2012 Porsche Cayman R
2012 Porsche Cayman R. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2012 Porsche Cayman R

Our 2012 Porsche Cayman R tester was painted in the most intriguing shade of Peridot Metallic green. My sax-playing friend Sasha described it thus: “It’s the colour of spring… of renewal; the colour of life.”

Sure, there were a few who thought the green was gaudy, but the essence of the $75,600 Cayman R is unarguable: it distils the sublime dynamics of the mid-engine Boxster/Cayman platform down to an even purer form. The colour of life indeed…

As last year’s Boxster Spyder was to the Boxster S, the Cayman R is a lightened, more powerful and increasingly focused version of the $70,900 Cayman S – already one of the finest handling cars money can buy.

2012 Porsche Cayman R
2012 Porsche Cayman R. Click image to enlarge

In its base form with six-speed manual transmission, the R weighs 55 kg less than a similarly equipped S. This comes from lighter 19-inch alloys, aluminum hood and door skins, a fixed rear spoiler replacing the powered unit, carbon-fibre shell sport seats and the deletion of the radio and air conditioning. And, oh yeah, those funky red fabric straps that replace the interior door handles. They might save a few grams, but they’re really there to spell out this car’s mission.

The Cayman R sits 20 mm lower on stiffer springs, and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with its two-stage dampers is not offered. We’re talking purity of purpose here, folks. Nonetheless, despite its firm ride, the R is hardly punishing in the way a non-PASM 911 can be.

The 3.4-litre direct-injection flat-six gains an extra 10 hp over the Cayman S thanks to a less restrictive exhaust and revised engine management. It puts out 330 horses at a lofty 7,400 rpm. Torque remains at 273 lb.-ft. at 4750 rpm.

2012 Porsche Cayman R
2012 Porsche Cayman R. Click image to enlarge

Of course, if your R is to be a daily driver you’ll want to buy back that automatic A/C (12 kg, thank you) for $2,010. My tester was fitted with an $800 audio/CD package.

Also on this car’s spec sheet was Porsche’s fab 7-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission that lightens your wallet by $4,180 – and adds 25 kg. With this tranny you’ll also want the $1,690 Sports Chrono Package that, along with the lap timer chrono thingy on the dashtop that I have yet to use or ever see in use, gets you the magic Sport Plus button that calls up a track-ready transmission map, launch control and a more lenient stability control program.

There’s no graceful way to get into the Caynman R, equipped as it is with those aggressively bolstered sports seats, but once ensconced in their firm embrace you’re ready for business. I found the seat supremely comfortable even over a two-hour drive. Larger framed individuals may not fit quite so well.

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