They’ve finally done it, then. After years of holding back the full potential of the Cayman, and tacitly admitting as much, Porsche’s management team have finally given the company’s engineers the nod to let the mid-engined sports car be all it can be.
At 380bhp, the GT4 is 35bhp more powerful than a ‘base’ 911 Carrera, hitherto territory that a Cayman has been disallowed to chart, in case it sailed across the path of Porsche’s larger, rear-engined car.
For more than half a century, Porsche has so carefully managed the physics of a car with an engine behind its rear axle that it has remained the finest sports car in production.For the past decade, meanwhile, it has carefully managed the output of the inherently better balanced Cayman, so that it doesn’t pinch sales from its larger, more profitable brother.
But this moment has, slowly, been coming. The 2011 Cayman R was the first Cayman to get a better power-to-weight ratio and torque-to-weight ratio than a 911. It was brilliant – so brilliant that we named it Britain’s Best Driver’s Car that year.
Even so, the R was more Cayman ‘Plus’ than Cayman ‘GT3’ in character – enhanced Cayman road car rather than cut-price, stripped-out racer. The only way you’d have been disappointed with that was if you expected it to be like one of Porsche’s motorsport-derived cars instead.
I wonder, though, whether ultimately that made the R more likely to trouble the minds of those who were wondering whether they’d like to buy a Porsche with the engine in the back or the middle. Yes, they were different, but both made fine everyday sports/GT cars.
I imagine there will be no such concerns this time around. If you’re thinking about buying a 911 Carrera, the fact that there is a more powerful Cayman out there for less money is less likely to be factor when the Cayman in question sits 30mm lower than standard, on 911 GT3 suspension, and has bucket seats from the 918 Spyder hypercar.
It should be, in other words, extremely raw, and not like an entry-level 911 at all. This 991-generation Carrera has been nudged a little more towards the grand touring spectrum than ever, and my suspicion is that the GT4 will therefore not affect 911 Carrera sales one iota.
The only question now is whether the GT4 is good enough to alter the course of the 911 GT3. Or, more pertinent, given that the GT3 can only be had with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox and the GT4 is manual only, whether it already has.
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