The Porsche Cayman GT4
is a car Jalopnik has been waiting for since the Clinton administration. Now they’ve driven it. Can it possibly live up to their expectations? Let’s find out.
No modern sports car seems quite as underappreciated as the Porsche Cayman. We can almost imagine poor, er, Caymanella scrubbing the garage floor as its rear-engined stepsisters speed merrily off to the ball — or racetrack, as it were.
But what’s this? Porsche’s GT boss Andreas Preuninger emerges from the shadows. He summons his Weissach minions, and in a flourish of Stahlwille wrenches, they transform Caymanella into the enchanting GT4. Happy in its new guise, Caymanella rushes off for a half-day of merriment on a racetrack in Portugal, and wins the heart of a Handsome Prince (that’s me, I guess?).
Alas! At the first stroke of 12, the spell is broken. Caymanella vanishes into the noonday sun. The heartbroken Prince shambles wretchedly toward the airport, with just a memory of off-camber corners taken at ridiculous speeds to comfort him during a long, boozy flight home. In his twilight sleep, a hazy coalescence of a new sports car and an old fairy tale.
The moral? The Porsche Cayman GT4 is an absolute masterstroke, a delight to toss headlong over blind crests and into fast bends, and a fitting halo for the Cayman ethos. Finally, we have a Cayman that inhabits that ephemeral desire-space of bedroom wall posters, magazine spreads and fastidiously planned savings accounts. The GT4, forgive me, is made of want.
It’s exciting to see Porsche’s mid-engine platform reaching its potential. While even the base Cayman’s playful disposition had me at hello, tuners have, for years, taken it on themselves to expand its top spec. Back in 2007, race team and tuning shop Farnbacher Loles, now defunct, built a Cayman “GTR” with a 395-hp 911 Carrera S engine. Motorsports tuner Rick DeMan, of Blauvelt, NY has built several “GT3” models for the street and track. Clearly, if Porsche wasn’t going to deliver an edgier Cayman, someone else would.
Now, Weissach is involved, and that means the mojo of the Porsche GT team, lead by Mr. Preuninger, is in effect. That team’s era began with the dazzling 996 GT3 in which rally legend and Porsche development driver Walter Röhrl lapped the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7:56, back when witnessing a road car crack eight minutes on the ‘Ring was like eyeballing Sasquatch on your back porch. A decade-and-a-half later, and the Cayman GT4 — Porsche says — can do the deed 16 seconds quicker. With a time of 7:40, the GT4 is in league with the previous-generation GT3. Even better, mere mortals can derive actual enjoyment from driving the Cayman GT4 beyond the rarified air of the Eifel mountains.
What was the engineering brief? Take the Cayman, make it wider and stiffer and more responsive. The simple formula: a judicious treatment of powerplant, suspension and aero, and a manual transmission. The engine, based on the Carrera S’s boxer six – flipped 180 degrees and shoehorned into the Cayman’s compact center bay — produces 385 hp and 310 lb-ft. Porsche engineers insist there’s nothing nefarious in the slight detune from the Carrera S’s 400 hp, but is the result of the Cayman’s particular intake challenges, and subsequent manifold redesign.
And while purists may balk at the lack of a “special” GT build, like the 911 GT3’s 9000-rpm cooker, the 3.8-liter is a lovely engine that makes great sounds, and hucks the lighter Cayman down a stretch of pavement with a delicious crackle of kinetic energy. With the concept proven, what’s to stop the GT boys from continuing the Cayman’s march to glory? We’ll see.
Porsche hasn’t said how many GT4s they will build, but I can’t imagine they won’t will sell every one they make.
And all of them will, most assuredly, live happily ever after.
Original article posted on Jalopnik