When Porsche introduced the Boxster based Cayman coupe for 2006, it was billed as a back-to-basics two seat sports car that was less complicated, and less expensive, than the fabled 911. But, by every performance measure, it was a pure Porsche, and Cayman sales took off. And, this year it gets even more hardcore. Following in the tire treads of the Boxster Spyder; it both sheds some weight and gains some power. So, let’s roll in the Porsche Cayman R.

Much like a prizefighter in the weeks leading up to a big fight, putting equal effort into bulking up and making weight, this 2012 Porsche Cayman R both adds muscle and loses a few pounds in hopes to improve what is already a tight, fun little package. So, we hit the track right away to see if it was effort well spent.

Off the line, the Cayman R hooks up and takes off the way only a Porsche can, on its way to 60 in 4.9-seconds. That is indeed 8-tenths quicker than the last Cayman that we tested. Opt for Porsche’s PDK dual clutch transmission and the Sport Plus package and you can shave another half second off of that. In our 6-speed manual test car, clutch feel is spot-on with lots of feedback for nice precise shifting throughout the 13.4-seconds that it takes to make it to the end of the quarter mile at 109 miles-per-hour. Looks like mission accomplished; but how much weight was lost and how much power was gained? 

Starting with weight, the Cayman R is 121-pounds lighter than a comparably equipped Cayman S. Those weight savings come from just about every part of the car. 

On the interior, canvas pull straps replace metal door handles; there are no steering wheel controls and no A/C, which didn’t endear it to many on our staff in this summer’s record heat. Sport bucket seats are lighter and the Cayman R also comes without a radio.  But it can be added back in, as in our test car, if the awesome sound of Porsche’s flat six is not enough music for your ears. A bigger chunk of that weight savings comes from new aluminum doors which save 33 pounds. They’re just part of the purpose built exterior look of the R, which sits 20-millimeters lower than a Cayman S. Up front, the revised front fascia features reworked intakes as well as splitter-style lowers.  

In profile, it’s hard to miss the Porsche side stripes or engine air intakes. And out back there’s a huge fixed wing, as well as center mounted dual exhaust tips, and last but not least, a black Cayman R logo. The package is completed by 19-inch lightweight alloy wheels with Bridgestone Potenza tires. 

Now, on to the power increase. The Cayman S’s 3.4-liter flat-6 adds 10 horsepower in the R, for a total of 330. Torque remains the same however, at 273 lb-ft. Being lighter and faster, it’s natural to assume that the R handles a lot better as well, and your assumption would be correct, as insanely quick steering with tons of feel gives you psychic-like control over this well balanced chassis. It maintains an extremely stout composure and there was virtually no body-roll whatsoever, as we worked our way through our slalom course. We tried, but we really couldn’t find anything to complain about. Very short 110-feet stops from 60 are nothing to complain about either. But, the peddle was like stomping on a brick with next to zero feedback.

Driven on the street, the Cayman R’s stiffer suspension is noticeable, but far from being a deal breaker. Our testers had many more complaints about the lack of A/C, then from a rough ride. 

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 19-City and 27-Highway with the 6-speed manual. Our 23.2 miles-per-gallon average on Premium is good for this type of performance car, and makes for a lower than average Energy Impact Score of 15.6-barrels of oil consumed per year, with a carbon footprint of 8.5 annual tons of CO2. 

As anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight by means of some method they saw on TV can tell you, it usually costs a lot of money, and the best results are not typical. The same can be said about the 2012 Porsche Cayman R. Its base price of $67,250 is $4,200 more than a Cayman S. In a typical car, that’s probably too much for only 10 more horsepower, and moderately less weight. 

Well, the Cayman R is far from being a typical car. It’s a faster, better handling version of what was already one of the best performance cars available. But, even more appealing than that is the exclusivity that comes along with 2012 Porsche Cayman R.  And that’s makes this trip more than worth the price.


  • Engine: 3.4 liter
  • Horsepower: 330
  • Torque: 273 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 13.4 seconds @ 109 mph
  • EPA: 19 city/ 27 highway
  • Energy Impact: 15.6 barrels oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 8.5 tons/yr