New Car: 2011 Porsche Cayman R

As much as we like the Porsche 911, the Caymanis better to drive in many ways, thanks in large part to its lighter weight and optimal mid-engine layout. But Porsche has been careful to keep the Cayman in its place, limiting horsepower and spinning off a handful of appearance variants; after all, a high-performance version would have the potential to render its much-pricier big brother all but obsolete. Nevertheless, we’ve continued to ask Porsche about a quicker, lighter, and even more agile variation of the Cayman—and now such a thing exists. Meet the Cayman R, essentially the fixed-roof version of the Boxster Spyder.

The 3.4-liter flat-six engine receives a power boost, if just a slight one—at 330 hp, it tops the Cayman S and Boxster Spyder by a mere 10 hp. (Repeat after us: “Protect the 911.”) More important, however, is that Porsche managed to pull 121 pounds out of the Cayman, and an optional lithium-ion battery will shave another 20-plus pounds. (That battery won’t be cheap, though, as it costs $1700 in the 911 GT3.) The entire set of lightweight, 19-inch wheels comes in under 90 pounds, too, and they’re identical to the Spyder’s.

Of course, you can squander a significant part of the weight savings, a whopping 55 pounds, by ordering the optional seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission. The PDK shifts more quickly than you can and is exceedingly well programmed, but Porsche’s satisfying six-speed manual remains our choice. With the latter transmission, Porsche says the Cayman R will sprint from 0 to 62 mph in five seconds flat and reach a top speed of 175 mph. The PDK is said to slash the 0-to-62 time to 4.9 seconds—or 4.7 on PDK-equipped Rs with the help of the Sport Chrono package’s launch control—but top speed drops by a whole 1 mph. Porsche’s acceleration estimates are very conservative, though, and we pedaled a manual Cayman S to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, so real-world testing of a manual Cayman R should produce a figure somewhere in that vicinity. On the chassis front, the suspension has been lowered by 0.8 inch.

Also lowered is the level of amenities, although Porsche hasn’t yet provided a detailed list of exactly what’s been deleted. We do know that the interior door panels now have strap releases in place of conventional pulls, and that the stereo is deleted. Expect the A/C to be tossed, too (with the option to add it and a stereo right back in again for extra cost). The center console and dash trim are color-matched to the exterior, which press photography confirms will be available slathered with mucous-green paint. Outside, a more purposeful look comes courtesy of black headlight surrounds, black side vents and mirror caps, a fixed rear spoiler, and stripes on the lower body side.

While the Cayman R’s lightweight approach parallels that of the Boxster Spyder—which we crowned theBest-Handling Car for Less Than $100K—this car doesn’t require the compromise of the Spyder's flimsy, manual-operated roof/tent thing. As such, we like to think of the R as the poor man's GT3. Well, only sort of poor: U.S. pricing will start at $67,200 when the Cayman R goes on sale next February.
Thanks to: Car and Driver


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