In 2015, Porsche announced the car the supercar community thought they would never build.
It was the first time Porsche allowed its Porsche Motorsport division in Weissach to sprinkle some magic on a production Cayman since the mid-engine sports car’s introduction ten years previously.
They did not let us down.
With components sourced from the 911 GT3, an engine carried over from a Carrera S and a tweaked and tuned chassis, brakes and aerodynamics, Porsche’s engineers did their best to produce the perfect mid-engine sports car for road and track use.
The GT4’s 3.8-litre flat-six engine produces 385 hp (283 kW) and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox with dynamic gearbox mounts – these contain a magnetic fluid that can be manipulated by use of an electromagnetic field to harden or soften to compensate for movements in the gearbox when under load, which in soft settings can improve ride comfort, while harder settings optimize the handling of the Cayman for a more dynamic driving experience.
Compared with the standard Cayman, the GT4’s chassis was lowered by 30mm and bigger brakes were added, with many aspects of its suspension carried over from the 911 GT3. Make no mistake; this is some serious motorsport kit.
Design, Styling & Interior
Based on the 981 Cayman, the GT4 takes the standard car’s already purposeful stance and design and adds aggression.
The large, vented front bumper, which makes the GT4 look like a more serious track weapon is not just for show – it improves cooling for an additional radiator.
A lower ride height, lower front lip and a fixed rear wing are all clues to onlookers that this is no normal Cayman.
Larger side intakes than the standard Cayman also add to the GT4’s sporting proportions, required to feed more air into the 3.8 litre power plant behind the driver.
Inside the Cayman GT4, the sporty theme continues, with sport seats for driver and passenger upholstered in a combination of leather and Alcantara, with bolsters to support both under hard cornering.
In front of the driver sits a compact steering wheel, which Porsche says enhances the feedback to the driver, as well as providing more precision.
The Cayman GT4’s 3.8-litre engine takes the place of the GTS’s 3.4 litres, lifting power from 335hp to 385hp. Combined with a lot of effort from Porsche’s engineers to shed a few kilos from its kerb weight, and the GT4 is predictably a shade faster than the previous quickest Cayman.
The GT4 makes the dash from k 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds, significantly quicker than the 4.9sec of the GTS, while its top speed has risen by 6mph to 183mph.
More torque provided by the extra engine capacity afforded the GT4 is said to help the Cayman pull its long gearing more convincingly than previously.
Some criticized the GT4’s engine for lacking the drama and all-out ferocity of engine note that other Porsches featuring the 3.8-litre engine deliver, though unless you have access or a depth of experience with both of those cars, its 7800rpm redline is likely to still provide enough to satisfy.
The efforts of Porsche’s engineers have clearly paid off – a lap time of 7 minutes and 40 seconds on the North Loop of the Nürburgring clearly shows that this Porsche is serious about performance.
At launch, Porsche offered Cayman GT4 buyers the option of equipping their car with further options geared towards sporty or track use.
These options included a Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system, carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) shell seats, a custom Sport Chrono Package including a unique Track Precision app and a Club Sport Package, that added racing harnesses and fire extinguisher to the Cayman GT4’s track accouterments.
Ride & Handling
The standard Porsche Cayman’s handling has always been one of its ultimate selling points.
Unencumbered by an engine slung out the back like its bigger brother the 911, the Cayman’s mid-engine balance endows the “middle” child in the Porsche sports car family with precise and nimble handling.
Add to that mix the uprated front axle from a 911 GT3, an aerodynamic package designed to spread downforce across all four wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, perhaps the most surprising thing about the Cayman GT4 is its compliance on the road as well as its prowess on the track.
Such features are traditionally the preserve of track-specials and in many cases an extreme focus on track capability can compromise on-road comfort, making a car almost unbearable on regular road surfaces, or overly harsh on less-experienced drivers.
But the Cayman GT4 drew critical praise from those that drove it thanks to its strong grip through corners providing the driver with confidence backed up by the car’s communicative chassis.
Porsche’s Motorsport engineers have managed to strike an impressive balance between technical capability and on-road usability.
The Cayman GT4 is stiffer-sprung than the standard car without becoming punishing over less-than-perfect surfaces, with enough suspension travel and damping to soak up bumps and undulations in the road.
Prices & Specs
At its launch in July 2015, the Porsche Cayman GT4 retailed at $84,600 MSRP from Porsche dealers.
However just 2500 examples of the GT4 were made, and a performance Porsche of this ilk attracts a lot of attention from Porsche purists and driving fans alike, meaning demand far outstripped that production run from the start.
This led to many instantly being flipped for an asking price well in excess of the retail price.