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Porsche Cayman GT4

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LIVING BEYOND THE EDGE

Close your eyes and think of the best car you have ever driven. If you do not see a 718 Cayman GT4 in your mind’s eye, best you make a date for a test drive at your nearest Porsche dealership.

There’s a lot to be said for the meditative quality of a long drive on a good road by yourself, but sharing this experience is always better.

Especially when the car is the Porsche Cayman GT4, arguably the finest expression of the 718 Cayman line-up, nevermind that it is also the quickest in a straight line, and the most agile in the bends.

With its massive fixed rear wing and lightweight components, the GT4 looks astoundingly aggressive – like it wants to tear you limb from limb at every opportunity. Yet, what Porsche has managed to achieve with the new GT4 over the previous generation car, is that the coupe’s everyday driver characteristics have greatly improved, giving up nothing in the way of driving satisfaction.

RAW POWER

The new GT4’s 4.0-litre flat-six engine is shared with the 718 Spyder, as well as the Boxster and Cayman GTS models. It is not, however, the same 4.0-litre engine from the 911 GT3. Wouldn’t that have been something?

The good news, however, is that the new 4.0-litre has both a stop/start function and cylinder deactivation, to improve efficiency – a bit of a misnomer for a car that was created for driving hard. The not-so-great news is that this 4.0-litre doesn’t sound quite as good as the 3.8-litre mill from the 2016 GT4. Be that as it may, it remains a fire-breathing engine that will set your pants on fire (figuratively speaking, of course) if you’re not careful.

As tame as the GT4 wants to be as a daily driver – with 309 kW on tap in a car that weighs barely 1,750 kg – it can be equally brutal when given stick, although, the manual car’s 4.4-second acceleration time from standstill to 100 km/h will not cause too much spinal stress (we’re eagerly awaiting the Porsche Doppeltkupplungsgetriebe version for that). Still, besides acceleration times, the GT4 comes into its own when it is thrown into a corner.

EXEMPLARY CONTROL

Porsche Cayman GT4

Both the Cayman GT4 and its 718 Spyder sibling share a front axle with the 991.2 GT3, widely considered one of the best handling sports cars. It also boasts a unique rear axle, stiffer chassis, and lower ride height than its model siblings. The fixed rear wing has a different shape over the previous GT4, while the rear diffuser houses a new exhaust system.

All told, the new GT4 raises the already brilliant 718 platform to new heights, improving not only straight-line speed, but also cornering ability.

The only thing that could possible improve on the formula would be the recently confirmed availability of Porsche’s brilliant dual-clutch PDK system. Perhaps to my disadvantage, I have become so accustomed to South African-specced Porsches being available with the PDK system as standard, that the experience of driving a manual shifting GT4 was almost bizarre. The last time I had piloted any hand-wrung Porsche was at the launch of the previous-generation Boxster/Cayman in Germany in 2014, and to my mind, at least, I preferred the precision of the PDK ‘box. A technically brilliant machine such as the GT4 deserves the quick-thinking hardware that PDK brings to the party.

For this reason, the manual GT4’s lighting-reflexes became almost uncomfortable when hustling through more spirited corners, and what should have been an exercise in driving precision, with an instant bond being created between car and driver, sometimes descended into a manual gear frenzy. While I wouldn’t describe this as detrimental to my experience of the car – the GT4 sets a tremendously high benchmark for the Porsche brand – I would personally choose the safety, and meticulousness of the world’s best dual-clutch system.

ALL CLASS INTERIOR

Porsche Cayman GT4

For a near-R1.8 million car, the interior doesn’t offer much in the way of advanced technology, but it does provide a classy Alcantara suede-covered cocoon that is worthy of the Porsche name.
The bucket seats are the highlight of the show, and allow a perfect balance between comfort and purpose.

A 7” touchscreen runs the older version of Porsche’s Communication Management software with Apple CarPlay included. There aren’t any advanced driver-assistance systems to speak of, either, but that certainly is not why anyone buys a GT4.

LAST WORD

Porsche Cayman GT4

Anyone who covets a GT4 does so for one reason only – pure driving enjoyment – and the new GT4 delivers that in spades. There are cheaper alternatives, and more expensive ones, but none will deliver the magic of the GT4. At least, probably not for some time to come.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © PORSCHE AG

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