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Review of the 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4: Blasphemous Glory!

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On: Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 8:58PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Review of the 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4:  Blasphemous Glory!

There are few cars that have the history and following of the Porsche 911. It has a heritage has that sparked debates, fights, and countless races on the street and the track for over half a century. But in their most private moments, and only to themselves, even the most die-hard Porschephile will admit that their beloved 911 is, in fact, incredibly flawed. Blasphemy, you say? Hardly. Even Porsche itself has acknowledged that the 911's overwhelmingly rearward weight bias has been something they have been trying to overcome for several generations.

In 1996 Porsche introduced the Boxster, a sporty two-seat roadster designed to help Porsche improve their stagnant model lineup, and the first true roadster by Porsche since the legendary 550 Spyder. Ten years later, the Cayman was introduced. The Cayman was the first original coupe built by Porsche since the 911 more than forty years prior. And while the Boxster served to help Porsche become a more well-rounded company, the Cayman, while awesome in its own right, started to pose a unique problem for the German giant. While engineers were battling weight distribution problems in the antiquated 911, the Cayman came into this world with a very driver-friendly 46/54 front/rear weight distribution, and incredible driving capabilities, thanks, in no small part, to its mid-engine placement. But Porsche, not wanting to upset historians and purists, kept the Cayman's power potential down around Boxster levels, which made it fun, but, in terms of ultimate speed, it still bowed to the mighty 911. But the question always remained… What if the perfectly balanced Cayman had the heart of a 911? Well, wonder no more …

For 2017, Porsche has finally decided to answer that question. Whether it was the constant beckoning of evolutionist Porsche drivers who wanted the next big thing, or maybe it was Porsche themselves wanting to see just what their creation was truly capable of; whatever the reason, it was a good one. The Cayman GT4 has arrived, and it might just be the beginning of the best line of Porsches the world has ever seen.

Starting with an already stable foundation, the Cayman GT4 gets modified with parts from the 911 GT3 bin. The electric-assist steering, and the 15-inch iron rotor brakes, and the optional (and ridiculous) 16.1-inch front/15.4-inch rear carbon ceramic brakes are hand-me-downs, as are the adaptive front dampers, which have been slightly retuned to work with the GT4. In fact, most of the front suspension is sourced from the GT3, including shim-adjustable control arms, steering rack, and hub carriers. The biggest addition, though, is actually donated from the 911 Carrera S: A 3.8-liter, all-aluminum flat-six with direct fuel injection that produces a very exciting 385 horsepower at 7,400 rpm and 310 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. That number represents a gain of 45 ponies over Cayman GTS. Much like the PDK-only option in the GT3, the Cayman offers owners any transmission they want, so long as they want a six-speed manual. The transmission is from the Cayman GTS, but has an upgraded clutch and lightweight dual-mass flywheel to help keep up with the higher-revving, more powerful motor.

Other bits that make the GT4 stand out from the crowd are the aerodynamic kit, which ditches the old signature pop-up spoiler in favor of a carbon-reinforced polymer wing that would instill spoiler-envy in any enthusiast's car this side of a 2000 Cobra R. But unlike those giant Civic spoilers of the late 90s and early 2000s, this wing actually helps the GT4 generate real downforce at speed. Other improvements over the base Cayman include a serious upgrade at the wheels. 20-inch forged aluminum wheels are shod in sticky 245/35/20 front/295/30/20 rear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, which may be the best track-ready rubber on the market today for a production car.

The Cayman GT4 was created to be a track-ready weapon, and executes its mission with the precision of a samurai katana. With only 3000 perfectly balanced pounds to haul around, this Porsche dances around the track with alacrity. In terms of pure acceleration, the GT4 puts any and every other Cayman to shame. 0–60 mph comes up in a scant 3.8 seconds, 100 mph in only 8.5 seconds, and through the quarter mile in 12.3 seconds @ 116 mph, on its way up to a top speed of 183 mph. It pulls a 1.01 g around the skidpad and brakes from 60–0 in about 100 feet flat. Those numbers should make just about any car this side of a Corvette ZO6 think twice before counting out the Cayman in any race. In terms of performance at the pump, the GT4 posts a modest 18/23 city/highway MPG, which is okay for what is essentially a track-ready street car. Of course, Porsche doesn't mention anything about track MPG, but if you have to ask…

Keen eyes will spot that horsepower figure of 385 is actually about 15 Clydesdales shy of the car it comes from originally. The Carrera S uses the same motor and yet is rated at 400 horsepower. Why the discrepancy? Well, if you ask Porsche, it is because it was no easy feat shoe-horning the 3.8-liter flat-six into the Cayman's mid-engine layout. They had to rotate the engine 180 degrees so it could sit on the other side of the axle, which allegedly caused a slight restriction to air intake. That restriction cost the Cayman GT4 the fifteen ponies it gives up to the Carrera S. But, if you ask us (off the record, of course), what we think is that the lower rating is Porsche's way of giving a slight nod to its venerable 911, saying basically, "Don't worry, big guy, you're still top dog." But, now that Porsche has broken the seal on their biggest no-no, how long will it be before we see a 911 turbo motor stuffed into a Cayman body?

Inside, the GT4 gives the driver enough to be comfortable, but not so much that they forget they are driving a true track-ready car. A 4.6-inch color screen displays information, entertainment options, and even performance data analysis via the GPS-enabled Porsche Track Precision app. While optional carbon-fiber reinforced plastic seats offer comfortable leather backed with high strength support and lower weight to help keep track times to a minimum. The cockpit is driver-centric, and enhanced with colored stitching and the occasional "GT4" badge here and there to remind you, just in case you forgot, what kind of car you were piloting.

One of the most impressive numbers attached to the new GT4 is its price tag. While a base price of $85,595 isn't exactly cheap for most people's bank accounts, when you compare it to a car like the one it gets most of its part from—the GT3, which stickers at $131,295—suddenly the GT4 starts to look like a very good deal. And when you think of where the GT4 might end up in the history of the Porsche lineage, price becomes less and less important. The GT4 might just be the turning point in Porsche history that begins what could be, the most impressive performing cars the German automaker has ever built. So what exactly is the price of glory, even if it is considered blasphemy at first?

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