Performance and 0-60 time
Let’s start with the base Cayman and Cayman S. The good news is that even the ‘starter’ 2.7-litre direct-injection flat-six develops 275bhp and you can swap that for 325bhp if you go for the 3.4-litre Carman S – in each case you get 10bhp more than the equivalent Boxster models. The smaller motor isn’t overflowing with low and mid-range torque, as you’d expect, but it loves revs, and you’ll need plenty of them for it to do its best work.
It sounds good even without the sports exhaust option and the standard manual is about as much fun as you can have with three pedals and a lever so unless your heart is set on it, there’s little need for the optional PDK double clutch paddle-shift transmission. If you spec Sport Chrono and have ‘Sport Plus’ activated, you even get an assisted throttle-blip on downshifts that works so perfectly it could make even the most ham-fisted driver look and sound like a pro.
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The basic 2.7-litre Cayman with a manual 'box accelerates from rest to 62mph in a claimed 5.7secs and will eventually level out at 165mph. Go for a 3.4-litre Cayman S with PDK and Sport Chrono and those stats tumble to 4.7secs, with a notable plumping of the torque curve and aerobic reach, power on to a top speed of 174mph, the engine pulling heroically from 4,000rpm with a charismatic 911-esque hollow bark. The six-speed manual gearbox is exceptional, its half a dozen perfectly spaced ratios always feeling ideally matched to the power and broad torque delivery of the 3.4-litre flat-six.
But for those with something still more sporting on their mind, there’s the additional 14bhp and 7lb ft that come with the Cayman GTS, giving 335bhp and 280lb ft in total. All right, hardly earth-shattering gains and a mere tenth is sliced from the 0-62mph time in PDK guise but, married to the optional harder core Sport Suspension and stickier rubber, the subjective experience feels palpably faster and more focused.
For the ultimate Cayman hit, however, you’ll be needing a GT4 with 380bhp and 310lb ft from its 3.8-litre flat-six, a kerb weight of just 1380kg and a 6-speed manual gearbox only. That equates to a claimed 183mph flat out, 0-62mph in 4.4secs and a lap of the Nurburgring in 7-minutes 40 seconds. Read our full coverage of the Cayman GT4 here.