If you want to take your Porsche to the track as often as you have to take it to work you’re probably buying a Cayman. What do you need to know before you buy a Porsche Cayman? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.
If you think the Cayman is just a Porsche Boxster with a roof you’re not entirely wrong. It’s a Porsche Boxster with a roof and a small trunk. There’s also the availability of a GT4 trim you can’t get on the Boxster (which, instead, gets a Spyder special trim).
Like having sex on the edge of the Grand Canyon, the Porsche Cayman is an exciting exercise in balance. Credit the low weight and mid-mounted flat-six engine with the car’s rewarding performance.
If you’re a track rat there may be no better Porsche you can buy. At least, there’s no better track Porsche you can afford.
Indeed, a Cayman starts at a reasonable price and even the pricier trims are within reach of people than more expensive offerings from other carmakers (and Porsche itself). It’s also a car that’s easy to live with for a sports car, offering decent storage space on both sides of the driver.
What more do you want than that
There’s a turn at Lime Rock Park that’s called the “Uphill,” which, as you’d imagine, is an uphill turn after a right-hander. The trick to sticking it you have to trust your car and trust yourself to put your foot down on the skinny pedal as soon as you come around.
It’s not an easy thing to do as there’s a giant wall there with scrape marks from people who didn’t get that right.
Taking that turn in the nearly perfect Cayman GTS did nothing but instill confidence as each pass the car stuck harder and went faster until you could feel your body lift and move with the g-forces. It was intoxicating.
That’s what it’s like to drive a Cayman. It’s fast. It’s inspiring. It’s also almost as enjoyable off the track where you can casually explore its precise steering and sweet manual transmission.
And what of the Cayman GT4? As we said earlier this year:
The Porsche Cayman GT4 is an absolute masterstroke, a delight to toss headlong over blind crests and into fast bends, and a fitting halo for the Cayman ethos. Finally, we have a Cayman that inhabits that ephemeral desire-space of bedroom wall posters, magazine spreads and fastidiously planned savings accounts. The GT4, forgive me, is made of want.
Again, we have to ask: What more do you people want?
The Cayman was all-new for 2014, following its twin brother’s (the Boxster) launch in 2013. It brought new styling, larger overall dimensions than the outgoing model, more chassis stiffness and more use of weight-saving aluminum. The 6-speed manual, 7-speed PDK automatic and flat-six engines were similar to the outgoing model, but the Germans in Stuttgart made tweaks for better performance and efficiency.
The second year of production, 2015, gave us the GTS trim, which added 15 ponies to the standard Cayman S’s already impressive 325 horsepower 3.4-liter flat-six. Along with the extra push, the GTS got unique wheels, a sport exhaust, unique sport seats, blacked-out headlights and Porsche’s active damping system.
This year, 2016 brings us the manual-only GT4 trim, which shares lots of components with the 911 GT3 and also got the 3.8-liter engine plucked straight out of the 911 Carrera S (but detuned). The GT4 comes with big 15-inch brakes up front with six-piston calipers, a 30 mm lower ride height, revised aerodynamics, unique sport seats, optional carbon ceramic brakes and many more performance goodies.
Wow, these powertrain options look awfully familiar don’t they? That’s because they’re virtually identical to the Boxster’s offerings. Yup, you’ve got three flat-sixes to choose from: a 2.7-liter, a 3.4-liter and a 3.8-liter.
The engines are essentially the same as the Boxsters, so power numbers aren’t much different, either. All three available engines put out 10 horsepower more than their Boxster counterparts, though peak power across all engines is now made at 7400 rpm versus 6700 on the Boxster’s three flat-sixes.
Transmissions are, you guessed it, the same as the Boxster’s offerings: a six-speed row-your-own and a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Those powertrains will get you to 60 in anywhere from 4.2 to 5.4 seconds, or about a tick faster than the Boxster. Though that is quick, where this car really shines is in the corners.
2016 Porsche Cayman Engine Options
Engine Max Horsepower (hp) Max Torque (lb-ft) 2.7-liter flat-6 275 @ 7400 rpm 214 @ 4500 rpm 3.4-liter flat-6 325 @ 7400 rpm
340 @ 7400 rpm (GTS)
272 @ 4500 rpm
280 @ 4750 rpm
3.8-liter flat-6 385 @ 7400 rpm 309 @ 4750 rpm
The fuel economy numbers are also almost identical to the Boxster’s. They’re really nothing special. You’ve got two smaller engine offerings that will get you about 30 MPG on the highway, while the big 3.8 is a bit of a guzzler, managing only 23 MPG in the fast lane. Not great numbers for a 3,000 pound car, but not atypical, either.
The Cayman, like the Boxster, is all about Smiles Per Gallon. It’s all about making the driver feel confident and pleased with a chassis whose limits seem endless. Sure, the cruise through the Blue Ridge Parkway will involve a few gas stops, but it’s worth it in the Cayman.
