2006 Porsche Cayman S front view
The Porsche Cayman debuted for 2006 as this 295-horsepower S model.
See more pictures of the Porsche Cayman.

The Porsche Cayman may look like a hatchback coupe version of the midengine Porsche Boxster convertible, but Porsche's newest car is more than that -- or so the company insists.

Actually, the Porsche Cayman exists to bridge what had been a fairly big price gap between the Porsche Boxster and 997-series Porsche 911 Carrera that was introduced for 2005.

It's also intended to outpoint the Boxster as a driver's car, but not to outshine the 911 for speed and status. Which makes the Porsche Cayman another of those "niche market" exercises so beloved by automakers nowadays. All the same, the Cayman is an impressive Porsche in its own right. In fact, some think it a better ride than the 911 Carrera, especially as it's more affordable.

Designated 987 C7S, the Cayman was developed alongside the Type 987 Boxster, which went on sale for model year 2005. Cayman followed that second-generation Boxster to market by about a year. The veil came off at the September 2005 Frankfurt Show. U.S. deliveries began the following March, also for the 2006 model year.

Porsche says the Cayman shares about 40 percent of its components with the 987 Boxsters, which share some 55 percent of their parts with 997 Carreras. Critics often deride such "family planning," but not here. And it contributed to the Cayman's speedy 36-month gestation.

2006 Porsche Cayman with hatch closed
The Cayman is in effect a coupe version of the open-top Porsche Boxster.

Reversing longtime policy, Porsche introduced the Cayman in upmarket S trim, delaying a lower-power base version to the 2007 lineup. The name refers not to the Caribbean islands favored as a corporate tax haven, but to that species of Latin American alligator, which means the badge should read "Caiman." Oh, well, this isn't the first time a carmaker has taken such liberties.

The Porsche Cayman coupe, as appearances suggest, is much like the Porsche Boxster roadster below the windows. Both use a 95.1-inch wheelbase and spread 70.9 inches wide. The coupe, however, is about a half-inch taller and longer than the roadster at 54.1 and 172.1 inches, respectively.

In addition, Cayman's rear haunches are subtly raised to harmonize with the new roofline, which slopes rakishly down from a 911-style "peak" over the two seats. Porsche Caymans also get their own front fascia with a larger central air slot and outboard intakes fronted by a body-color horizontal bar carrying a round foglamp. (Boxsters carry those in oblongs.)

Providing more visual snap to the Porsche Cayman is a body side crease line above the sills that kicks up at the rear-fender intakes, which have vertical instead of the Boxster's horizontal strakes, and are shaped to match the angle of the roof's fixed rear-quarter windows.

Taillights are common, but the Porsche Cayman has a specific rear fascia and an exclusive two-piece rear spoiler. As on the Boxster, the wing automatically rises above 75 mph to stand about 3.5 inches tall; it powers down when speed falls below 50 mph.

Lifting the Cayman's large hatch reveals a bi-level cargo bay divided by an aluminum-trimmed brace linking the rear strut towers. The shallower forward space caters to small-item storage with twin cubbies and a cargo net. A thoughtful "luggage retention bar" between the seatbacks keeps stuff from flying forward in a hard stop.

With 9.2 cubic feet here and another 5.3 in the front trunk, the Cayman's cargo volume totals 14.5 cubic feet versus the Boxster's 9.5. Aside from this, a restyled instrument binnacle and minor trim, the Cayman cockpit is virtually identical with the Boxster's.

2006 Porsche Cayman with hatch lid open
The Cayman's rear luggage area is both atop and behind its mid-mounted engine.

Check out the complete story of Porsche cars, including these fabulous models:

Porsche 356

Porsche 911

Porsche 914

Porsche 924, 944, 968

Porsche 928

Porsche 959

Porsche Boxster

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayman

For prices, reviews, and more on Porsche from the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, see: