Lord March’s driveway at Goodwood House is a lot of things. It’s narrow, shadowy, gently curving, hazardous in places – and more than a little overlooked on a Festival of Speed weekend. But above all else, a car like the Porsche Cayman GT4 makes it feel short. Very short. So short that you’re tempted to bribe a marshal, swing through a gate, and hoon off onto Sussex’s surrounding roads just to get your fill.
I felt very fortunate indeed to be driving what was simultaneously one of the cheapest and most-wanted cars in the Supercar Run. Aston Martin chassis guru Matt Becker was two cars ahead of me in a gorgeous GT12; Lamborghini test driver Max Venturi was a couple of places behind in an Aventador SV. Both blokes nodded approvingly when I pointed at the Speed Yellow Porsche, while others queued with camera phones in hand to get a closer look.
You learn little about any car in that famous mile-and-a-bit, and a fuller UK first drive will follow – once we’ve had the chance to drive a GT4 on British roads. What you can learn is that a GT4 isn’t a slightly cheaper, less powerful 911 GT3. It has three pedals and a manual gearlever, for a start – and they're typically magnificent to use.
You learn, too, that it has a snarling flat-six exhaust note about which the term 'subordinate' does not apply, with the exhaust in the right mode: loud. Always loud. There's enough performance to keep the wheels spinning for a good 30 yards off line, too - but not enough that you need more than fourth gear before braking for Molecomb corner. Which is good. Less is definitely more when it comes to entry speed at Molecomb, as the driver of a Mazda 767B discovered moments earlier.
There’s enough grip, too, to make short work of most of the fast bends on the hill, but not so much that the Cayman loses its remarkable playfulness or its handling adjustability. Enough dynamic talent and charm to keep you utterly captivated and entertained and not at all envious of the blokes in the more exotic machinery, in other words.
At the top of the hill, the GT4 attracted a similar gaggle of approving onlookers. One driver told me he used Caymans as training cars for aspiring sports car racers. “This one’s almost too good for that,” was my reply. Because if every young racing driver thinks his future company car is going to be as flattering and forgiving as a GT4, he’ll probably be in for a shock at his first race weekend.