We fly out to Scotlands to test out Porsche’s two particularly emotional and powerful top models. The all-new 718 Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder.
In our opinion, Porsche’s all-new Cayman GT4 and 718 Spyder are probably the greatest gifts Porsche could give the true enthusiast. That is if you still remember what a naturally aspirated engine is with three pedals and manual gearbox. Not to forget the sweet scream of 8000 RPM behind your back as you peel out of a corner with your mouth wide open and thrills in your pants. So to all the purists out there, Rejoice! The Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder are back. When it was first launched in 2015, the Cayman GT4 was an instant hit: a 385 horsepower, six-cylinder engine, a manual six-speed transmission, a 911 GT3 Chassis (minus the drama) and reasonable asking price. In time as the 911 got heavier, wider and more complex, there were folks who wanted to bring out the purity of driving a Porsche. That’s where the GT4 comes in, a reflection of the good old virtues of a Porsche. With that said, we hopped into a plane and flew to Edinburgh Scotland to find out just how good the new models have become.
So what’s new?
Frankly speaking, a lot. First off, there’s the engine. Previously, the 718 Cayman and Boxster were equipped with a four-cylinder turbocharged engine. It was fast and efficient, but purist (including us) didn’t take too well towards it. Now there’s a new 4.0-liter six-cylinder boxer engine with no turbos (which we like). Bear in mind; this is not an engine from the 911 GT3, Speedster, etc. That masterpiece wouldn’t have been able to fit into the small 718 engine bay, and it would have been way too expensive for a sports car that starts at less than BD40,000. Instead, there’s a brand new engine planted behind your butt, which is a derivative of the 9A2Evo twin-turbo 3.0-liter from the 992 platform.
A stiffer forged crankshaft, a new plastic oil which is 36.5% lighter than the old cast iron part and hydraulic valves are just among the other things to inspire the right motorsport vibe. The output is 414hp at 7,600 rpm and 309 lb-ft of torque between 5,000 and 6,800 rpm with a redline of...drum roll... 8,000 rpm! You also get one of the best six-speed manual transmissions in the world as standard, but if you’re not as hardcore as you might pretend to be, Porsche will happily fit a seven-speed PDK from 2020 onwards. 0-100 km/h takes 4.2 seconds and 0 - 200 km/h in just 13.8 seconds. While the spyder has a maximum speed of 300km/h, the Cayman GT4 will do 305km/h respectively.
The GT4 and Spyder have the front axles from the 911 GT3. At the rear, however, there’s a reinforced lightweight axle since the engine position on the 718 is entirely different from the GT3, so no GT3 rear axles. Parts that you do get from the GT3 catalogue include - Front & rear dampers, wishbones & trailing arms, chassis mounts and stiffer uni-ball bearings. The PASM chassis is adaptive, and if you know how to work a wrench, you can do a great job tuning in your suspension since the stabilizers and spring damper units are adjustable. Speaking of adjustability, you can even adjust the aero bits by merely removing a few plastic parts from the front diffuser and dialing the rear wing down to three degrees, and Voila! You got more downforce. Since we’re now on the subject of downforce: there’s a lot more of it now. The rear wing on the GT4, for example, may not look as different as before, but it now delivers 20% more downforce. The new rear diffuser also increases downforce by 30%. The (down)force is strong with this one! Just like before, the GT4 and Spyder sit 1.2-inches lower and have fat GT3 style 20-inch wheels wrapped with 245 and 295 Michelin Cup2 tires, 15-inch brakes, thicker aprons, and in the case of the Cayman, a beautiful wing.
In addition, there’s an Alcantara interior with 14-inch steering wheel and on request for the Cayman, a Clubsport package complete with a roll bar, six-point harness and fire extinguisher. Lightness is critical for these models, but somehow the GT4 weighs more than the previous model by 80kgs. Regardless, thanks to its new updates, the new GT4 finished the infamous Nordschleife lap with a time of 7:28 seconds. That’s 12 seconds faster than its predecessor and four seconds faster than the now 15-year-old supercar known as the Carrera GT. Ya Salaaam!
On the road
Our road drive was set in the Spyder, with the GT4 stacked for track time, which made sense since the GT4 was honed for lap times than grocery-getting. In the end, the split between the two was a no brainer. As mentioned, the spyder and GT4 boast the same chassis and suspension setups. So driving around the beautiful, twisty, narrow back roads of Scotland made our entire drive in the Spyder even more memorable, not to mention we had the top down pretty much the whole time! The roads were mostly tight and blind, but we could see ahead. A more spirited pace could easily be achieved if it wasn’t for the herd of sheep crossing our path, but that wouldn’t take away the thrill. But back to the Spyder because the 718’s reprogrammed active dampers are an improvement over the last 718 and the ride is not harsh. A thing we noticed was no matter how hard you pushed the 718 around bends; it did not seem to unsettle the car at all. The confidence the Spyder inspires is undoubtedly a performance talking point, but even more, after Porsche engineers advanced its safety net improvements with its trick traction control unit. Hats off to the Porsche engineers for doing a superb job on these cars’ calibration. After driving around for a few hours, we couldn’t wait to head back and try the GT4 on the infamous Scottish racetrack and see what a difference these new adjustments would make on track.
On the Track
Now we’re on the Knockhill Raceway, Scotland’s most famous racetrack. Compared to our racetrack, the Bahrain International Circuit, it’s not very long at just 2km, but it’s a sneaky beast of a racetrack. With all sorts of compressions and blind hilltops just waiting to devour and kill cars. It’s a track not made for bad chassis’. Once buckled into the glorious carbon bucket seats, an angry throaty scream is heard as we start up the GT4 to life. After a few good laps, it became clear that this is a car honed for the circuit. The old GT4 felt tougher and more mechanical. The new one feels a bit softer and lighter in your hands. This doesn’t necessarily mean its less charismatic or fun, only that it’s less stressful in handling. The clutch is lighter, and the shortened gear shifter lever slides through the slots even more effortlessly. Turn in, direction changes and its even more agile with the smooth-running, ultra-precise steering. The circuit provided a proper insight to its chassis. This chassis definitely speaks our language, and the confidence it inspires at the limit is off the charts. Downhill through the tight first bends, it feels extremely planted, with the PCCB ceramic brakes providing excellent stopping power. Uphill we felt it lacked a bit of power, but we shouldn’t forget that Cayman GT4 is just entry model to the Porsche GT range so it would be a bit inappropriate (though we wouldn’t complain) to have 500hp+.
So which one should you get
The Spyder certainly benefits the most because there is virtually no difference this time to the GT4. Sure it starts at BD38,200, but there’s nothing in the class, for the money that even comes close. The ability to combine such an incredible chassis with a great naturally aspirated engine and the ability to remove the hair off your head is awe-inspiring (despite the short hair). And apart from all that, it’s not hard to drive daily. The same principles apply to the GT4 minus the hair loss, which starts at BD38,700. It’s probably become more gentle and more accessible but hasn’t lost any of its real character and handling. It’s an incredible machine to drive, brilliant down to the last bolt and certainly the best car you buy in this segment.