I’m about to make a bold claim, so please make sure you are logged in to the Disqus comment pane below, and warm up your keyboards, for it’s a pretty hot take.
The 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 is the best Porsche you can buy right now.
Full stop. End of message. Thank you for coming.
Yep, I place the little winged warrior ahead of the monstrous 911 Turbo, all of the GT cars and even the brand-new electric Taycan, on the dais that prioritises sheer driver enjoyment over anything and everything else.
This particular car is also prioritising yellow over everything else, which isn’t to everyone’s tastes (read: mine), and perhaps an indication that while I do consider it to be the best, it still isn’t perfect.
Priced from $206,600 before options and on-road costs, the peak-718 is $29,700 more affordable than the most basic 911 Carrera ($236,300), and a whole $119,400 lighter than its numerical precursor, the now discontinued 991 911 GT3 ($326,000).
This price positioning makes it sound like the proverbial bargain.
So much so, that ours has had an additional $25,760 spent on goodies, but you’d struggle to see where.
For example, the 18-way powered sport-seats are a $5150 option. They are comfortable and supportive and trimmed in a combination of Alcantara and leather, but it’s not as if the GT4 doesn’t come with seats to begin with and while 18-way adjustment is handy, having manual reach adjustment hardly diminishes the experience of the car.
Want some more?
Brake callipers painted in high-gloss black ($1720), the GT4 badge painted in high-gloss black ($500), contrast stitching around the cabin ($2470), painted headlamp washer covers ($420), sun visors trimmed in Race-Tex ($860), top-centre marking on the steering wheel in yellow ($500) and of course, coloured seat belts ($570) are all but invisible, as they simply change the trim or colour of what is there, and don’t actually add anything extra.
But as we all know that’s not the point of a Porsche.
|2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4|
|Engine configuration||Mid-mounted, naturally aspirated, 'Flat-six' petrol|
|Power||309kW @ 7600rpm|
|Torque||420Nm @ 5000-6800rpm|
|Drive type||Rear-wheel drive|
|Fuel consumption (combined cycle claim)||11.3L/100km|
|Fuel consumption (combined cycle on test)||12.2L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||64L|
|Sales category||Sports < $100,000 (718 Cayman)|
|Key competitors||Lotus | Alpine A110 | Second-hand 911|
Choosing the $5750 interior trim package (with yellow contrast stitching), and the $1400 carbon interior package, does make the car feel cooler, as does the no-cost Racing Yellow paint (one of ten choices), so there is that.
Going further, the $2470 Bose surround sound system, $620 folding exterior mirrors and $2330 LED Porsche dynamic lighting system (headlights) add a bit of extra functionality, but with things like keyless entry and keyless start not even an option on a $200k car, there are still places Porsche is pushing the friendship when it comes to the inclusion of cost-effective convenience technology.
The only box you really must tick though is the Sport Chrono Package, as it gives you the cool lap-timer on the centre of the dash. At $1000 it too feels like a bargain.
And no, it doesn’t give the GT4 an extra sports-plus drive mode as it does in other models, because the car is always in full-sports mode!
The giant rear wing and huge front splitter are standard and give the GT4 it’s ‘not messing around’ appeal. You can also opt for the Touring or Clubsport package for no cost differential, with the CS designation adding the rear roll-cage cross-bracing and fire extinguisher.
Let’s face it, I would. You would.
|2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4|
|Boot volume||425L - 150L front and 275L rear|
|Wheels/tyres||20-inch 245/35 R20 front - 295/30 R20 rear - Michelin|
So in terms of value-for-money or bang-for-your-buck or any other hyphenated sequence of words, the GT4 looks worthy of my top-billing claim.
But this is a 982 and not a 992, and so keen shoppers will also note the GT4 is a chunky $93,500 more expensive than the entry-level 982 Cayman ($113,100).
There’s a reason for that though, as instead of the 2.0-litre turbo-four, the GT4 is packing a proper Porsche power plant. A reworked, rebored, retuned, de-turbo’d version of the 4.0-litre horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine from the 992 911.
Even without forced induction, power is a haughty 309kW which peaks at a wailing 7600rpm, with torque building steadily to a peak of 420Nm at 5000rpm.
Porsche claim a 0-100km/h sprint time of just 4.4 seconds, and in a car that weighs just 1381kg, all of this equates to a power-to-weight ratio of 223.8kW/T. More importantly, when you look at how much power-to-weight you get for your dollar, the GT4 is 25 per cent more affordably power-to-weighty than the GT3.
