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Feels like a more mainstream car than the last, until you find the right road and discover it’s as special as ever.

Our Verdict

Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 2019 road test review - hero front

Porsche reprises arguably the finest driver's car of its generation with an all-new engine but the same purist philosophy

  • First Drive

    Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 UK review

    Feels like a more mainstream car than the last, until you find the right road and discover it’s as special as ever.

What is it?

It is a measure of the way the wizards of Weissach go about their work that this new GT4 is not the quickest Cayman on sale. Despite its new 4.0-litre engine, despite it being the first mid-engined Porsche to offer more than 400bhp (Carrera GT and 918 Spyder hypercars aside), if you look at the numbers you’ll discover that, thanks to offering more torque lower down and offering the option of a paddle-shift transmission, a humble GTS can be configured to be quicker to 62mph and no slower to 100mph. Criticised though they are, you can’t say those turbo motors are entirely without merit.

But a Porsche GT car has never been about the numbers, and this one is no different. The Motorsport department that makes these cars recognises ‘fast’ as a mere component of ‘fun’, and that speed comes in more than just straight lines. If they simply wanted this car to be quick, they could have easily wrung more power out of the 2.5 turbo four than offered by this normally aspirated 4-litre six, kept the PDK and saved a fortune in the process.

But no. Every Porsche to date to wear the GT badge has been flat six powered, this one would be no different and hang the expense. And it would only have manual gears (though we believe PDK will be made available), as well as GT3 front suspension like the last.

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Yet despite these modifications and the aero package offering half as much downforce again as the previous GT4 (but with no drag penalty), it’s very much business as usual inside. There’s some Alcantara and GT4 badging (plus optional carbon fibre race seats in the test car you need to sit in before choosing), but even when you twist the key and hear the flat six spark up it doesn’t feel like you’ve finally reached the promised land. You may be grateful there’s no four cylinder fart, but six-cylinder Caymans are nothing new and like them, this one does not threaten to rip your head off at the first blip.

What's it like?

Indeed despite offering over 100bhp per litre, it is reasonably quiet, flexible and civilised. There’s enough of an edge in its voice to suggest there’s a monster waiting to be unleashed, but that’s being saved for the 911 GT3 which will rev at least 1000rpm higher than this, all the way to 9000rpm, minimum.

In short, this is a very pleasant car in which to go about your daily business. All the usual refinements are here – air, cruise, digital radio and so on – and there are times you might even forget you’re in a GT car.

But not on a decent road. On the way, you might even fear that this car has lost its edge, that the promise of a 4-litre, flat-six Cayman – which to me sounds about as enticing as it gets – may not be entirely fulfilled. The car feels so, well, normal.

Have faith. It’s been a while since I’ve driven the old GT4, but I’d say some sense of occasion has perhaps been lost, that as a thing in which simply to stooge about this car feels less special than the last. You can look at the 80kg weight gain as a possible reason, but I think the car is simply set up to be more usable more of the time. Which is fine so long as when it matters, it delivers.

It delivers. Actually part of the joy of this car is the re-education process that comes with it. It’s amazing how rapidly the diet of paddle-shift turbos has become the norm, how quickly you forget how things always were, and how recently. You can’t just plant a hoof and expect it to take off: maximum torque doesn’t arrive until there’s 5000rpm on the clock. In a Cayman GTS that figure is 1900rpm. The car makes you work which means, of course, it gets you involved.

So drop a couple of gears, press the auto-blip button if you must (they should have hidden it behind the steering wheel so your mates will think the rev-perfect downshifts are your own doing), get the revs above the magic mark and let it go.

Now the engine is superb, a searing, soaring powerhouse that seems as surprised as you to hit its 8000rpm limiter. It feels like it would go forever or at least a lot farther and, in time and in 911s, I have no doubt it will. The gearbox can been criticised its ratios that are little different – if at all – from those in the last GT4 and still too long in all (bar top which is too short), but the shift quality is essentially faultless. Fast, fluid, mechanical in action with just enough heft… can I just say now how lovely it is to be talking about changing gear again in such a car?

