Scintillating chassis, surprisingly liveable
It doesn't sound as good as before
What is it?
What we have here is a second coming. The original Cayman GT4 launched in 2015 to unanimous, unfaltering praise - and one of the wildest waiting list scraps in modern performance cars. Porsche had finally allowed its littlest car to fulfil potential previously stymied by the 911’s place in the market. Well, so the conspiracy theorists would have it.
The result was mesmeric, a car that – while still quick, grippy and supremely capable – had put fun and involvement higher up its priority list than lap times and G numbers. You could only have a manual gearbox, power was sub-400bhp and all the neat little touches of Porsche’s motorsport products (straps of fabric in place of interior door handles, optional cage and fire extinguisher) were present and correct. On the road, the latter could feel pretty frivolous. Doesn’t mean we loved them any less.
Unenviable shoes for the new GT4 to fill, then, but it now sits in an entirely different range. Newly prefixed by '718' and powered in its lower specs by four-cylinder turbo engines, it’s fair to say the current-gen Cayman’s broken the hearts of Porsche fanboys and girls and shone an even brighter light on exciting new rivals like the Alpine A110 and Toyota Supra.
Despite also wearing 718 badges, the GT4 has avoided such controversy. It keeps a six-cylinder free of turbos and its peak power is saved for revs in the high sevens. It’s a new engine, a 4.0-litre that’s actually derived from the 3.0-litre turbo in 911s rather than parachuted down from GT3s. An odd route to reach a seemingly similar result, though its outputs sit somewhere between the old GT4 and contemporary GT3: they’re now 414bhp and 310lb ft, good for 0-62mph in 4.4secs and a 188mph top speed.
Those actually aren’t much better than either the previous GT4, or indeed other 718s, largely down to this being the heaviest car in its range. Yeah, those fabric door pulls really don’t do much. Extra weight may be surprising, but it’s come from supposedly good stuff. Just look at that new wing and diffuser setup. This thing means business, and delivers it: downforce is up 50 per cent on its predecessor.
Given the last GT4 sat in such a sweet spot, that does make us ponder if its successor’s suddenly gone too serious. The price is more serious, after all: up ten grand with its new £75,000 entry point. Our test car totalled £94,506, too, thanks to a plethora of options, some of which you might hope were fitted as standard. But hey, Porsche has never been particularly benevolent with equipment.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
This is a thoroughly easy car to lavish praise upon. Steering gets no sweeter, manual gearboxes no more satisfying and handling no more flattering. Whether you’re a beginner or expert at fast driving, this car will welcome you with open arms then encourage you to dig right to the core of your own abilities.
It brings a racecar vibe to the road without eroding the Cayman’s famed everyday usability. It’s an astonishing achievement. But then so was the first Cayman GT4, and there’s no escaping the sound and character that’s been lost as it's bent to meet ever-stringent emissions regulations. That’s not something we ought to be haranguing Porsche for, though; the fact it’s kept this car alive despite tougher new rules is to be admired. Much like the GT4 itself.