Between turbocharged and naturally-aspirated performance cars, it’s always been a personal preference to go with the latter. The reason is simple and should be easy to agree on – purity. Not only are they more responsive and “alive”, but they also sound better. So when Porsche Malaysia rang us up for a drive in the Porsche Cayman 718 GT4 around Sepang, you can imagine the excitement.
That’s because the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 is one of the last of its kind. Locally, they’ve given it a “Perfectly Irrational” tagline that perfectly reflects the car’s persona and the company’s direction.
At a time when the company’s focus lies mainly in electric mobility, as is the direction of the industry as a whole, they’ve somehow made a car that, to some, may seem like it’s from a different time.
It comes with a manual gearbox and it’s not turbocharged. Instead, Porsche completely reversed the process – modifying the 3.0-litre turbocharged engine from the all-new Porsche 911 – and gave birth to a 4.0-litre naturally-aspirated one with an 8,000 redline that’s loud, raw, and ferocious.
By today’s standards, the 420 hp and torque (up 35 hp from before) may not sound like much, but when the flat-six engine is screaming near the rev limit and you’re upshifting from 3rd to 4th gear at over 150 km/h, there’s nothing out there, even for twice the price, that can deliver the same exhilaration and sensations.
The 911 Carrera S we drove in New Zealand does 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds, 0.7 seconds quicker than the Cayman GT4, and while it’s outrageously quick, it doesn’t feel as visceral as the Cayman GT4. Between 6,000 to 8,000 rpm in the Cayman GT4, it’s like being in the front row seat to the end of the world.
Your eyes are peeled to the road ahead that’s approaching quicker than you can comprehend; your ears are constantly overwhelmed by the flat-six noise blaring just behind you while your hands and legs are working overtime just to keep the car on the tarmac. It is truly a sensory overload and needing more power will be the last thing on your mind.
And the fact that the Cayman GT4 requires the manual changing of gears – something most would be appalled by (or incapable of doing) – makes it look like dial up modem to today’s 5G broadband. However, unlike the annoying dial up tunes and the slow connection speeds, this Cayman GT4 modem has taken all the good from the past and reintroduced in the digital era with modern enhancements.
Take the auto blip for example, a feature which pretty much allows you to “heel and toe like a pro” without having to rev match on your own. It truly takes a whole lot off the driver’s mind, allowing him or her to fully experience the car in all its mechanical glory without need professional training.
It also makes you realise that if Porsche were to apply the same treatment to its 911 GT models, it would be mandatory for its owners to undergo advanced driving courses. With the amount of fire those monsters breathe, especially the GT2 RS, having a manual gearbox would be a real handful.
The brakes we had on the Cayman GT4 were the best Porsche has to offer the car – carbon ceramics. It truly showed its worth, durability and effectiveness as after four hours of continuously lapping the South Section of Sepang, it still held its own. Hard braking maneuvers were still met with rapid deceleration without the slightest hint of the brakes fading or losing its bit.
They’ve also improved the aerodynamics and stability of the GT4. Porsche says it now produces 50% extra downforce from its predecessor, largely contributed by the fixed rear wing and a new, more prominent rear diffuser.
The results truly speaks for itself as when we were doing close to 180 km/h on the back straight Sepang, the rear end felt like it was nailed to the tarmac without the slightest flinch.
The Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 is as analogue as you’ll ever get in a high-performance car without the inconveniences of the past. Irrational? Yes, because this is a typewriter of a car more ways than one but if you’re going to go against a norm, to please a minority of enthusiasts, this is as perfectly irrational as it can get today.