2012 Porsche Cayman R Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on January 30, 2012

Gorgeous! The Cayman R makes a sporting statement. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Unique front and rear fascia, black mirrors, big rear wing and 19-inch alloys, the Cayman R is ready to rumba. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

No door handles in this lightweight coupe... cool looking door pulls let you know the focus of the Cayman R is performance. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Driver focused cockpit is also a feast for tired eyes. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Carbon-fibre backed sport seats are light yet supportive. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

Published on January 30, 2012

When can you remove luxury equipment from a car and actually charge more? When it's a Porsche. The prime directive of the new 2012 Cayman R is to optimize performance by upping power, tweaking the suspension, adding larger wheels, and eliminating mass. The result?

The Cayman R loses its stereo, air conditioning, and interior door handles, but gets 10 more horsepower, a lowered sport suspension, a limited-slip differential, 19-inch 911 Spyder rims, while losing 55 kilos (122 lbs) of fat in manual trim or 54 kg (120 lbs) with the optional PDK automatic, which is how I tested it.

I love the 7-speed dual-clutch automated PDK (Doppelkupplung) transmission, and would probably opt for it if buying a new Porsche. It's easier to row through the paddles in traffic, or just leave in full automatic mode, and with quicker shifts than humanly possible with the 6-speed manual it's ready for playtime as soon as the road opens up. Certainly you don't get the same control as the manual, but life is a series of compromises and this is a compromise I recommend.

The Cayman R's 3.4-litre powerplant is a no-compromise affair, mind you, with no less than 330 horsepower at your right foot's beck and call. A total of 273 lb-ft of torque makes sure you'll get off the line quickly, with full output allowing a sprint to 100 km/h in 5 seconds flat for the manual or 4.9 seconds with the PDK; unless putting the PDK into Sport+ mode at which point 4.7-second sprints to 100 km/h are possible.

I didn't spend all my time pressing pedal to the floorboards of course, or pushing its front 235/35ZR19s and rear 265/35RZ19s to the limits of adhesion for that matter (although those limits are way beyond anything you can probably imagine thanks in part to hydraulic steering with only 2.5 turns lock-to-lock that makes for ruddy brilliant point and shoot cornering), but rather I simply enjoyed being with the Cayman R. Its ride is firm, but not jarring. Fortunately Porsche Canada added an audio system and air conditioning back into my car, plus they included the ultra-cool and oh-so useful Sport Chrono package, so I could play with its myriad functions while listening to tunes in climate controlled comfort, ensconced in super-supportive carbon-backed sport seats, strapped in by bright red seatbelts, perfectly matched to the bright red mesh door pulls that come with the R's 911 GT3 RS interior door panels – sweet. Unnoticeable are lightweight aluminum door skins, part of an upgrade body shell that gets Aerokit front and rear spoilers, too-cool contrasting side mirrors, black-framed halogen headlamps, and side stripes. In Peridot metallic the Cayman R is a graphic elixir for dull, dreary eyes, immediately lighting up the world that it blissfully passes by.

All this joy can be had for $76,685 including destination, or in the case of my PDK equipped Cayman R, $80,595. The upgraded engine will have you paying more for fuel, with estimates at 14.2 L/100km city and 7.1 highway with the manual or 14.0 and 6.6 with the automatic, compared to the 11.1 and 7.5 with the manual or 10.6 and 6.7 with the automatic in the Cayman S. Seems like a big whack in the wallet re its city mileage just for a 10 horsepower gain, especially considering the R's weight savings. Maybe the LSD and larger tires have a negative effect in start/stop traffic. Like all Porsches and most premium rides, you'll need to pony up for premium fuel too.

A big, big practical plus for the Cayman is cargo space. Granted, the two-seat roadster segment doesn't exactly play well to heavy hauling, but you'll be surprised at how much you can carry in any mid- or rear-engine Porsche's front trunk. It's squarish shape and well of depth allow for a lot of gear, and there's even more room under the rear hatch.

Other practical aspects of Cayman ownership include Bluetooth connectivity, an iPod interface, and all the expected luxury features, while Porsche offers myriad standalone options to help you personalize your ride.

I'll take mine just like Porsche built my beautifully balanced tester. Light, powerful, quick and agile, the Cayman R is totally focused on what matters most.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Porsche, 2012, Cayman R, $75,000 - $99,999,

Organizations: Porsche

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