Porsche Cayman 981 – The Story
Inching Closer to Perfection
This is your center for all things second gen Porsche Cayman (built on the 3rd gen Boxster platform).
The Story / Timeline / Model Guides / Performance & Specs / Data & Research / Pictures & Videos / News & Updates
The 981 Cayman was – and remains – a benchmark car, and when it arrived as a 2013 model year car. It was getting closer to the 911 in terms of desirability and performance. The design was sleeker and more modern than the odd-looking earlier generation and it still looks great today. It got a longer wheelbase, wider tracks and lower overall height. The front and rear views of the 981 stay true to the Cayman with some distinct differences. The headlights become slightly sharper and more square. The air intakes up front are also sharper and somewhat more aggressive with new LED array daytime running lights filling the round fog lamp openings. In the rear there is a new wider aero wing that integrates into the taillights to deliver a smooth uninterrupted body line.
Beyond these obvious differences in physical dimensions, the body of the 981 uses Porsche's newest weight savings design of mixed steel and aluminum construction. Aluminum makes up 44% of the 981's chassis, including the front and rear body, floors, doors, and front and rear trunk lids. Despite the fact that this body uses less steel than its predecessor, its torsional rigidity has been increased by 40% while chassis weight has gone done by 100 pounds, resulting in a gross vehicle weight loss of 66 pounds. The 981 sits on larger wheels than the 987, with 18 inch wheels standard on the Cayman, 19 inch standard on the Cayman S and optional 20 inch wheels available on both. These wheels are fitted with new improved tires that provide 7% less rolling resistance than those available on a 2013 Cayman, resulting in better efficiency. Longer wheelbase, wider track, less weight, bigger wheels and higher torsional rigidity are sure to deliver improved driving performance.
The new interior has very little in common with the original. We're dealing with a clean sheet of paper here and it looks great. The center console is higher with the sifter that's much closer to the steering wheel. The dash top is flatter, further away and the Sport Chrono stopwatch is recessed nicely into the dash top, eliminating the wart that drew so much criticism in the 987s. Controls are made up of many high quality push buttons logically located around the interior and able to give instant access without menus or drill downs, the way all sports cars controls should be. The door panels are new, modern, elegant and very Carrera GT. The door's storage pockets swing out now, replacing the armrest doors of the 987. They offer a bit less storage than the 987 door pockets, so a little storage has been added in front of the door pockets and on the sides of the center console. The steering wheel tilt and telescopic controls are now electric, making it possible for the wheel to move in and up during exit and for the system to memorize different driving positions.
The instrument cluster is similar to the 987 cluster in the fact that it displays 3 round gauges to the driver, but that's where the similarity ends. The new 981 cluster has a color LCD display in the right and left sides making it possible to display far more information. For the first time since 1997, Porsche has given a sports car other than the 911 an oil pressure and oil temperature gauge, (though displayed digitally without an analog gauge), once again addressing complaints about prior versions.
The power train of the 2014 Caymans are probably the single biggest carry over item from the previous model. The 9A1 engine first appeared in 2009 and continued on into the new 981 Caymans. The biggest difference we see in the 981 is that the Cayman engine displacement has been reduced from 2.9 liters back down to 2.7 liters (like it was in 2007). But before you cancel your order or jump to the S model take notice that the new smaller Cayman engine actually makes 10 horsepower more than the big brother it has replaced, producing 275 horsepower and propelling the new Cayman from 0-60 mph in as little as 5.1 seconds - actually faster than a 2006 Cayman S while delivering 32 mpg on the highway (when equipped with PDK and Sport Chrono Plus).
The Cayman S engine displacement is unchanged at 3.4 liters. Power is increased by 5 horsepower to 325, shooting the S from 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds while delivering as much as 30 miles per gallon (PDK & Sport Chrono+). There are two transmissions choices available in the 2014 Caymans, both carrying over from 2013. The Cayman and Cayman S come standard with the 6 speed manual gearbox, which means the 5 speed manual has officially been retired. The 7 speed PDK is available as an option in either model.
Note: We haven't lost our minds. We are classifying the second generation Cayman as the third generation Cayman on this website. The reason is simple. The Cayman (project 981C) and the third generation Boxster (project 981) shared the same mid-engine platform and many components. Since both the Boxster and Cayman have stayed in lockstep, it made sense to to align generations for the purposes of research. This is why you will see the second generation Cayman referred to as the third generation Cayman on our site.
Type: 981C (981) / Generation: Second Generation / Manufacturer: Porsche AG / Production Years: 2012 - 2016 / Model Years: 2013 - 2016 / Body Style: 2-Door Coupe / Layout: Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive / Engines: 2.7 L MA1.22 flat-6, 3.4 L MA1.23 flat-6, 3.8 L MA1.24 flat-6 / Transmission: 6-speed manual, 7-speed PDK / Official photos: 2012 November 28, GTS 2014 March 19 / Premiere: 2012 November 28 at Los Angeles Auto Show, GTS 2014 April 20 at Auto China in Beijing / Market launch: 2013 March 2 (as a 2014 model), GTS 2014 May
This graphic breaks out the 981 generation Porsche Cayman in terms of timelines and how to tell all the models apart. Both the 981 Cayman and Cayman S were release together. For the 2015 model year Porsche gave us the Cayman GTS and that same year we also saw the Cayman GT4. The 981 GT4 racing version had the same 911 3.8-litre 283 kW engine as the street legal GT4.
