2012 Porsche Cayman

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$26,723–$73,631 Inventory Prices
(5.0) 3 reviews
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Key Specs
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Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Porsche Cayman. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Intuitive responses
  • Handling balance
  • 3.4-liter six-cylinder's performance
  • Accommodating cabin
  • Gas mileage

The Bad

  • Manual shifter feel
  • Price tag warrants more luxurious interior
  • Overhead stoplights can be hard to see

Notable Features of the 2012 Porsche Cayman

  • New lightweight Cayman R
  • Final model year for this generation
  • Mid-engine design
  • Choice of flat-six-cylinder engines
  • Front and rear cargo areas

2012 Porsche Cayman Road Test

Mike Hanley

Car enthusiasts often deride mainstream, popular cars as "appliances," saying they don't offer any driving fun. In most cases they're right, but that doesn't mean those cars aren't what most people want.

The 2012 Porsche Cayman R, on the other hand, is not an appliance; driving it is like piloting an oversized go-kart, and it offers one of the best blends of power and handling for the money.

The 2012 Porsche Cayman base starts at $52,850 (including a $950 destination charge), but the lightweight Cayman R version we tested, which is new for 2012, is considerably more expensive, at $67,250. In between there's the Porsche Cayman S, which uses a slightly less powerful version of the Cayman R's flat-six engine. Click here to see the Cayman S and Cayman R trim levels compared side-by-side, or see how the Cayman R's specs stack up against comparable sports cars — the Audi TT RS and the Lotus Evora — here.

Styling
The first-generation 
Porsche Cayman enters its seventh model year for 2012. Porsche Cayman due for a redesign in the near future, but the current car can still turn heads, especially the Porsche Cayman S and Cayman R trims. It has its own look distinct from Porsche's iconic 911, and in some ways it's a more graceful one. The mid-engine design facilitates a low hood bordered by elliptical bi-xenon headlight assemblies, and the roofline trails gently toward the rear of the coupe.

Perhaps more likely to elicit strong opinions is the available Peridot ...

Car enthusiasts often deride mainstream, popular cars as "appliances," saying they don't offer any driving fun. In most cases they're right, but that doesn't mean those cars aren't what most people want.

The 2012 Porsche Cayman R, on the other hand, is not an appliance; driving it is like piloting an oversized go-kart, and it offers one of the best blends of power and handling for the money.

The 2012 Porsche Cayman base starts at $52,850 (including a $950 destination charge), but the lightweight Cayman R version we tested, which is new for 2012, is considerably more expensive, at $67,250. In between there's the Porsche Cayman S, which uses a slightly less powerful version of the Cayman R's flat-six engine. Click here to see the Cayman S and Cayman R trim levels compared side-by-side, or see how the Cayman R's specs stack up against comparable sports cars — the Audi TT RS and the Lotus Evora — here.

Styling
The first-generation 
Porsche Cayman enters its seventh model year for 2012. Porsche Cayman due for a redesign in the near future, but the current car can still turn heads, especially the Porsche Cayman S and Cayman R trims. It has its own look distinct from Porsche's iconic 911, and in some ways it's a more graceful one. The mid-engine design facilitates a low hood bordered by elliptical bi-xenon headlight assemblies, and the roofline trails gently toward the rear of the coupe.

Perhaps more likely to elicit strong opinions is the available Peridot Metallic paint, which our test car had. It's an intense shade of green, but the black Porsche graphics on the doors and the optional black-painted 19-inch wheels made for an eye-pleasing contrast.

Extension of the Driver
It's a description that's overused whenever sports cars are discussed, but the Cayman R can legitimately be called an extension of the driver. Its responses are that intuitive, its transitions that natural and balanced. It's easy to feel connected to the Cayman R in a way most sports cars can't match.

Different elements of the driving experience contribute to this sensation, but it starts with the steering. The setup is amazingly natural, free of excess power assistance that can get in the way of steering feedback. Porsche has done an excellent job making it seem like there aren't many components separating the steering wheel from the front wheels, and this is key to how it feels in your hands — whether cornering or going in a straight line.

The Porsche Cayman's front-to-rear weight distribution is another important element. With the car's mid-engine layout, Porsche has achieved a 45/55 weight distribution, front/rear. The car isn't hauling around a lot of weight, either, especially in R form: It weighs 2,855 pounds, 121 less than the Cayman S, which means you get an exception power-to-weight ratio. Beyond that, the center of gravity feels especially low. The rear-wheel-drive Porsche Cayman R's ride height is lower than the base Cayman or the Cayman S; it uses an exclusive suspension that drops the car about an inch.

All this combined lets you tackle corners with an enthusiasm that would have other cars begging you to slow down. The Cayman R, by comparison, begs you to go faster. You really have to recalibrate your sense of maximum permissible cornering speeds — its capabilities are that high.

