Zuffenhausen, Germany — The hardest-core Porsches traditionally wear the GT badge. Maybe not the GTS moniker, which is usually 60 percent looks and 40 percent content, at best. But put together GT and a number, and you almost assuredly have a hair-raising sports car. Like the GT1, the most fearsome 911 ever conceived. Or the GT2, the most potent rear-wheel-drive iteration of the breed. Then of course, there’s the GT3 and GT3 RS, which are, in essence, hot and super-hot street-legal track cars. The latest addition to the wild and wonderful GT family is the 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4. It’s a performer.
Numerous GT-specific add-ons make it crystal clear at a glance that this coupe means business. A tray-shaped front splitter flies low enough to decapitate small mammals, enlarged air intakes will catch almost as many flies as the windscreen, and the rear spoiler easily seats a dozen buzzards abreast. Other drag-cutting addenda are the more slippery door mirrors, flared lateral breathing scoops wearing embossed GT4 logos, and a rear diffuser that complements the two staggered air deflectors. All in all, the sportiest Cayman produces 220 pounds of downforce at speed.
Climb into the optional lightweight bucket seats, reminiscent of those in the 918, and wrap your hands around the Alcantara steering wheel. It has no buttons, no thumbwheels, no shift paddles. This is an environment for sports-car lovers: clearly legible instruments, no head-up display, and no automatic transmission. The only available gearbox is a six-speed manual, which is quicker and slicker than the one fitted to the Cayman GTS.
Andreas Preuninger, who, as head of Porsche’s GT division, led development of the GT4, sums up the message conveyed by his latest brainchild: “To us, it simply is a highly desirable sports car. But don’t let this desirability make you think that every Dick, Tom, and Harry can hop in and take it to the limit just like that.”
Intimidated yet? We fire up the Carrera S-sourced 3.8-liter flat-six and head off on Stuttgart roads that are still coated with what was freezing rain only a couple hours ago. The first stretch of autobahn is restricted to 75 mph. The instant the ban lifts, we shift down into third and give her stick. The naturally aspirated six picks up at 4,750 rpm, where peak torque of 309 lb-ft comes on, but it really wails around 7,400, when it delivers all 385 hp. Porsche’s next-generation turbo engines, just around the corner, will deliver more power and achieve better fuel efficiency (the GT4 is 15 percent worse than the Cayman GTS on the European cycle), but they won’t give you goosebumps like this engine does.
The 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 feels rock solid at autobahn spends, barely irritated by washed-out tarmac, yawning expansion joints, and impromptu surface variations. At 145 mph, traffic starts clogging our flight path, and soon after the next speed limit is enforced with radar-eyed vigor. On an empty, dry, and reasonably straight autobahn, the Cayman GT4 can top 183 mph.