2012 Porsche Cayman Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Porsche Cayman was new.


Performance: 9.4

Reviewers are almost unanimous in saying that the 2012 Porsche Cayman meshes speed, power and luxury seamlessly. Unlike most cars, where the engine is mounted in the front, the Cayman’s engine is mounted between the front and rear axles, which provides better handling by making the car more balanced.

  • "As much as we like the Porsche 911, the Cayman is better to drive in many ways, thanks in large part to its lighter weight and optimal mid-engine layout." -- Car and Driver
  • "If the 911 Carrera is Porsche's flagship, then the Cayman is the fleet's gunboat. With its crisp lines and superb mid-engine balance, the Cayman could easily outperform the Carrera if Zuffenhausen gave the okay. Not gonna happen, my friend." -- Road and Track
  • "The risk Porsche engineers have taken all along with the Cayman is that, sooner or later, they'd dial its performance up so high its natural advantage in mid-engine balance and trimmer-scale would finally propel it into outshining the iconic 911 Carrera. Personally, I think that moment has arrived." -- Motor Trend
  • "They have smooth, ready power for any situation. S models have noticeably more muscle." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

With quick acceleration and plenty of power, reviewers say shoppers who buy the 2012 Porsche Cayman will not be disappointed.

The base Cayman has a 2.9-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 265 horsepower at 7,200 rpm and 221 pound-feet of torque. The more powerful Cayman S features a 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 320 horsepower at 7,200 rpm and 273 pound-feet of torque. With a maximum speed of 175 mph, the Cayman R is the most powerful and fastest model. It has a 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 330 hp at 7,400 rpm and 273 pound feet torque. A limited-slip rear differential is standard on the Cayman R..

All models have a standard six-speed manual transmission. The Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK dual-clutch automatic) transmission is optional on all models, and reviewers love it. According to the EPA, the base Cayman gets 19/27 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 20/29 city/highway with the automatic.

  • "They have smooth, ready power for any situation. S models have noticeably more muscle.  ... The transmission has smooth shift and clutch action." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The dual-clutch transmission in our test car never failed to find the right gear at the right time and react instantaneously." -- Car and Driver
  • "The PDK transmission is a revelation, providing faultless automated-manual shifting performance for those who would rather not row their own gears. We're not fans of the standard wheel-mounted shift buttons, though, and we prefer the optional shift paddles - they're well worth the extra money."--Edmunds
  • "While the 265-horsepower base Cayman lacks the sheer acceleration of the pricier 320-horsepower "S" variant, it does offer a somewhat more compliant ride. And with both versions possessing prodigious stopping power and offering optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) that lets you fine tune the ride characteristics with the touch of a button, either Cayman may prove to be all the Porsche that you'll really want or need." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Due in large part to its mid-mounted engine, reviewers agree that the 2012 Porsche Cayman is one of the best handling sports cars you can buy. Not only do they say it’s well balanced, but they also like its responsive steering and strong brakes.

  • "Thanks to its petite size, modest weight and midengine layout, the 2012 Porsche Cayman handles superbly. It feels glued to the road and light on its feet at the same time. Body roll is virtually nonexistent, and the variable-ratio steering is among the best. The new Cayman R is even more capable thanks to its lowered ride height and retuned suspension. However, the R does ride stiffly, and Porsche doesn't offer the optional adaptive suspension for it."--Edmunds
  • "[T]he Cayman's steering is more precise and communicative than any other real street car. The roads on our test loop were bumpy and wet today, and the Cayman's steering told me exactly how much grip I had at all times. And given that this is a perfectly damped, mid-engine car, that's always a lot. Even without the optional PASM adaptive damping, the balance of body control, grip, and compliance simply has to be experience to be believed." -- Car and Driver
  • "The Cayman's super-stiff structure provides a rock-solid suspension platform that allowed chassis engineers to work true handling magic, complementing the excellent Porsche Stability Management system (PSM) with quick, responsive steering and a clutch-and-shifter combo that's near-perfect on both models." -- Kelley Blue Book

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