The Cayman S starts just over $65,000, while the GTS starts just over $76,000 and the range-topping GT4 at $85,600. Adding the PDK automatic transmission costs an additional $3,200. An absent-minded approach to checking options boxes can easily skyrocket the sticker price into the $100,000 range. For comparison, the Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 commands a $5,000 premium over a base Cayman, while the Audi TTS and Chevrolet Corvette start closer to $53,000 and $56,000, respectively. To see what others in your area are paying for the 2016 Cayman, take a look at KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price at the bottom of this page. Down the road, the Porsche Cayman is expected to retain some of the highest residual values in the segment, topping the Audi TTS, Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 and Chevrolet Corvette.