|2015 Porsche Cayman GT4|
The normal Cayman - despite its slightly less feelsome electric power steering - has received universal praise and, by all accounts, seems to be pretty much perfect in every way as a two-seat sports car. How have Porsche Motorsport gone about making it into something... more?
Since the new 911 (991) GT3 was unveiled with rear-steer but without a manual gearbox, the internet has been trying to inflict vernichtungsschmerz upon Porsche for this heinous crime against old-school purity. It seems that some of the internet - astonishingly - even accounts for a portion of the GT3's customer base. In a 20-minute show-and-tell video evo did with Porsche Motorsport's head of road cars Andreas Preuninger (see below), he says that there has been a cry for a manual gearbox from those who bought GT3s not to decimate all others against the clock at a track day, but to revel in the exhilarating chassis balance and power delivery, and engage right back with the car, partially by changing gear themselves.
"Since the 991 GT3 came out there was a lot of clientele that wanted to shift manually, to get involved. They don’t care too much about the last tenth. We listened to them,’ begins Preuninger when explaining why the Cayman GT4 goes back to basics with a 6-speed manual ‘box. It’s about emotion, about being involved and having a car that talks to you and this is what we’ve combined with a very, very competent track capable car."
The video is below, but if you haven't got 20 minutes to learn everything about this hotly-anticipated sports car, then I'll throw some highlights and headline figures at you:
• The 3.4-litre flat-six from the Cayman S/GTS has been replaced with a modified version of the 911 Carrera S's 3.8-litre engine, in a move Preuninger calls "old-school hotrodding". The more aggressive motor revs to 7800rpm and produces 385bhp at 7400rpm, with peak torque being 310lb/ft at 4750-6000rpm. This being a Porsche, though, those figures are a minimum. I wouldn't be surprised if it was closer to 400 horsepower in very good weather conditions. Things are kept smooth by standard-fit "Porsche Dynamic Engine Mounts."
• In gloriously stark contrast to the GT3, this car is manual only, complete with a mechanical limited-slip differential (LSD) with advanced torque vectoring. Apparently this is because the Motorsport division is a little one and can't be doing too much at once. A second gearbox requires different calibrations in a lot of areas and a second line of production for that segment. This is the reason we generally see fewer and fewer manual gearboxes as overall demand dwindles, so to see them justify exactly the opposite decision with this reasoning is deeply pleasing.
(However, significant demand would bring about a PDK option later. So there's that)
• The 6-speed gearbox has the same slightly shorter ratios as the GTS, but there is still a small suspicion that it could be geared shorter still without the 911 to worry about. Mind you, 0-60 in 4.4 seconds and a 183mph v-max ought to be fast enough for most. So will a Nürburgring lap time of somewhere around 7:40, level with the previous-generation "997" GT3...
• The weight is 1340kg, about the same as the GTS, but that's despite carbon fibre aero parts and a lighter construction method for the aluminium/steel chassis. What weight they've taken out has been put back on again by the meaty suspension and brake systems, which are essentially taken wholesale from the 911 GT3. In terms of the brakes, that includes both the 380mm steel discs and the optional 410mm carbon ceramic versions as well. Other GT3 carry-overs include the steering system, although it's worth pointing out that everything has been calibrated and in places tweaked a bit to fit and suit the Cayman GT4. The electric steering in particular has new software that apparently gives it better feel and feedback than the GT3. Reviews will tell us...
• The suitably unsubtle aero kit not only reduces lift to zero, but generates the same 100kg of downforce at over 180mph as the 911 GT3. The wheels, despite looking similar, aren't from a GT3 and aren't centre-lock wheels either. The 20" forged alloys are shod in 245-section Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres at the front, with 295-section tyres at the rear.
• Unlike the GT3, which has been a benchmark and/or target for other car manufacturers for at least a decade now, the GT4 doesn't have any perceived rivals, so while it's a highly competent track car - as any of the Motorsport division's products are - they have the freedom to concentrate on making it a fun and engaging driving experience, rather than chasing ultimate numbers like they have to with the GT3 to stay on top of the proverbial hill. Good!
• In the UK, it costs a surprisingly low £64,451 before you load it up with optional extras. In the USA it's around $85,000 and in Germany the price starts at €85,779 including taxes. The Clubsport Package costs £2670 and adds the rear half of a roll cage (a full cage isn't road legal these days) among other track-serious bits. Considering it's got the engine from an £85k Carrera and chassis components from a £100k GT3, £65k is a downright bargain. Perfect!
OK, here's the video if you need more details about all that and quite a lot more:
If the weight was under 1300kg, I would consider this car perfect. The Cayman S and GTS* are already considered the best all-around sports car currently on sale in the world. In the UK you never really need more than 300-350 horsepower unless you're at Silverstone or an airfield, so 380bhp is plenty to have fun with on a B-road, even if it has sticky tyres and downforce you you to overcome. The large wing might put some people off, but it's their loss. This car is smaller, better balanced and probably more agile than a 911 Carrera, as well as 90kg lighter than a GT3. It's got a revvy, shouty six-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine, six manual gears, a mechanical LSD driving the rear wheels only and it looks awesome, like it wants to snap at the heels of much pricier track day toys. Plus it still has two decent luggage compartments! If I already had a comfy and sensible commuter, or didn't need to worry about any of that, this would be in my garage the very nanosecond that I had the money for one...... which will probably be never. Small wonder I daydream so much.
*Despite the similar name, GTS models aren't Porsche Motorsport products, only cars with 'GT' followed by a number, along with RS models and of course racing cars like the 911 RSR and 919 Hybrid LMP1 car. You're not a bad person if you didn't already know that, don't worry.
This article has been written for SmallBlog V8. Do not claim it as your own. It is not. I've had a blog taken down for that before...
Photos by Porsche