It’s no secret that Porsche likes to serve up its models in a variety of versions, some of which are much more exclusive than others. This is a milestone year for the Stuttgart-based manufacturer, since it decided to put a hopped-up version of the Cayman, the GT4, on the market. It’s the first real GT based on its mid-engine sport coupe.
As much as we liked the Cayman R, the GT4 is by far the most accomplished and long-awaited version. It is also precisely what was missing from the line-up.
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The basic Cayman has a 2.7-litre 275-horsepower six-cylinder engine, the S has a bit more punch with its 3.4-litre six-cylinder that develops 325 horsepower, and the Cayman GTS is the sportiest of the bunch with its superior 340-horsepower engine.
Genetically modified organism
Don’t be fooled, the Cayman GT4 isn’t just a slightly more advanced version of the existing model. Its DNA has been completely modified to make it a veritable race car that can still exercise a certain amount of restraint for everyday driving.
The newest member of the GT family inherits a 3.8-litre six-cylinder engine derived from the Porsche 911 Carrera S. This time, it pumps out 385 horsepower and, even though it’s heavier, this engine delivers outstanding performance, pushing the car from 0-100 km/h in about 4.4 seconds.
Since the Cayman GT4 is made for purists, there’s no PDK automatic in the catalogue. The only transmission is a six-speed manual and it’s rear-wheel drive.
Not an ounce of fat
The engineers also took several of the GT3’s technical aspects and implanted them into the GT4, lowering the chassis by 30 mm and using the same braking system. Optimizing performance meant making it as light as possible, which is why there’s greater use of carbon fibre. Any excess kilos were shed and the car has been stripped to the bare necessities. The door handles are replaced by straps and both the sound system and air conditioning are optional. The result is a very impressive weight-to-power ratio.
Even on the outside, the GT4 is markedly different from the other Caymans. It’s not entirely without character, but the goal was to enhance performance at all costs, so don’t expect to see any superfluous bling on it. The front end has a more aggressive look with three large openings that improve air circulation and the cooling of the front brakes.
The tail end features a bigger fixed spoiler on aluminium supports for extra downforce on the track. There are extra air intakes—known as side blades—behind the doors to let fresh air into the mid-engine.
At higher speeds, these scoops increase air pressure entering the engine, creating a supercharging effect. The connection with the road is entrusted to 20-inch tires that are exclusive to the GT4 and mounted on platinum-colour light alloy rims.
The cabin also comes with some exclusive features. Once again, the overall look is race car-inspired, with Alcantara on several surfaces, including the sport steering wheel. Our test car was enhanced with yellow stitching, seat belts and door straps to match the body.
At the wheel, we liked the ultra comfortable seats with excellent lateral support. You really feel like you’re in a race car. For even more exclusivity, you can opt for seats inspired by the ones in the Porsche 918 Spyder. This option costs a mere $5,400. Why not!
Race car DNA
We recently had the chance to take the Cayman GT4 for a few laps at the Porsche Experience Center. Right from the outset, the rich sound of the six-cylinder engine captivated us and reminded us that we were driving a singular Cayman. Since only a manual transmission is offered, it’s back to basics in terms of driving.
The clutch is very high and gets your left thigh working, so you’ll probably want to avoid day-to-day traffic. However, the transmission is very efficient and you’re sure to like its rev-matching system when downshifting, which means one less thing to worry about on the track.
Like black on asphalt
Because of its lower centre of gravity, the Cayman GT4 has a tremendous amount of poise: it literally sticks to the road and takes on corner after corner without batting an eye. It feels connected to the track. While the other versions of the Cayman don’t seem to have much pick-up, the GT4 really delivers. Its increased power unleashes the vehicle’s full potential, and the result is excellent performance for the price.
The braking is powerful, the steering ultra-precise, and you’ll enjoy testing the weight transfer on corners. It is undoubtedly the most balanced Cayman.
With its base price at a little more than $95,000, the Cayman GT4 is not the most affordable, but it’s worth every penny. Sure, it’s hard not to be wowed by a 911 GT3, but for half the price, the Cayman GT4 is also quite the beast, especially if you intend to take it out on the track.