The company has invested some money in its potent mid-level sports car, the Cayman, which debuted in 2005 as a 2006 model. Four years into the model run, Porsche has freshened the 2009 Cayman with a mild restyling of the front and rear — headlights and taillights mostly — and has added power.
The base Cayman gets a larger, 2.9-liter six-cylinder engine, with 265 horsepower. And the uplevel Cayman S now has a 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine, with horsepower boosted from 295 to 320. The Cayman S still isn't playing in the same league as the flagship 911, but it's closer than ever.
On the Cayman S test car, that new engine is matched with a new seven-speed "Doppelkupplung" transmission — that translates to "double clutch," meaning that while this transmission operates as an automatic, it can be shifted manually, thanks to internal clutches. It's an effective update of the Tiptronic transmission, but whether you think it's worth the $3,420 option price over the six-speed manual is up to you.
There is no denying, though, that this new transmission maximizes the engine's muscle, and it feels like more than 320 horsepower, pulling strongly from a standing start, up through and well past legal limits. And fuel mileage is surprisingly good: An EPA-rated 20 mpg city, 29 mpg on the highway, thanks in part to that seventh speed that lets the engine lope along at freeway speeds.
The handling is excellent and the ride is surprisingly good. Steering is quick but not twitchy. Brakes are superb.