Porsche's Cayman GT4


Car manufacturers talk to car journalists in code. It goes like this:

‘We will never make a car like the one you are suggesting’ actually means there’s nothing like it in the current product plan.

‘We have no plans to make a car like the one you are suggesting’ usually means they have plenty but none they are prepared to discuss.

‘We are not currently working on a car like the one you are suggesting’ is often the literal truth but only because they’ve already finished it.

But Porsche is slightly different, a car company that can usually be trusted to play with the straightest of straight bats and according to well tested procedures. I recall well Porsche insisting one particular press conference be conducted in German despite the fact that every single party to it including the Porsche engineer making the presentation was British.

So when Porsche said at the original launch of the Cayman that it would not make a GT version because GT Porsches were based on the cars they raced, and racing Porsches were 911s, I felt inclined to believe them.

But times change and in Porsche’s defence that was 10 years ago and now the car it said would not be made is carrying me around the Portimao race track, with me hooting with delight at the confidence with which it finds its way around this startlingly challenging circuit.

Compared to the hitherto fastest Cayman, the GTS, this new GT4 comes with a 3.8-litre engine instead of a 3.4, with 380bhp, a rise of some 45bhp with a commensurate increase in torque. It has a manual gearbox modified for shorter, quicker shifts, front suspension carried over direct from the GT3 911, and brand new rear suspension developed for this car alone. Like the GT3, it has owner-adjustable roll bars and you can change the suspension geometry for toe and camber as well. It has colossal GT3 brakes too. Visually you’ll spot most immediately that vast new air dam at the front and the rear wing whose angle can be altered and the resulting change in downforce at the back balanced by removing or replacing inserts in the front diffuser channels.

How much would you expect to pay for such a radically modified Cayman? Well at £64,451 it costs £9054 more than a Cayman GTS or, put another way, less than a Cayman GTS with automatic gears, ceramic brakes and sat nav. By contrast, the 911 GT3 costs over £100,000, or it would were it not already sold out.

So some allowances need to be made, for on both road and track expecting a GT4 car to behave like a GT3 car leads only to disappointment. The engine may be new to the Cayman, but it comes straight out of the back of a stock 911 Carrera S and because of the way the exhausts have to be routed, actually loses a little power in the transition. A screaming, searing, 9000rpm bespoke production like the same sized but almost 100bhp more powerful motor in the GT3 it is emphatically not.

Nor is it quite so thrilling to drive. It’s plenty fast enough and the brakes will knock the air from your lungs, but even at Portimao the GT4 is an endlessly accommodating, supremely forgiving car to drive on the limit. It’s hard even to make a mess of the gears because the car will perform rev-perfect downshift blips without you ever having to brush up your heel and toe technique. If you believe that with such cars that what you take out is proportional to what you put in, you might even conclude it’s just a little too easy.

On the other hand, you’re perhaps more likely to consider that it represents the perfect introduction into Porsche Motorsport product, a car that’s far more accessible both in price and character than the determinedly hardcore GT3.

And this is the most tantalising aspect of this new car: the gap both in cost and concept between the GT4 and GT3 is so great there is surely space for another, yet more focused Cayman between them. Lighter, more powerful, less compromising and priced at around £75,000. They could call it the Cayman GT4 RS. I asked Porsche if such a car was on the way and was told they had ‘no plans’ for such a car. Applying the formula explained at the start of this column, I take that as good news.


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