Porsche Cayman GT4 review - the ultimate drivers' Porsche? - Ride and handling
The Cayman we've all been waiting for
Naturally, this is where the Cayman GT4 really excels. The standard car’s perfect, mid-engined balance is just as evident in this limited edition model, but in terms of response and immediacy the GT4 is on a different planet to the mainstream versions. One of the signature dynamic traits of any Cayman is the impression it gives in cornering of leaning on both the front and rear axles equally hard. That means there’s no sense of the car understeering heavily or of the rear end trying to break free. With both axles digging into the road surface you feel as though you’re sat right at the pivot point of the chassis. That means you’re wonderfully in tune with the car, knowing instinctively how hard you can work the tyres. Fitted with the 911 GT3’s heavily uprated front axle the Cayman GT4 answers all the criticisms we have of the standard Cayman that relate to the entry phase of a corner. Whereas that car can feel a touch vague, particularly in transient conditions, with remote steering and an unclear picture of where the limit of front axle grip is, the GT4 is completely intuitive. Its steering is so much sharper and more communicative, wheel writhing in your hands rather than being lifeless.
It helps that the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s find tremendous grip – in the dry, at least – but with its uprated suspension and more direct steering the GT4 feels like a different animal to every other Cayman at corner entry. Mid-corner grip is terrifically strong, too, but there’s enough feel through the chassis and the seat to let you know when that grip is starting to bleed away.
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There is a trace of understeer on initial turn-in – it’s built into the chassis rather than being a shortfall of grip – but there’s so much agility and adjustability in the chassis that you can trim it out by trail-braking, or otherwise ride it out for a fraction of a second until you reach the apex, then neutralise the car on the throttle. That level of engagement is what driving enthusiasts live for. Of course, the GT4 is a stiffer-sprung car than the standard models, which gives it even tauter body control and roll resistance, but in proper Porsche Motorsport tradition is also rides a bumpy road surface with abundant damping quality. The body is never skipped around or upset by lumps and bumps and never does the chassis run out of suspension travel in compressions.
The GT4’s Cup 2 tyres do require care. This latest iteration of Michelin’s ultra high performance rubber is a vast improvement over the original Cup in terms of cold and wet weather performance, but the Cup 2 is still compromised and therefore much less forgiving in adverse conditions then a conventional performance tyre.
There’s enough grip and traction, even in persistent rain, for the GT4 to feel safe and secure in steady driving. It needn’t be considered a dry-weather car only, then. It’s when you start to push harder in slippery conditions that the tyres fall out of their comfort zone.
Tip the car into a corner with any real enthusiasm in the wet and you’ll feel the front axle struggle to find any purchase. The front end will push wide, then the rear end will come unstuck, too, which is a good indicator of how well balanced the GT4 is. With the car settled in a corner, meanwhile, it takes only a gentle throttle input to spin the rear wheels and send the back end of the car sailing round.
Much the same is true on a dry road when the tyres are cold. The front wheels scud across the road surface markedly on roundabouts and you can feel the rear end struggling to follow the front through faster corners. The key is to take time to warm them through before leaning on the car, after which point there’s so much cornering grip you can more or less pick your turn in speed and be confident the car will find a way through the corner.
This is certainly one of the most technically capable performance car chassis at any price point, but the Cayman GT4 is also enormous fun to drive down a winding stretch of road.