Opinion: Should we start taking the Porsche Cayman seriously?
A big wing, the optional Clubsport package, and 991 GT3-derived suspension and brakes. These are just three features of the new Porsche Cayman GT4 that suggests it means business.
In reality, all you really need to know is it has been designed and developed by Andreas Preuninger and his GT series production team at Porsche’s famed Weissach facility.
Preuninger (known as ‘Mr GT3’) is the man behind Weissach icons such as the Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0, a car we at Total 911 hold in the very highest esteem. That he has turned his attention to the 911’s ‘little brother, the Cayman, has certainly got us to sit up and notice.
Within the Porsche 911 community there has long been the view, within certain factions, that the mid-engined Cayman is the inferior relation to Zuffenhausen’s credential-creating icon, the 911.
Since its release to the public in 1963 there has not been a single year where you could not buy a brand new Porsche 911 somewhere in the world. By comparison, 2015 marks only the first decadal anniversary of the Porsche Cayman.
Certainly, at the entry-level, the Porsche Cayman is catering for a different class of Porsche fan. In 981 guise, the basic 2.7-litre car starts at £39,694, nearly half the price of a standard 991 Carrera. While derogatory, there is at least a little bit of truth in the ‘poor man’s 911’ adage.
However, that tide seems to be turning. In the middle of last year (around the time of the first Cayman GT4 spy shots), Porsche launched the then top-spec 981 Cayman GTS.
Complete with a £55,397 price tag, it marked the start of the Cayman’s march towards Porsche 911 territory both economically and dynamically. After just a day behind the wheel, I was smitten with the Cayman GTS and seriously considering my ‘allegiance’ to the 911.
Now, the new Porsche Cayman GT4 looks set to bridge that gap even further, with its £64,451 starting price making it a tempting proposition for buyers who had previously been exploring the option of a new 991 Carrera purchase.
The Zuffenhausen rumour mill had always maintained that Porsche was deliberately hamstringing the Cayman as they knew a truly ‘hot’ edition was likely to cannibalise entry-level 911 sales.
That rumour has well and truly been put to bed with the launch of the Porsche Cayman GT4, a car that provides more performance than a 991 Carrera yet keeps a spare £9,058 in your wallet should you choose the former.
By giving Preuninger’s team the go-ahead for a mid-engined GT car, the powers that be within Zuffenhausen appear to have decided that now is the time to make the Cayman a serious part of the Porsche line-up. Should we, as traditional 911 enthusiasts follow suit?
There is certainly a lot of evidence to suggest we should. Unlike the PDK-only 991 GT3, the new Cayman GT4 will only be offered with the sweet six-speed manual gearbox found across the 981 range.
It’s lower, lighter and shorter than a Porsche 991 Carrera or the latest 911 GT3 too. In short, despite the location of its engine, it is the type of car that traditional Porsche 911 fans have been crying out for over the last few years.
As I have said before, the inter-company rivalry between the two cars can only be a good thing for the neinelfer, even if the new Cayman GT4 cannibalises sales the entry-level 911s.
Porsche know that, with its history, the Porsche 911 cannot fail. Therefore, should the high-spec Caymans become more popular than basic 911s, Zuffenhausen will know that its icon needs work.
This will naturally improve the 911 breed (though I am unsure if the planned move to turbocharging is the way to achieve that). If they Cayman GT4 pushed the 911 Carrera to bigger and better things that is no bad thing.
And, before then, the new Porsche Cayman GT4 looks set to provide fans of Zuffenhausen with another truly great driver’s car. Whether the engine is in the middle or at the rear, I can certainly get behind that.