Porsche Cayman GT4: Track-worthy hardware

By JAY WONG | 10 March 2016

Porsche's latest Cayman GT4 is a compact two-seater coupe with a large GT-wing at the rear, gaping front air intakes, side-blades to ram air into the mid-mounted engine’s intake and large cross-drilled disc brakes – all of which add up to a sports car seemingly more bred for the track than for the streets.

We find ourselves at the Sepang International Circuit getting ready to have a go in this visually captivating Porsche that has come into existence after having borrowed from the parts-bin of the company’s favoured 911 family – the Carrera S, GT3 and even the 918 Spyder.

Porsche Cayman GT4 at SIC - 08
It’s been dressed in Racing Yellow for this particular track day and might we say it’s a real stunner.
The GT-wing, made of carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP), is prominent at the rear and with the capability of lapping the infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes and 40 seconds; it was hard to hold back the enthusiasm.

Priced from RM840,000, the Cayman GT4 uses the same engine found in the Carrera S, only its 3.8-litre naturally aspirated flat-six engine that’s been turned 180 degrees just to accommodate the exhaust and fuel feed and then mated to a six-speed manual transmission for some three-pedal fun.

The throaty engine feels free and willing to rev up towards its 7,800rpm redline, ever wanting to unleash all its 385hp at 7,400rpm and 420Nm of torque from 4,750 to 6,000rpm that’s sent to the rear wheels to help it reach 100kph from standstill in 4.4 seconds before topping out at 295kph.

Porsche Cayman GT4 at SIC - 44
The Cayman GT4 on track came with the optional analogue-digital timer that’s part of the Sport Chrono Package and a rollover protection cage at the rear of the cabin from the Club Sport Package.

Furthermore, the seats have been upgraded to the one-piece (fixed-back) bucket seats with exposed carbon weave finish adopted from the 918 Spyder and upholstered in black leather and Alcantara centre – allowing the matching body colour stitches and GT4 logo to stand out.

To heighten the fun, it also came with a set of optional cross-drilled Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) 410mm-front and 390mm-rear and matched with yellow aluminium six-pot (front) and four pot (rear) callipers – which is the same upgrade set up used in the 911 GT3.

Porsche Cayman GT4 at SIC - 68
It would be a slow and calm drive down to the end of the pit lane where we’d come to a complete stop and ensure that the engine, suspension and exhaust were set to Sport mode.

A quick thumbs-up from the “gate-keeper” and it would be a full-throttle experience down the straight towards turn one and two as we revelled in the engine’s sonorous notes.

The stiff bucket seats not only kept us properly in place, but also allowed us to tell how much the car was yawing via our posterior.

In short, there’s plenty of information reaching the driver from the get go, from each of the wheels’ traction to how the car’s 1,340kg of unladen heft transfers from aft to fore under heavy braking, abrupt accelerations and heading into corners.

Porsche Cayman GT4 at SIC - 07
In essence, the car simply keeps the driver connected to how it reacts to driver inputs over a given road surface.

And to help manage the tyres, the car was also installed with an optional tyre pressure monitoring system that shows (in real-time) the pounds per square inch (PSI) for each tyre.

We found that even with the track’s surface temperature approaching the 50-degree Celsius mark, the 245/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres on 20-inch wheels didn’t lose too much of its performance.

Porsche Cayman GT4 at SIC - 12
Porsche Cayman GT4 (left) overtaking a 911

Under hard braking, there’s never a slippery situation – even with Monsieur Bibendum (Michelin Man) probably at its melting point.

While still on our hot laps, the car’s electronic driving aids were still engaged and lacked any form of intrusion, but still allowed for some tyre slippage to occur that was just enough for a good level of driver engagement.

As for old-school track goers who revel in the use of all three-pedals and take pride in their skills of left-foot braking and heel-and-toe techniques, the Cayman GT4 simplifies everything to help maximise attention on driving the car and shifting the gears instead of worrying about the “foot-work” all the time.

Porsche Cayman GT4 at SIC - 56
The transmission is a wonderful short-shifting six-speed manual that provides a crisp engagement into each of the six gates that’s coupled with a lighter than expected clutch and downshifts are being greeted with an automatic blip of the throttle (only in Sport Mode).

The Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) system, which uses a mechanical differential lock, coupled with the never-wants-to-fade PCCB brakes ensures that the front and rear are kept very well in check.

At times we may lock one of the front wheels momentarily, but the anti-lock braking system is quick to release it and ensure optimal braking is provided without destabilising the car all too much.

Porsche Cayman GT4 at SIC - 32
It’s this experience that gives rise to higher confidence levels that allow drivers to feel the car’s connection to the road surfaces even more. The beauty about the Cayman GT4 is that it simply dislikes being unstable and when mistakes happen it thankfully doesn’t “bite the hand that feeds it”.

Upon exiting a left corner, we admit that we were a little overzealous and gunned the throttle a little early.

This caused the rear-end to step out, but thanks to Porsche’s Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control (ESC+TC), it was a gradual step that was quickly caught and mooted by a short and quick right flick of the nicely weighted electromechanical power steering.

Porsche Cayman GT4 at SIC - 24
At the end of the day, there was little indication that the Cayman GT4 was giving up.

Which means, so long as there’s still strength in the arms, plenty of tyres to go around and enough fuel to keep the high-compression (12.5:1) aluminium flat-six engine running, there really isn’t any good reason to stop... maybe just till dinner time.