Flat-Six Fun
Perhaps the only downside of the Cayman R's 330-horsepower, 3.4-liter flat-6-cylinder engine is that you can't see it unless the car is on a lift. The engine is covered by a parcel shelf behind the two sport bucket seats, and the only visual cue that there's an engine underneath is a small access panel.

There are, however, plenty of auditory reminders that there's a horizontally opposed six-cylinder under the shelf, especially when you stand on the gas pedal; the engine lets out a mechanical symphony when the tachometer needle swings to 4,000 rpm or so. The engine pulls strongly even at highway speeds, quickly adding 10 mph to your cruising speed. Porsche cites a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.7 seconds with the six-speed manual transmission and 4.6 seconds with the optional dual-clutch automatic known as PDK.

Instead of the PDK, our test car had the manual, and while the shifter has short throws that make quick shifts easy, shift feel lags behind the high expectations set by the rest of the car. Whereas everything else related to the driving experience exudes precision and exactness, the shifter feels a little vague and muddy as you row it through the gears.

The Sport Chrono Package includes an analog stopwatch on the dashboard and a Sport button that makes throttle response much more immediate. It also raises the rev-limiter and activates the optional sport exhaust. In a car like the Cayman R, Sport mode would be a good starting point for the drivetrain settings, as opposed to an optional one; the normal mode's more relaxed tuning doesn't go as well with the car, but it improves efficiency and keeps PDK-equipped cars running at a quieter engine speed.

For a performance car, the Cayman R's EPA-estimated gas mileage is quite good. It's rated at 19/27 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission. With the automatic, fuel economy estimates improve to 20/29 mpg. Premium gas is required.

The Inside
Despite its compact exterior, the 
Porsche Cayman R's cabin can accommodate taller drivers. I'm 6-foot-1, and I was comfortable in the driver's seat. The bucket leather seats are firmly cushioned and have considerable side bolsters that hold you in place in corners.

We've seen Porsche improve its interior quality in recently redesigned models like the Cayenne SUV and the 911, but the current-generation Cayman predates those models by a number of years. As such, the car's interior is decent — with good fit-and-finish and materials quality — but it's not especially luxurious considering its near-$53,000 starting price.

Besides contributing to the Cayman R's handling prowess, the car's mid-engine layout results in two trunks. The one in front is deep and measures 5.3 cubic feet, and the parcel shelf under the rear hatch is 9.2 cubic feet. If you use soft-sided bags you can fit a surprising amount of luggage in the car.

Safety
Like many other sports cars, the Cayman hasn't been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Standard safety equipment includes antilock brakes and an electronic stability system, both of which are required on new vehicles as of the 2012 model year. The Cayman also has seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags that deploy upward from the doors.

For a full list of safety features, check out the Features & Specs page.

Cayman in the Market
The 
Porsche Cayman is something of an overlooked gem in the Porsche lineup. It's consistently outsold by its drop-top sibling, the Boxster, as well as the pricier 911. Sales aside, it remains my favorite Porsche sports car for daily driving. The car's secret is that its modern technology doesn't get in the way of driving engagement, but rather enhances it. That's one of the reasons the Porsche Cayman landed on our list of fun-to-drive cars.

The next-generation Cayman, which we expect to be less than a year away, will probably take many cues from the recently redesigned 2013 Boxster. Even though the Porsche Cayman has been around for a while in its current form, the car is as appealing as ever and a perfect country-road companion. Rejoice, car enthusiasts, rejoice.

Send Mike an email  

 


2012 Cayman Video

In a world that’s moving more toward cars as appliances, the 2012 Porsche Cayman R is a dyed-in-the-wool sports-enthusiast machine, according to Cars.com Editor Mike Hanley.

Latest 2012 Cayman Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(5.0)
Interior Design
(5.0)
Comfort
(5.0)
Reliability
(5.0)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Most exciting and beautiful car to own

by lovemycar, Fl on August 5, 2017

Never though I could feel this way. I found a perfect traveling companion, always eager to please, gives unerringly whenever asked and does so unfailingly. Easy on the eye, passers by stare at her ... Read full review

(5.0)

Awesome ride

by PLO from Huntsville, AL on July 8, 2015

This is by far the best handling car I've ever had. It's really quick and looks amazing. The sports option is worth the extra money. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Porsche Cayman currently has 1 recall

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2012 Porsche Cayman has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / 50,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Porsche

Program Benefits

24-hour road side assistance, battery jump start, flat tire service, emergency fuel delivery, lockout service, replacement keys, extrication/winch service and trip interruption.

  • Limited Warranty

    2 Years / Unlimited Miles Warranty coverage after the expiration of the new vehicle limited warranty or from the date of sale if the new vehicle limited warranty has expired.

    2 Years / Unlimited Miles Warranty coverage after the expiration of the new vehicle limited warranty or from the date of sale if the new vehicle limited warranty has expired.
  • Eligibility

    Under 8 years / 100,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 111 point mechanical and visual inspection..

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Cayman received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker