Review: Porsche 718 Cayman GT4, a perfectly irrational middle finger to turbo+DCT sports cars
Jason · Jan 3, 2021 01:00 PM
The first-generation Porsche Cayman GT4 was one of my favourite cars of all time. In my eyes, it had all the makings of a great driver’s car. Mid-engined balance, Porsche Motorsport genes, and more than enough performance to trouble supercars a league above. More pertinently, 6-SPEED MANUAL. I’ve always wanted to drive one, but never got the chance to.
So imagine my elation when I was given the opportunity to have a go in the 2nd-generation, now called the 718 Cayman GT4. Same recipe as the original, but more of everything. 420PS, and 420 Nm of torque, 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds. Plus, a new 4-litre flat-six engine that has many revs (8,000 of it, to be precise).
Yet, all those figures mean nothing to me. You see, the 718 Cayman GT4 (let’s just call it the GT4, shall we?) is Porsche going against the grain. In a performance car market increasingly dominated by turbo engines and dual-clutch transmissions, Porsche has refreshingly given the GT4 a high-revving, naturally-aspirated engine, and a manual transmission. Perfectly irrational? You bet.
All that said, I was only given 6 laps of Sepang Circuit’s South loop. Time to get strapped in and go. Straight away, the warm embrace of feedback filters through, from the steering, the pedals to the achingly beautiful bucket seat. Porsche’s DNA can be felt everywhere.
Even in the more technical half of Sepang Circuit, the GT4 proved to be brilliant. There’s a balletic grace when threading it through the bends, a balance that only mid-engined cars seem to possess. You can feel what each tyre is up to, and up your ante accordingly. Special mention goes to the GT4's carbon ceramic brakes. They just took all the pounding I could mete out with minimal fuss.
The new 4.0-litre engine is everything you’d imagined it to be; musical, free-revving, responsive and muscular all at once. Never once was it found wanting when I put my foot down. You ask, it delivers, instantly. Everything you love about naturally-aspirated engines? All here.
The highlight though, has to be the manual shifter. One of motoring’s inexplicable joys is rowing your own gears, and in the GT4, it’s absolute purist nirvana. Shifts are slick, precise, well-spaced. I’ll happily change my own gears for the rest of my life, given a transmission like this.
Driving a sports car doesn’t always mean being the fastest, but having the biggest smile on your face. The manual ‘box in the GT4 certainly had me smiling for a long time, which tells you so much about its fun factor. One small complaint? The gearing is a bit long, thus slightly blunting acceleration on low revs.
I was still buzzing for days after having a taste of what the GT4 represents. It really feels like an ‘end-of-days’ kind of sports car, - one that celebrates everything we love about driving - because it knows its days are numbered. I get the feeling Porsche knows this too.
Remember the revered, analogue sports cars from earlier eras such as the Honda S2000, E30 BMW M3, or even Porsche's own Mezger-powered 997 911 GT3 RS 4.0. Why is that their values are skyrocketing? It's because deep down, humankind knows these cars are the last slivers of pure, unadulterated driving experiences, that are going extinct with every passing day.
The GT4 is so much more than just another sports car. It is a tribute to the legends that came before it. It is a nod to drivers who still prize purity over ultimate speed. It is a car that makes you look forward to waking up in the morning, just to go for a drive to nowhere.
This is one of those cars that will make my bucket list for sure. My biggest problem? I don’t have a million Ringgit lying around in my bank account. If you do, I’d like to be best friends with you. Buy one, while you still can, because, you won’t able to pretty soon. How soon? Who knows?
Jason's foremost passion is all things automotive, where he spent his formative working years as a Product Planner and Trainer. An Advanced Driving Instructor by training and an all-round enthusiast, Jason loves going into intricate details about driving dynamics. Will drive anything with 4 wheels and a steering.