Porsche 981 Cayman Model Guides (2013 - 2016)
The Cayman S benefitted from the same engine and running gear as Porsche's latest 3.4-litre version of the 911 while the base Cayman a 2.7-litre engine. The Cayman GTS was introduced in 2014 and it got a slightly more powerful engine, a new body kit, new 20-inch Carrera S wheels, new Bi-Xenon headlights, and a new sports exhaust system. In 2015, the ultimate track oriented version of the Cayman was launched and it was an instant hit. The Cayman GT4 had a revised and a slightly de-tuned version of the 3.8-litre flat-six engine from the 911 (991) Carrera S. The GT4 was available only with a 6 speed manual transmission and weighed 1,340 kg, and had a number of track-focused options and hardware changes.
Porsche Cayman 981 Special Models
On 6 October 2015, Porsche announced a racing version of the Cayman GT4 called the Cayman GT4 Clubsport. As opposed to the road going Cayman GT4, the Clubsport version is fitted with Porsche's PDK double clutch transmission. For testing purposes Porsche Motorsport built a few tarmac rally cars based on the Cayman 981 GT4 racing version. The Cayman rally car was the course car for the WRC (World Rally Championship) 2018 ADAC Rallye Deutschland. The FIA R-GT Cup was contested on tarmac rounds of the ERC and WRC, like the German WRC event.
Porsche Cayman 981 Specs & Performance Summary
The biggest difference we see in the 981 is that the Cayman engine displacement has been reduced from 2.9 liters back down to 2.7 liters (like it was in 2007). The new smaller Cayman engine actually makes 10 horsepower more than the big brother it has replaced. The Cayman S engine displacement is unchanged at 3.4 liters and power is up slightly. Performance increases across the board as you can see in the below numbers.
|Specifications||981 Cayman 2.7||981 Cayman S 3.4||981 Cayman GTS 3.4||981 Cayman GT4 3.8|
|Model Years||2013 - 2016||2013 - 2016||2015 - 2016||2015 - 2016|
|Layout||Mid-engined, RWD||Mid-engined, RWD||Mid-engined, RWD||Mid-engined, RWD|
|Chassis||Steel monocoque||Steel monocoque||Steel monocoque||Steel monocoque|
|Body||Mainly steel||Mainly steel||Mainly steel||Mainly steel|
|Length / width / height||4374 / 1801 / 1293 mm||4374 / 1801 / 1293 mm||4374 / 1801 / 1293 mm||4374 / 1801 / 1293 mm|
|Wheelbase||2,474 mm||2,474 mm||2,474 mm||2,474 mm|
|Engine Full||2.7 L Nat Aspirated Flat-6||3.4 L Nat Aspirated Flat-6||3.4 L Nat Aspirated Flat-6||3.8 L Nat Aspirated Flat-6|
|Capacity||2706 cc||3436 cc||3436 cc||3800 cc|
|Max power||261 bhp @ 6700 rpm||311 bhp @ 6700 rpm||330 bhp @ 6700 rpm||380 bhp @ 7400 rpm|
|Max torque||206 ft lbs @ 4500 rpm||265 ft lbs @ 4500 rpm||272 ft lbs @ 4500 rpm||310 ft lbs @ 4750 rpm|
|Transmission||6-speed manual, 7-speed PDK||6-speed manual, 7-speed PDK||6-speed manual||6-speed manual, 7-speed PDK|
|Suspension layout||All struts||All struts||All struts||All struts|
|Kerb weight||2,888 lbs||2,976 lbs||3,083 lbs||3,050 lbs|
|Top speed||164 mph||173 mph||175 mph||183 mph|
|0-60 mph (sec)||5.2 seconds||4.6 seconds||4.1 seconds||4 seconds|
|1/4 Mile Time (sec)||14.0 seconds||12.7 seconds||12.5 seconds||12.3 seconds|
981 Cayman 2.7:
981 Cayman S 3.4:
981 Cayman GTS 3.4:
981 Cayman GT4 3.8:
Porsche 981 Cayman Pictures, Galleries & Videos
Watch our curated Cayman 981 videos and galleries. We have everything from the early reviews to in-depth comparisons and journalists spanking the Cayman GT4 for all it is worth. This is a great way to spend a few hours.
Porsche Cayman News & Updates
Recent auctions, awesome review videos, new model announcements and all the latest news and posts regarding anything to do with the Porsche Cayman.
Join Our Porsche Community
Sign up for our weekly Porsche newsletter. The latest Porsche news, rumors, reviews and more delivered to your inbox. Cool Porsche stuff perfect for the flat-six obsessed.