2016 Porsche Cayman Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Hwy/Combined)
_ 2.7L Flat-6 3.4L Flat-6 3.8L Flat-6 Fuel Economy- Manual 20/30/24 20/28/23
18/23/20 Fuel Economy- Automatic 22/32/26 21/30/24
Trim Level Breakdown
The base Cayman gets the same four piston calipers front and rear and the same front 12.4-inch and rear 11.8-inch vented rotors as the Boxster. Like the Boxster, the S and GTS trims get the same calipers and the same rear discs as the base trim, but fronts increase to 13-inches. Where the Cayman and Boxster differ is in the top-dog trim brakes. The $84,600 Cayman GT4 gets enormous 15-inch pizzas front and rear, grabbed by six and four-piston brake calipers, respectively. The Boxster’s top trim, the Spyder, made do with 13.4-inchers up front and 13-inch rotors out back.
Suspension is a unique Macpherson Strut design, which comes bolted on a subframe together with an electric power assisted steering rack.
The main Cayman trim levels are: Cayman, Cayman S, GTS, and GT4, though there is a special Black Edition available this year as well.
- Cayman: Starts at $52,600. Notable standard features: 2.7-liter flat-six, 6-speed manual transmission, auto start/stop, single exhaust, 18” alloy wheels up front with 235mm summer performance tires, 18” alloy wheels in the rear with 265mm summer performance tires, tire patch kit, electric park brake, automatic rear spoiler, heated power mirrors, power windows, 4-speaker audio system with 7-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth, projector beam headlights, 4.6-inch TFT display for instrument cluster, front and side airbags, automatic climate control, partial leather sports seats. Notable options: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission ($3,200); Sport Suspension: stiffer springs and dampers, unique sway bars, 20mm lower ride height ($1,235); Porsche Active Suspension Management-PASM: electronically controlled dampers with manual settings, 10mm lower ride height ($1,790); Porsche Torque Vectoring: mechanical diff lock and brake-controlled torque control ($1,320+sport suspension or PASM); Carbon Ceramic brakes with 6-piston front calipers and 4-piston rears ($7,400); Sport exhaust system ($2,890); Sport Chrono Package: Dynamic transmission mounts, stopwatch on dash, SPORT PLUS button for throttle response, additional steering wheel display, launch control on PDK models ($1,850); Premium Package Plus: Bi-Xenon headlights, automatic dimming mirrors with rain sensor, heated and vented seats, proximity keyless entry, 18-way adjustable seats with memory setting for seats, wipers, climate control, lights, and more ($3,620).
- Cayman Black Edition: Starts at $59,200. Notable standard features over Cayman: black exterior finish, unique exterior trim, 20” unique wheels, black partial-leather interior, heated seats, two-zone automatic climate control, automatically dimming mirrors with rain sensor, Sound Package Plus, Porsche Communication Management, unique steering wheel. Same options as Cayman minus Premium Package Plus.
- Cayman S: Starts at $64,100. Notable standard features over Cayman: 3.4-liter flat-six, 19-inch wheels, bigger front brakes, rain sensing wipers, 9-speaker audio system, Xenon headlights with automatic leveling. Notable options: Same as Cayman, except Premium Package Plus does not add already-existing Xenon headlights ($2,950).
- Cayman GTS: Starts at $75,200. Notable standard features over Cayman S: 20” alloy wheels, 340 horsepower 3.4-liter flat-six, selectable sport exhaust, unique wheels, Spork Chrono Package, unique sport seats, blacked-out headlights and Porsche’s active damping system. Notable options: 7-speed PDK automatic transmission ($3,960); Porsche Torque Vectoring ($1,320); Carbon Ceramic brakes ($7,400).
- Cayman GT4: Starts at $84,600. Notable standard features over GTS: 3.8-liter 385 horsepower flat-six, unique interior and interior trim and badging, Porsche Torque Vectoring with rear diff lock, big 15-inch brakes up front with six-piston calipers, unique 20” wheels with 245mm tires up front and 295mm summer tires in the rear, a 30 mm lower ride height, revised aerodynamics, unique sport seats. Notable options: Carbon ceramic brakes ($7,400); Sport Chrono Package: Analog and digital stopwatches that display driving statistics that can be viewed on a phone app ($1,850)
While we’d take the Boxster GTS over the Boxster Spyder, there’s just too much want built into the Cayman GT4 to pass it up. There is no wrong Cayman, but the GT4 ticks all the boxes for us with an engine and parts borrowed from its big brother the 911 at a price that starts near that car’s base model. Big engine. Small car. Happy driver.
MSRP: $52,600-$84,600 Top Speed: 183 MPH [3.8L]
Acceleration: 4.2s to 60 [3.8L]
MPG: 22 city / 32 hwy / 26 combined [3.4L, Automatic]
Engines: 2.7-liter flat-6, 3.4-liter flat-6, 3.8-liter flat-6
Max Horsepower/Torque: 385 hp/309 lb-ft
Curb Weight: ~2,888-3,030 IIHS Safety Rating: NA
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Mid Engine, RWD
Photo credit: Porsche