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First UK drive: Porsche Cayman GT4. Image by Porsche.

First UK drive: Porsche Cayman GT4
The Porsche Cayman GT4 is the Cayman we've all been wanting

   



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Porsche Cayman GT4

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

The GT department has created the Porsche Cayman GT4, the most hardcore Cayman yet, though good luck buying one.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche Cayman GT4
Price: 64,451 (78,479 as tested)
Engine: 3.8-litre flat-six petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door coupe
CO2 emissions: 238g/km (Band L, 490 per year)
Combined economy: 27.4mpg
Top speed: 183mph
0-62mph: 4.4 seconds
Power: 385hp at 7,400rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 4,750rpm

What's this?

Peak Cayman. The GT4 is the car we've been wanting since Porsche introduced its mid-engined 911 understudy. The GT department has been involved, taking time off from fettling GT3s, RSs and racers and applying some of its expertise on the Cayman. The result is the GT4, a Cayman with a 991 Gen I Carrera's 3.8-litre naturally aspirated flat-six punching the output up to 385hp, added to a chassis pick 'n' mix from the GT department's parts bin and some bespoke developments. Visually it gets an assertive look, with the high mounted rear wing, deeper front splitter, larger air intakes up front and on its flanks, signalling a more intense Cayman. The result is a far more focused, faster and engaging Cayman, which, given how good the standard cars are, is enticing indeed.

That the Cayman GT4 is only offered as a manual further defines its status as the purist's choice. The compromises are a bit greater then, but the promise of rewards are so much higher. The GT4 also represents a mark in time, a last hurrah for the naturally aspirated car, as the GT4's introduction was timed just before the 718 Cayman arrived with its 2.0- and 2.5-litre flat-four turbocharged units. The GT4 was always going to be a car Porsche and driving enthusiasts coveted, but that timing, allied to limited availability, means it's impossible to find one now for sale without a sizeable premium over its list price. Depreciation isn't likely to ever be an issue, either. That's a shame, as it means many will be viewed as investments, rather than be driven, and hence remain out of the hands of people who might actually do exactly that.

How does it drive?

Given the excellence of the car it's based on it comes as no surprise that the GT4 elevates the Cayman driving experience to a new level. The GT department has an uncanny ability to increase focus and intensity, without it being overly detrimental to the car's core attributes. Where it's most obvious though is the front axle, the mix of GT3 suspension elements and revised geometry adding information to the steering that builds on the already rich feel of the standard car's system. Turn-in is more immediate and grip from the front axle mighty. The rear is similarly faithful, aided not just by the suspension, but the standard fitment of dynamic engine mounts and Porsche Torque Vectoring with an electronically controlled limited slip differential.

The cornering speeds possible are far greater as a result, relating both to entry, mid-corner and exit speeds from the bend, allied to suspension that, while taut, delivers fine wheel and body control combined with a genuinely supple ride quality - as long as you resist the temptation to select the Sport chassis via Porsche Active Suspension Management. It's faithful enough that you can switch off the driver aids with assurance; the traction and stability control systems are not necessary when the limits are so easily read, and when it does eventually let go it does so without vice.

That inherent chassis balance is something that has always characterised the Cayman, and the GT4 builds on it significantly, turning it into arguably one of the most accomplished sports cars at any price point. That all make its original list price look like something of a bargain, even if, to get the very best from it, you'll need to have ticked a number of options boxes. The Sport Chrono pack and fixed back bucket seats are absolute essentials, the PCCB brakes arguably so too if you'll ever take it to a track - expensive though, at just shy of 5,000. Take it to a circuit and the GT4 can demolish some far more expensive rivals, but it's the engagement it brings that's of greater significance, thanks largely to that manual gearbox.

The six-speeder defines the GT4 for a number of reasons, primarily for the demands it makes of its driver, and the interaction it brings is a huge part of the GT4's appeal. The shift quality is among the best there is, decisive and well-weighted across its gate, while the clutch is precise and the pedals perfectly positioned to blip the throttle to ease downshifts. Frustratingly, it'll do so itself in Sport mode, and a dedicated switch to deselect this would be a good thing, allowing the sharper engine map of Sport without the intervention of the electronic heel-and-toe.

The shift might be excellent, but the gearing's long. Lengthy enough to allow 80mph in second, shorter ratios would make for a more immersive drive, and demand more gear changes from the otherwise excellent gearbox. The engine's performance is such it'll convincingly pull in the higher gears, but it also renders those upper gears irrelevant in faster driving. The engine betrays its relatively humble origins, too; there's no denying it's a powerful unit, but it lacks the sort of exotic intensity that's a characteristic of the GT department's powerplants. In isolation it sounds good through the standard sports exhaust, but of you've ever experienced a GT3's rasping intent and trigger responsiveness you might find the Cayman GT4 slightly lacking. Being at the end of the 987 Cayman series, you might find the infotainment a bit lacklustre, too, but if that's genuinely a concern then perhaps the GT4's not really your thing in the first place.

Verdict

The GT4 is a brilliant car, and the Cayman we've always wanted. It's a shame then that its introduction was so late in the 987 life-cycle, as it's already a footnote, albeit one most of us can't (and due to current market forces aren't ever likely to be able to) afford. The definitive Cayman then, though it loses out on a full five-star status here for its too long gearing and the off-the-shelf rather than proper GT department heart. Small criticisms in what's otherwise one of the most accomplished sports cars money can't buy. We'll be watching the prices with interest forever...

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Kyle Fortune - 7 Sep 2016



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2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. Image by Porsche.

2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. Image by Porsche.








 

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