And yes, the numbers stack up even if the description doesn’t.
The flat-six is mounted midship, giving the Cayman a 44:56 front-to-rear weight distribution, opting for a smidge more mass over the rear wheels to help get all that power to the ground.
And it’s done so in the most entertaining way possible, through a six-speed, three-pedal, manual transmission,
A pretty neat set of ingredients, that unfortunately has a considerable flaw.
The gear ratios are long. And by long, I mean looooooooooong.
Porsche notes you can achieve 84km/h in first and 137km/h in second. Forget third (195km/h) and above as you’ve already lost your licence.
On winding local blacktop, you find yourself pushing to that screaming redline in first (which takes about 3-seconds), then alternating between second and third just to be doing something.
The car sounds amazing, no question. Winding it out is a never-ending thrill for your ears, and the bi-modal exhaust even rev-matches on down-shift to give you a neat exhaust blip that one or two times a day you actually need to move out of second gear.
It makes old, grey, ‘remember when’ style Porsche drivers like yours truly sound like we still know what we are doing, and I love it.
What’s more, the exhaust is loud in any setting, off or on, so just keep it on. You’ve chosen the closest thing to a race car, so live with your decision.
On a racetrack, a big racetrack, the car would be amazing. On some un-restricted highways winding through rural Germany it would be sublime.
But through the Yarra Valley, and a typical Victorian mish-mash of 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 and 100km/h zones, you barely even need or use third.
It’s more frustrating than anything, as the GT4 pulls strongly and cleanly from anywhere above 3000rpm, and just begs to be wound out through the gears, until the next speed limit change.
You can push through bends higher than the advisory speed marking without even feeling a hint of protest, as when the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres get up to temperature there is no shortage of grip.
|2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4|
|Options as tested||$25,760|
|ANCAP safety rating||Not yet tested|
|Warranty||3 years / unlimited km|
Gear ratios aside, the GT4 is an amazing tourer. It just eats up the tarmac with eager joy, feeling more balanced and capable and brilliant with every turn of the wheel.
Further, the 718 GT4 is surprisingly docile around town too, the gear change and clutch movement is light and direct, and the car can be driven (in first or second) very calmly, for a bright yellow race car with a giant wing.
One thing to note, that long front splitter and the car’s 82mm ride height afford it a tiny 6.4-degree approach angle, which is basically rules out every driveway transfer you’ll ever come across. Because of this, there are places the car simply won't go.
That includes carparks, so you will need to plan ahead.
Plus, even though it is the ‘smallest’ Porsche, it’s not actually that little and the doors are quite long, meaning you need to be even more particular about where you park, as even on the street the long doors have the propensity to clip curbs.
And, fun fact, while the Cayman (4456mm long by 1801mm wide) is smaller than the current 992 911 (4519mm long by 1852mm wide), it’s actually bigger than every other 911-generation prior to the 997 (4427mm long by 1808mm wide).
The lesson here is to drive it rather than park it. More fun that way.
You have the option of firmer suspension damping, although I’d suggest just using the most comfortable ‘off’ setting, as even on those winding country roads, the car feels accurate and nimble enough, and stiffening it up only lessens the experience.
Track days only for that one.
So again, where we’re already leading the charge on value, the GT4 continues to show its worth on the road, and there are still a few skills left.
The midship engine affords the Cayman two storage areas, 150-litres in the nose and 275-litres under the rear hatch. It gets hot in both, so consider taking your ‘other’ car to go and get ice cream.
It does make the Cayman a very easy car to live with though, despite its racetrack-ready appearance.
Plus inside the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment system offers integrated navigation, DAB digital radio and support for device projection through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You even get access to the Porsche Connected telemetry suite, although due to a setup snafu I didn’t have this activated on the yellow 718.
The interface is pretty ordinary, especially when you look at what is on offer in the new 992 911 and Cayenne, but it’s a small gripe.
There are also heated seats, cup holders and dual-zone climate control to keep you comfortable on your next 24-hour endurance race.
A well-rounded sporting package whichever way you look at it.
It might not have the badge of a 911, and calling a $200,000-plus two-seat sports car ‘affordable’ does sound a bit silly now that I say it out loud, but the 718 GT4 does everything you want a Porsche to do, really well, day in and day out.
The 2021 Porsche Cayman 718 GT4, a four-litre, naturally aspirated, mid-engine, rear-drive sports machine with a manual transmission, a massive spoiler, two boots and kudos for days is what a driver's Porsche is all about.
It has its flaws, but it’s still the best Porsche you can buy.