Both the Porsche Cayman and the Porsche Boxster are built on the same platform; they offer almost identical options and they also cost fairly comparably across the range. The Boxster is offered as a convertible, and the Cayman is a strict 2-seater coupe.
The differences are notable, however. The Boxster is primarily aimed as a comfortable top-down cruiser, and the Cayman is aimed as a 2-seater sports car that is capable of rivaling the 911 when it comes to dynamic driving.
Choosing the better model between the two mostly depends on what you want from a car. If you are looking for a sportier car, the Cayman is better. If you want a more versatile platform, or if you enjoy driving a convertible, the Boxster is the better choice.
Considering a general Porsche customer loves a dynamic driving experience, the Porsche Cayman is probably a better car. However, choosing between a Cayman and a Boxster is like choosing between pizza or a burger; no matter what you end up getting, you will be satisfied with the outcome either way.
Engines: Cayman has a bit more power
One of the main selling points for any Porsche is the engine. The base model Cayman/Boxster models offer the same 2.7L flat-six engine with 265hp. And the 0-60 times are almost identical, but the Cayman manages to reach 60mph 0.1 seconds sooner.
The S and GTS Cayman/Boxster variants offer a slightly larger difference when it comes to the engine because the 3.4L unit in the Cayman GTS offers 15hp more, and the 0-60 time of the Cayman GTS is also a bit faster.
The top-of-the-line GT4 Cayman/Boxster Spyder versions offer a 3.8L flat-six engine from the older 911S models. The Cayman offers a slight power increase of 10hp. Both will eventually reach a top speed of 183mph, and the MPG results between the two are virtually identical.
Minimal design differences
Design is the most subjective aspect of this comparison, but there are lots of notable differences between the two. The roof of the Cayman is a bit longer, which makes the car look a bit sportier, but the differences between the standard Boxster/Cayman versions stop there.
The top-of-the-line Cayman GT4 and the Boxster Spyder, however, differ quite substantially. The Porsche Boxster offers a small fabric roof, a larger front-end lip spoiler, and a pair of roll hoops for roll protection. On the other hand, the GT4 offers larger wheels, a bigger, more aggressive front bumper, and a large rear spoiler.
Interior design and space: Cayman has more storage
From an interior design perspective, both of these are fairly similar. They both offer a high-quality, well-built interior with lots of plush materials such as soft leather, Alcantara, aluminum, or carbon fiber. Both the Boxster and the Cayman also offer comparable additional options for the interior.
It’s worth mentioning that the GT4 is offered with a dedicated race bucket seat option which cannot be optioned on the comparable top-of-the-line Boxster Spyder. Furthermore, the Cayman offers more storage space, 425 liters compared to the Boxster’s 280.
Driving experience: Top down or top up?
The driving experience is the area in which these two differ the most because the Cayman offers a more rigid chassis, more power, and less weight, and all of these translates to better high-speed driving compared to the Boxster.
On the other hand, the Boxster does offer the ability of top-down driving, which for some is a dealbreaker, and for others is a clear benefit. No matter the case, both the Cayman and the Boxster offer an exciting driving experience.
Value and final thoughts
Obviously, these two vehicles are fairly comparable. Some prefer the looks and the driving experience of the Cayman while others love the looks of a 2-seater roadster and the ability to lower the roof when the weather seems appropriate.
Both the Cayman and the Boxster start at around $60k for the entry-level versions. The Cayman costs $60,500, and the Boxster retails for $62,600. The Cayman T retails for $69,600, and the Boxster T retails for $71,700. There is also a $2k difference between the rest of the model range.
Between the two, the Cayman is a bit cheaper, but the differences are rather slim. That being said, it does seem like the Cayman offers that bit more for a slightly lower entry price point. But, if you truly do value top-down driving, then the choice is rather obvious.
Does the Cayman depreciate more than the Boxster?
Pretty much every Porsche sports car does not suffer much from great depreciation hits, including the Cayman/Boxster models. In the first three years of ownership, the Boxster is likely to lose around 28.3% of its original value, while the Cayman loses around 27.5%.
These margins are incredibly close which means that both models lose a similar amount of money after three years. The Boxster does cost a bit more upfront though. Kelley Blue Book has ranked both the Cayman and the Boxster as the 2nd and 3rd best sports car resale value propositions.
Is the Cayman/Boxster platform better than a 911 platform?
An entry-level Porsche Carrera 992 costs around $100k, or about $40k more than an entry-level Cayman does. The 911 is better looking, more powerful, and more desirable than a Cayman/Boxster. However, some enthusiasts truly do believe that the Cayman offers a more exciting driving experience, especially the GT4/Boxster Spyder models.
But the 911 is a true step above. Comparing a Porsche Cayman/Boxster to a 911 Carrera is like comparing a Rolex Submariner to a Rolex Daytona; they are very different and are both amazing and costly, but the 911 and the Daytona are simply built differently.
What is the best Porsche Cayman/Boxster to buy?
Between the Cayman and Boxster models, take the Cayman if you don’t care about convertibles, and take the Boxster if you love convertibles. Besides the top, these two also offer an identical model range with basically the same engines and configurations.
The best Cayman/Boxster models are the GTS/GT4/Boxster Spyder models. The 2021 Cayman GT4 costs around $100k, and for this money, you can buy a 911, but the GT4 certainly does offer a better driving experience than a standard 911 does.
If you prefer convertibles, the Boxster Spyder is a sleek top-of-the-line Boxster model that is likely not going to depreciate as much compared to more regular Boxster models. The same goes for the GT4. And who knows, the GT4 and the Boxster Spyder might as well be the last naturally aspirated Cayman/Boxster models in history.