But even a stick-shift, atmospherically inducted powertrain like this still plays a supporting role to the Cayman’s chassis. Grip levels on standard Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tyres are almost gratuitous – in fact I’d like to see a harder, skiddier option available – the steering unsurpassed among other electrically assisted systems. Together they allow the car to flow along the most difficult roads with breathtaking precision and ease. On the limit it’s probably the best behaved mid-engined car I’ve driven, trumping even the Alpine A110 because it has a gentle limited slip differential providing little additional understeer on the way into a corner and as much oversteer at the exit and you could want. In fact the back moves quite fast as you’d expect, but it’s so linear it’s easily caught.

Should I buy one?

The Cayman GT4, then, is a near pitch-perfect introduction to the world of the Porsche GT. For you it’s fast, fun and almost absurdly accessible. For Porsche, however good it is, it’s a car that’s likely to leave the owner wanting more, and more determined than ever to work harder for longer until he or she can graduate to the top table where GT3s dine in their increasingly varied forms. Job done all round, I’d say. 

Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 specification

Price £130,500 Engine 6 cyls, 3995cc, normally aspirated Power 414bhp at 7600rpm Torque 310lb ft at 5000rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1420kg 0-62mph 4.4sec Top speed 189mph Economy 25.7mpg (WLTP) CO2 251g/km (WLTP) Rivals Lotus Evora GT410 Sport, Alpine A110S

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Comments
16

29 July 2019

I may have missed it but I'm sure there's no price anywhere in the review.

Love it, naturally aspirated, using the rev range rather than riding a wave of torque, something I always enjoy, though I never have had the pleasure of driving one of these. 

I don't have an issue with the 4 pots in the Cayman and boxter (have never driven either so have no real experience of them) but would love the idea of them being available as na along with the turbo, much like the previous 4 pot Porsches were.

 

29 July 2019
si73 wrote:

I may have missed it but I'm sure there's no price anywhere in the review.

Love it, naturally aspirated, using the rev range rather than riding a wave of torque, something I always enjoy, though I never have had the pleasure of driving one of these. 

I don't have an issue with the 4 pots in the Cayman and boxter (have never driven either so have no real experience of them) but would love the idea of them being available as na along with the turbo, much like the previous 4 pot Porsches were.

 

 

Have you heard the one that goes...if you have to ask.........

29 July 2019

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29 July 2019

I am amazed it takes 4.4 sec to reach 100kph 4.0 litre! 413 bhp! and weighing just 1420kg! I'd have though 3.8/9 sec. 

Si73 Good spot, no price...

Just Saying

29 July 2019

 This from certain angles looks like a 911, what os Porsche doing?!

Peter Cavellini.

29 July 2019

Have owned the gen 1 GT4 now for 3+ years, it being delivered in April 2016. Pro's; unrivalled driving experience as a daily driver given its ease of operation and lack of 'bulk'. Not to powerful to prevent 'pedal to the metal' moments. Other motorists don't treat you like your a 'wanker' . Relatively 'affordable' to service, great for occasional track days, depreciates slowly. Cons; GTS is as fast on street, 90K is a lot for a Cayman, long gearing is uneccesary (stops it out accelerating 911), cry's out for 40bhp more. This gen 2 has much the same problems as the gen 1. Here in the USA a top drawer used gen 1 can be bought for $90k, a gen 2 is going to cost circa $112k. My advice, buy the gen 1. On the road its all and more than you will ever want in a daily driver.

30 July 2019

I know Porsche options are expensive but I am inclined to think the price shown (£130,000) is a misprint.  I would rather have this or the Alpine than a 2000hp Lotus EV or whatever form the Tesla roadster eventually takes, if it ever makes it to existence.

30 July 2019

Just checked and without options this car costs £75,348. The worrying thing is what other facts are wrong, if the publication can't get even the most basic thing right. And while we're on the subject of facts, why not simply quote the manufacturer's 420PS engine output. It really is a nonsense converting to bhp and just another potential source of error. 

30 July 2019

Then again, theere is no edit facility...

30 July 2019

I really see this as the ultimate Posche sports car, well ahead of the more expensive 911.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

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