2009 Porsche Cayman — Flash Drive
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2012.
By Staff of MSN Autos
Plenty of vehicles match up with the Cayman on paper, but there's more to this little sports car than numbers on a page. The base-level Cayman has never been what you'd call powerful. But keeping the revs high provides more than adequate oomph to make the driving experience exciting. High rpms also bring out a nice sound from the big rear pipes. What really sets the Cayman apart from the competition, however, is Porsche's PDK transmission, which enables smooth gear changes with no interruption in the flow of power. It can be operated in both manual and automatic modes. While I always prefer to shift myself, the auto mode changes gears with impressive quickness. I tried manual mode but found that automatic mode seemed to operate smoother with no loss in performance. As with every Porsche I've driven, handling is excellent, with tight steering and seemingly perfect balance. The ride is a bit stiff, but not uncomfortable. There's not much space for storage in the cabin, but I was surprised at how much space is provided in the two trunks (one front, one rear). —Perry Stern
The Porsche Cayman is a driving enthusiast's dream car, with an exquisitely beautiful design and a precise and purposeful demeanor. Everything about this car is geared toward driving. For 2009, the Cayman doesn't look all that much different — a few minor cosmetic updates here and there. The big news is the addition of Porsche's 7-speed PDK transmission. The PDK is geared for efficiency, so unless you have the throttle pedal pinned to the floor, it upshifts early to the next gear and drops out of the power band. Ironically, this efficiency seems to sap some of the fun out of the driving experience, and I found myself looking for a sport mode to hold the lower gears longer. The solution is shifting manually via the buttons on the steering wheel. Unfortunately, they are rather clunky compared with the shift paddles found on many lesser cars. Regardless of the issues associated with the PDK, the Cayman is still a fabulous car, and the PDK offers a new high-tech solution for drivers who prefer automatic shifting. —Mike Meredith
Porsche makes many great cars. It makes engaging, entertaining, thrilling cars. But this Cayman, with the smaller engine and the PDK automatic transmission, is one of the most boring and pointless cars I've ever driven. In this guise, the underlying perfection of the Cayman shines through in an utterly unobtrusive and subtle way. When driving along a twisty canyon or through a city street, it takes real effort to notice how well the car does absolutely everything. It glides wherever you want it without breaking any kind of sweat. But unless you want a virtual refrigerator on wheels, albeit one with a Porsche logo on the front, then please, please, please buy a manual transmission or the larger engine. With either upgrade, or preferably both, you will be entertained and amused at all times. Otherwise, the basic Cayman with PDK is forgettable. —Paul Hagger
The Porsche Cayman is a one of the purest sports cars on the market today. Weighing less than 3,000 pounds and sporting a midengine layout, the Cayman handles well and is nimble when driven in a spirited fashion. In fact, the top-of-the-line Cayman model actually gives the 911 a run for its money in performance. The Cayman tested came equipped with Porsche's new PDK 7-speed transmission and the 265 horsepower flat 6-cylinder engine. The PDK transmission is smooth when driving in traffic, and is very quick when using the paddle shifters. However, there is a learning curve when using Porsche's paddle shifters as the setup is different than its competitors. The suspension is firm and provides great handling when taking a winding road, though it can get tiring if you are driving around town doing errands. For such a small sports car, it is surprising to see so much cargo room in the front and in the back. And as always, Porsche options can easily push the cost up, so you have to narrow down your wish list. —Joe Chulick