Porsche produce some of the best driver’s cars in the world, and notably for the trackday enthusiast they have their hallowed GT range.
A GT Porsche is built by a special team, to specific specifications. Lightweight, normally aspirated (for the most part), high output engines and track tuned chassis.
The first of the recent GT cars was the 996 generation 911, from the early 2000s, and the recipe dramatically moved on the capabilities of the 911 chassis culminating in today’s 992 generation GT3, which boasts around 500bhp, double wishbones up front and fully adjustable suspension. Not to mention eye watering Nurburgring track times.
A Porsche GT car is the yard stick for all other high performance vehicles, and even supercars. GT was also always exclusively 911. At the same time as the first gen GT (996), Porsche was also launching their new mid-engine platform, the soft-top Boxster and tin top Cayman. They were an immediate sales success for Porsche but the ‘Cayster’ platform didn’t receive the chassis or engine upgrades close to that of its 911 sibling.
The Cayman R was as close as it got; Porsche clearly concerned that the mid-engine platform was so good that GT status might hurt sales of the 911 based GT3. Customers dreamt and lobbied for a Cayman based GT car with a proper full-fat 911 motor. Finally, in 2015, their prayers were answered.
This is the Porsche Cayman GT4, based on the 981 second generation of the Cayman platform. It was fairly late in the platform’s development cycle, with the 981 being about since 2012. Porsche’s GT department lifted the flat six, 380bhp engine from the latest 991 generation Carerra S, along with its manual gearbox and immediately bestowed the lighter Cayman with serious performance.
The front end suspension was borrowed from the 991 generation GT3, with a bespoke ball joined back end developed especially for the GT4. Packaging this all into the car meant a wider track at the rear and so it required larger wings and rear quarters giving the Cayman a wide and imposing aesthetic, a world away from the standard car.
Inside and the full range of GT options were available to the new car. Our car pictured here is a Clubsport model, fitted with half roll cage, fire extinguisher and six point driver seat harnesses from the factory. Other GT options include fixed back carbon LWB seats, derived from the 918 Supercar, and PDLS, Porsche’s dynamic lighting system that points the light depending on your steering input.
On the road, the GT4 is sublime. It runs on road-legal, track-spec Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres on 20″ platinum alloy wheels, and although there is some tyre roar the car rides surprisingly well on Northern Ireland’s back roads. Power is progressive and strong, pulling hard to the almost 8000 rpm red line. The gearbox is an absolute peach, with one of the best shift actions in the business; it’s only a hand span from the alcantara trimmed steering wheel.
The chassis is superbly stable and being mid-engined also gives a wonderful feeling of balance. The GT department have done a stunning job of combining driving dynamics, performance, steering and driver control into one perfect package.
The flat six howls as it approaches the red line, the 981 being pre-particulate filter that Porsche have been forced to fit to the later 718 GT4, strangling the exhaust note in the process. Second gear is long, just passing 80mph at the limiter, but in reality the spread of torque is so wide it sounds worse on paper than in reality.
Speaking of the later generation car, the 718 GT4, it comes with an all new 4.0, 420bhp engine, and unlike the 981 on test is also available with a PDK auto. The first generation GT4 as tested was only made in 2015 and 2016, with about 500 on the road today in the UK, with currently similar numbers of the 718 GT4, although it has been in continual production since 2019.
Getting your hands on a Porsche GT car of any description is probably the only single downside. With such low build numbers, residuals are extraordinarily high. At time of writing, the 981 which was £65k new, are generally in the £70-80k bracket on the used market. The 718, 4.0 car ranges from £85-100k on the used market, starting at £75k before you prod the extensive Porsche options list.
Thinking of buying new? This is where the mind boggles. Cars are generally snapped up by serial Porsche customers months or years before release, with priority given to loyal Porsche Centre customers first and foremost, with almost zero chance of a walk-in customer being able to order a new one with such low allocations available.
If you want the pinnacle of the drivers car for the road, the GT4 has to be it. You just need deep pockets, patience and perseverance to get one.
Words and Photos: GRAHAM BAALHAM-CURRY
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