First Drive Review: 2009 Porsche Cayman S PDK
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2012.
By K.C. Colwell of Car and Driver
First came the 911. Then the Boxster. Now the Cayman is the Porsche getting revised engines (including direct fuel injection for S models) and a new seven-speed twin-clutch transmission dubbed Porsche Doppel-Kupplungsgetriebe — or PDK, for those not inclined to German. PDK replaces the aging Tiptronic five-speed manumatic transmission. The base Cayman's engine gets a 0.2-liter and 20-hp boost to 2.9 liters and 265 hp, and the Cayman S gains an additional 25 horses, up to 320.
The extra power isn't life changing. Subjectively, the Cayman S PDK we drove (Porsche didn't let us drive any other setup) felt about as quick as the 2008 model. Porsche claims a PDK-equipped Cayman S will accelerate to 62 mph in 4.9 seconds when performing a start in sport plus mode with launch control, a feature only available with the optional Sport Chrono package. We'd call that an extremely conservative estimate, considering the 4.8-second sprints we've whipped out of a 295-horse, manual-transmission S model and that launch-control starts are engineered to allow the car to accelerate as quickly as physics will allow. We'll have to wait to test both transmissions to see which is ultimately quicker, but for now our money is on the PDK, with the manual a 10th or two behind.
Shift Buttons Bad, Limited-Slip Good
A notable first for the Cayman is the availability of an optional limited-slip differential. It can be coupled to the standard six-speed manual or the PDK gearbox. Both transmissions also have a hill-start assist feature.
Driving Pleasure at Its Best
Porsche has also tweaked the steering slightly on 2009 models. It's still direct and communicative — we have described the Cayman's steering as "far from numb" in the past — but it seems as though artificial weight has been introduced into the system, although we might be splitting hairs.
Like applying just a bit of makeup, Porsche lightly restyled the exterior of the Cayman S. The headlights now feature an LED strip similar to those found on the latest 911s and many Audis. They serve as the daytime running lamps. The front fascia is modified as well, and the trapezoidal grille's orientation is changed. The taillights are more sculpted, too. Inside, there's the latest version of the Porsche Communication Management system. The new touch-screen navigation system reduces the button count from a busy 32 to a manageable 16. The controls are far better than the old system that used a spinning wheel to select commands.
As with the updated Boxster, the 2009 Cayman S takes a great car and makes it even better. What's not to like about that?