The 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 is able to answer the challenge of being both reassuringly familiar and extremely different.
No one with previous experience of any other GT-badged 911 will probably be both offended or amazed by the way the Cayman drives…
…or the clinical skills by which can deal with the important business of being thrashed over a race track.
Yet, inside the world of Porsche’s GT division:
the point that the Cayman doesn’t have its engine hung behind its rear axle is a ground-shaking departure from the norm. And then there is its price tag: $85,595.
That will probably look like an absurd amount for a Cayman, but this is the least expensive GT-badged Porsche ever sold in the United States.
1. A Parts-Bin Special
The GT4 developing team made one important decision:
to provide the vehicle an engine from the traditional section of the Porsche business. In this situation, the 3.8-liter flat-six taken from the 911 Carrera S.
Doing this they allowed finances to be invested in other areas, such as giving the Cayman many of the same suspension system components as the current 991 GT3.
Also, great news will be the presence of a 6-speed manual gearbox, confirmation that the GT3’s PDK couldn’t find universal favor. Beyond that, there is a reduced slip differential, Porsche’s torque-vectoring system, and the firm’s active transmission mounts.
The front side suspension system is basically stolen out from the GT3…
…with the two cars sharing hub carriers, shim-adjustable control arms, and the same steering rack.
The rear suspension system is equally beefed-up, with ball-jointed links and “helper springs” to pre-tension the main springs.
The Porsche Cayman GT4 lies on the track using the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, and the aerodynamic kit that changes the regular Cayman’s pop-up spoiler with a carbon reinforced polymer wing that seems like it can shave a whale and develops actual downforce.
The GT4 is a parts-bin special at heart, but what a bin.
2. Harder Edge
Porsche has taken us to Portugal to test the GT4, and was very keen for us to enjoy the car (along with the aggressive tires) in hot, dry conditions.
Porsche had also reserved exclusive use of the very impressive, Autódromo Internacional Algarve in Portimão.
Just before that:
there was a chance to test the ultra-Cayman on some of the turning inland roadways that provide the Algarve area a lot of its touristic charisma, but also a worrying percentage of its accident statistics.
The 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 starts off performing a great impression of the 991 GT3:
and considering the price difference between the two cars (the GT3 begins at $131,395), this is a great thing.
Yes, the mid-engine Cayman’s mass sits much farther forward than that of the 911, but at road speeds it generates so much mechanical grip that you don’t feel much difference over the truth that the GT4 is smaller and lighter…
…making it smoother to place on the tight-fitting roads and giving it a greater passion for obeying directional inputs.
The steering seems to be pretty much the same to the GT3’s—not too heavy, with a solid caster feel and offering far more information than Porsche permits to pass through the electrical assistance of its standard cars.
One true fact:
the engine is a small disappointment.
And we stress slight—the GT4 drags harder than any other Cayman, sounds great while doing so, and provides the kind of perfectly proportional throttle reaction that vindicates the choice to face against the turbocharge-everything orthodoxy that’s sweeping the industry.
But although it has plenty of midrange punch, it cannot come very close to matching the GT3’s enthusiasm for revs.
The Cayman’s fuel cut comes at 7800 RPM— stunning by modern standards, but pretty much in the same way where the GT3’s engine starts to show its best work.
The pleasing shifting manual gearbox provides lots of compensation. The technology team appreciates it’s not quite as quick as the PDK would have been, but we can say that it is about 400 percent more involving, even though —as in all Porsches—the gearing is still quite tall (second runs out at 81 mph).
The sport mode also gives a rev-matching feature if you’re not willing or able to do your own heel-and-toe downshifts.
The rest of the Porsche Cayman GT4 is much, much harder edged than even the Cayman GTS.
The car we tested had an optional fixed-back carbon-fiber bucketful seats…
…which might most likely begin to bite tough after a pair of hours behind the wheel, and the suspension system never feels something other than very firm (even with the replaceable dampers in their default, softer setting).
The upside is powerful body control even over damaged track surfaces. And to be honest—if you’re seeking for ride comfort, this perhaps is not the right car for you.
3. 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 Is Not Like a Pendulum
The Cayman’s steering is incredibly precise, resisting to understeer near total.
Even Portimão’s extended straights do not make the car feel in any way sluggish, and also the gearbox appears to function even better under the boosted pressure of track use.
We tested cars equipped with both steel and the optional carbon-ceramic brakes, with the neither system showing any signs of wilting under the sort of use that would boil the brake fluid in most sports cars.
However, the increasing loads of track use, has also exposed another side to the GT4’s character:
it begins to feel mid-engined, in the similar way you just truly understand just how much mass the GT3 stocks behind under really hard driving.
The 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 turns in more keenly than the 911, and seems more stable under tough stopping, however, it lacks the corner-exiting traction its big-assed sister can produce.
It is a less challenging car to drive hard, but it’s not less of a car for it.
Even in very tight proximity to its limits, the GT4 stays predictable and even fun; we avoided the official guide to leave the stability control turned on and noticed that the Cayman is greatly unscary even with it fully defeated.
Grip ends progressively and slides are easily corrected or extended, according to individual preference.
It’s attractive to view the GT4 as a little brother, yet in plenty ways it’s not. Its formal Nürburgring Nordschleife time is 7:40, a respectful 15 seconds behind the 991 GT3’s.
Although, Porsche informed us at thee car’s launch that the 911 GT3’s active rear steering and PDK gearbox (neither of which is present here) combined shaved more than 15 seconds off of its ’Ring time, meaning the Porsche Cayman GT4 is closer than you’d think.
The biggest enigma is why Porsche’s GT division…
…which has long proven able to sell every car it produces and which has very limited production capacity—should have attended the effort to build something cheaper rather than one of the recognizable 911 alternatives, which will have lines forming around the block.
The response, naturally, is the fact that 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 is a gateway drug, designed to establish a completely new generation of potential lovers to one of the most valuable, and exciting, automotive addictions there is.