by Gabe Beita Kiser
With high-dollar exotic cars flying off shelves at unprecedented rates, the war between sports car manufacturers has been heating up. And as the segment's incumbent, Porsche knew it had little choice but to fix the main issue with the current 982-generation 718 Cayman: the fact its 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder lacks the charisma and soul of a Stuttgart-made flat-six. It was a problem that plagued even the more hardcore 718 Cayman GTS model. Despite that, Porsche has another reason for revamping the GT4: because it has the responsibility to.
When you build a mid-engined sports car that drives like a dream and you have the ability to tune it to outright driving perfection, you have the responsibility to do so. Also, Porsche wasn't about to let its competitors get anywhere near it. So in order to improve upon the 718 Cayman, Porsche decided to take a move out of the 981-generation Cayman GT4's playbook and give the new GT4 a naturally-aspirated mid-mounted flat-six to replace the old car's 3.8-liter mill.
4.0-liter Flat 6 Gas
On the design front, the 718 Cayman GT4 sees a series of classically subtle Porsche upgrades. Fans of Stuttgart's cars have long known that they should not expect revolutionary styling updates to the automaker's core models, and the Cayman GT4 follows suit by adding only the essentials to the 718 donor car. The most apparent external change is the large rear wing on the GT4. Take a moment to look around the car, however, and you'll spot more changes. These include a new front fascia with larger intakes and the characteristic GT gap between the front fender and hood (also seen on the 911 GT3 RS), larger side intakes, and a large rear diffuser encapsulating dual exhaust outlets.
Those "small changes," however, add up to huge aerodynamic gains, with the 718 Cayman GT4 making 50% more downforce than the 981-generation it replaces thanks in part to its fixed rear wing, which is supposedly 20% more efficient than the previous Cayman GT4's. The rear end further benefits from a 30% increase in downforce over the rear axle that's gained through the use of a new rear diffuser, helping the GT4 remain the track day warrior's car of choice, especially when considering that when combined, its aero kit can achieve 26.4 pounds of extra downforce at 124 mph than the old car could.
While the Cayman GT4 features different dimensions when compared to its base 718 counterpart, most of the changes are due to the aerodynamic elements added on. The major dimensional change comes from a new track-optimized suspension complete with new springs and struts. These lower the car by 30 mm, helping the GT4 carve corners more easily thanks to its lower center of gravity. Aside from that, the sports car's wheelbase grows by 0.4 inches over the base 718's 97.4-inch wheelbase while height now sits at an even 50.0 inches, a full inch lower than the 718 Cayman. The GT4's overall length goes up by a considerable 3.1 inches, to 175.5 inches, while width is only up by 0.1 inches, to 71.0 inches.
Porsche didn't bring huge changes to the 718 Cayman GT4's interior, but it does get the standard touches that its predecessor got. That includes fabric door-pulls used in place of handles to save weight, while the infotainment system can either be kept in place or eliminated to save even more weight. Copious amounts of Alcantara coat much of the Cayman GT4's interior and brings an upscale feel to its cabin without adding too much weight, but leather or carbon fiber trim and most other amenities, like heated seats, surround sound, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, can be added for a premium.
The GT-built 718's hallmark feature is, of course, its engine. It starts out as a 3.0-liter turbocharged flat-six from the current-generation 911 Carrera, but gets bored and stripped of its turbos to become the 718 Cayman GT4's 4.0-liter naturally-aspirated flat-six powerplant, which is then mated exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission.
As if that didn't make it the perfect driver's car already, the mid-mounted engine sends 414 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels, themselves equipped with a mechanical rear locking differential.
That's an improvement of 34 horsepower over the old Cayman GT4, which helps the car lap the Nurburgring ten seconds faster than its predecessor. That kind of power is good enough to send the GT4 to 62 mph from a standstill in 4.4 seconds before it hits a top speed of 189 mph.
But the numbers only tell half the story. That's because Porsche also wanted to improve on the last Cayman GT4's character, which some fans complained was great but just short of perfect due to the fact its engine didn't rev as high as it could go. So Porsche tuned the new engine so it could be revved all the way up to 8,000 rpm (keep in mind the Mustang GT350's flat-plane crank V8 can only best that by 250 rpm), helping improve the Cayman GT4's exhaust note and range.
Technological additions include Adaptive Cylinder Control, which allows the GT4 to shut off fuel to one of the cylinder banks in low-load situations to save fuel, and updates to the PSM traction control system to enable it to play better with the Porsche-specific high-performance Michelin tires.
Despite being seen as a standalone model in the eyes of Porsche's GT division, the 718 Cayman GT4 can be considered a high-performance variant of the 718 Cayman by the rest of us. Regardless, opting for this higher "trim" costs a pretty penny. It's technically possible to snag a 718 Cayman GT4 for under $100k since it starts out at $99,200 excluding destination. Still, that makes the car considerably more expensive than the base 718, with the Cayman starting at $56,900 and the Cayman S raising that by $12,400. The middle-of-the-pack GTS model, on the other hand, starts at $80,700 without destination.
It should be noted that keeping the 718 Cayman GT4 south of the six-figure range will be tough once options come into play. And being a Porsche, they most certainly will. Aside from color, trim, and seating choices (which will cost you), the only other noteworthy options are the GT4's Clubsport package, which adds a steel roll bar behind the front seats, a six-point seatbelt to the driver's seat, and a fire extinguisher, as well as Porsche Ceramic Composite brakes, which can be had in place of the stock aluminum monobloc fixed-caliper brakes.
When the 981-generation GT4 first debuted, Porsche limited production numbers for the car, causing pandemonium when customers either couldn't get their hands on one or had to undergo Porsche's vetting process to ensure they weren't buying just to flip the car for a profit upon delivery. That won't be a problem this time, however, since Porsche won't limit output for the 718 Cayman GT4. Essentially, if you want one and have the money for it, Porsche will take your order.
Given the demand for the previous car, we expect the new Cayman GT4 to sell fairly well relative to its respective class. The steep price tag that enters 911 territory means that the Cayman will likely be bought by enthusiasts and track-day regulars rather than status-seekers, but the sheer amount of driving pleasure it delivers will be worth the price.