► Porsche Cayman GT4 put to the test
► Takes its 3.8-litre engine from 911 Carrera S
► It’ll be a rare sight: only 2500 will be made
A new Porsche sports car is always something to look forward to. But ever since the first details and spy photos of the Cayman GT4 emerged (and it was CAR that broke the story first) Porsche disciples have been working up a real frenzy of anticipation.
Because this is more than just a Cayman with a bit more power. Like all Porsches that wear a ‘GT’ badge followed by a number, this car is a thinly disguised circuit weapon. It’s all about pure performance, and not at all about posing.
What separates the GT4 from the rest of the Porsche Cayman range?
Compared with the Cayman GTS, which up until now was the most potent of the lot, it’s grown ever so slightly in length and width, and sunk in height – be prepared to scrape its pouting front lip on ramps and dips.
That extra bodywork, along with the unmissably lofty wing at the rear, produces 100kg of downforce at speed – matching the 911 GT3. The rear suspension’s changed too, now featuring ‘helper’ springs to pre-load the main springs under full rebound, and it’s attached to new 20-inch wheels with seriously fat, seriously grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
It needs the extra rubber because there’s more power to deal with, from the 3.8-litre flat six also found in the 911 Carrera S. It develops a healthy 380bhp (45bhp more than the Cayman GTS) and the GT4 develops 310lb ft of torque – not far off the 325lb ft of the 476bhp 911 GT3.
It’s borrowed a few parts from the GT3, in fact: the front axle and suspension, wheel bearings, ball joint mounts, shock absorbers, front tyres and optional carbon-ceramic brakes.
The only available gearbox is a manual, thankfully with six speeds rather than the busy seven-speeder from the base 911. Top speed? 183mph.
Enough numbers! What’s the Porsche Cayman GT4 like to drive?
For starters, there's the engine. It never seems to run out of revs, and when it eventually does, chances are you’re about to run out of road. With the mid- to high-end shove of a big bore V8 but the spine-tingling soundtrack of a flat six, it hits its stride at 4000rpm and revs freely and eagerly until the redline at 7800rpm - at which point its note is the stuff goose pimples are made of. Porsche may be plotting a turbocharged future for its flat sixes, but few engines exemplify natural aspiration as well as this one.
While the 911 Carrera GTS is 7mph quicker, the GT4 feels more aerodynamically stable. It’s rock-solid and truly confidence-inspiring; even gaping expansion joints and surprise surface variations can’t throw it off course. There’s a welcome lack of vertical body movement and the steering doesn’t tug wildly at cambers. Thankfully, Porsche has opted for a constant-rate, constant-effort setup for the helm, with understated servo effect – the right choice for a no-frills sports car like this.
There are two settings for the active PASM dampers: Normal (tailor-made for the Nordschleife) and Sport (best left for smooth GP circuits). There’s no swooshy Comfort mode. The ride is firm, certainly – it’s not a fan of manhole covers or cobblestones – but nor is it a solid-sprung sado-sled. Porsche says they were keen to make sure that although the GT4 was designed for the track, it wouldn’t be unbearable on the way there and back.
There’s a real progressiveness to the GT4’s limits. It’s less lurid than a BMW M4 and less dramatic than a GT3, but more effective than both in the fuss-free manner it puts its power down. No wonder it can lap the Nurburgring in 7:40min.
This test car was fitted with the optional carbon-ceramic brake discs, which are bigger than a large pizza at the front and cost a king´s ransom, but since they enable you to drop anchor so ridiculously late they’re probably worth at least 50bhp.
It really is quite special, this GT4. Its rare combination of huge grip and traction yet involving, intuitive handling make this car a remarkable drive, even by Porsche standards. Is it really worth £9k more than a Cayman GTS? In a word, yes.
To read the full, in-depth Porsche Cayman GT4 review, pick up a copy of the April issue of CAR magazine.