Dream Drive: Porsche Cayman GT4
"As much speed power and acceleration as you’ll ever need"
Every once in a while a car manufacturer produces a great car.
One that proves even more successful than even they planned, thus becoming an instant classic. By this we mean not a classic in the accepted usage of the term, but more so as a unique and sought after modern production car of its era, one that makes its mark because it is special, unique, and unquestionably desirable. Examples are the Lotus Elan, the E-Type Jaguar, the original VW Golf GTI and many others you may care to name.
Fast forward to here and now, and everyone’s raving about the Porsche Cayman GT4. This limited production junior sibling to the Porsche 911 has at last been allowed to prove what many of us (including Porsche) previously knew: the Cayman is as good as a 911. It is only that Porsche had chosen to tame its potential…until now. Whilst retailing officially at an enticing circa £68,000, it will easily spec up to £80,000 and as the limited supply of only 50 to the UK has sold out, it is trading hands at £20k premiums now. Motoring scribblers being the few who get the chance to drive it, are gushing about this car. It’s become a kind of God on wheels as a result. Bet that helps the premiums no end.
But how good really is the Cayman GT4 ? We took the car to North Wales on some of the UK’s finest driver’s roads to explore its true dynamic capabilities. It’s about 240 miles to Betsw-y-Coed from London, mostly motorway and for the best part traffic laden. Our bright yellow GT4 seemed as good a place to be as any, and judging by the number of admiring glances we were providing regular eye candy for the other drivers.
Yet it was pretty noisy sitting in that cabin with lots of interesting but intrusive gurgles and whirrs. The Bose had to be turned up pretty high to counteract the noise.
Time to take stock of what we’ve got here: A 911 Carrera S engine was the biggest lump the Cayman could accommodate, along with various super high performance suspension components taken from the GT3 and ultimate top end Porsche 918. Unlike the standard car it’s built at Weissach where Porsche make their serious top level racers. It has a longer nose than the standard Cayman for better engine breathing and improved aerodynamics all round, ultimately distinguished by the pronounced rear wing. Add to that a lower ride height of 30mm, GT3 derived wheels, carbon ceramics, and a beautiful six speed manual gearbox powering the rear wheels and we are set to assault North Wales.
The B5105 put paid to any concern for road noise. The GT4 is raw. You want that sound for it is matched with purposeful urge and ultimate precision handling, almost clinically so. It soon becomes clear that the GT4 has capabilities well in excess of opportunity on the road. Second gear alone is good enough for over 80mph, and with an 8,000rpm red line it is the driver who is on test, not the car.
That said, don’t expect a powerhouse of speed and power for it isn’t that. Yet there’s as much speed power and acceleration as you’ll ever need; your attention will need to be focused more on your own abilities and less on that of the car’s. The suspension has been set up for the Nurbergring rather than Sunday lunch at the Cock and Bull, so it’s pretty harsh ride quality is a given. You’ll have no need to press the button for stiffening up the suspension even more unless you use the car on track…and most of its owners will. That’s when it becomes the Porsche GT4 Track Master and you become the Stig.
The joy of the Cayman GT4 is in exploiting the fantastic combination of excellent steering/chassis feel and precision, exemplary four wheel steer handling, a gear change with a beautiful slick precise action and a jewel of an engine that revs to oblivion.
Your job is to develop flow, to feel your way into fast bends letting the chassis and its 45/55 front to rear balance feel its way into and adapt to the road. You’ll feel you’re doing a disservice to the car unless you respond to its urge. Built with such high limits the GT4 feels incredibly safe for there is more grip than ultimate power, yet it is delivered in a civilised but piercing fashion under hard throttle, rooting the rear end to the ground rather than frightening the hell out of you.
One day later I am reflecting. Admittedly it wasn’t as comfortable as expected over many hundreds of miles, more seat adjustability than rib hugging would have helped. Accommodation wise it’s good though – having a boot back and front is a real luggage carrying advantage. Purist as it is, we’d like just that little bit more power for the noise and refinement trade off that comes with owning a GT4.
But hey ‘what a Motor’ as they say, the GT4 proves there is still a place for true driving enjoyment in the modern world, and for that Porsche must be applauded. Thank you Porsche for reminding us that technology can never replace the intrinsic enjoyment of a true driver’s car.
Engine type: 6 cylinders, 3,800cm3 | Maximum power: 385hp @ 7,400 rpm | Maximum torque: 420Nm @ 4,750 rpm | Transmission: 6-spd manual | Top speed: 183mph | 0-62mph: 4.4 secs | Urban: 19.1mpg (14.8 l/100km) | Extra Urban: 36.2mpg (7.8 l/100km) | Combined: 27.4mpg (10.3 l/100km)