- Supreme balance
- Fantastic teacher
- Great track tool
- Jittery suspension
- Tire noise
This car has all the makings of a Best Driver’s Car winner: engine mounted in the proper place directly behind the driver and revving to a glorious 8,000 rpm, a delightful manual shifter (unique this year), unflappable carbon-ceramic brakes with excellent pedal feel, and sticky Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. This is a sports car that punches way above its 3,127-pound featherweight status. The 2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 lapped Laguna Seca quicker than a Ferrari 458, AMG GT 63 4Matic+, and various flavors of Nissan GT-R.
Like any Porsche I have ever driven, I can tell it’s a Porsche in the way all of its controls have matched efforts and responses. Nothing in the steering, pedals, or shifter is too heavy or too light. All respond with exactly what you’d expect from your effort or request. I could be blindfolded and tell you that I was driving a Porsche, and from the exhaust note, I could probably tell you which one. “The engine noise, this is what an exotic car costing three times as much should sound like,” editor-in-chief Mark Rechtin said. “Thunderous, guttural, startling and snarling.”
Sure, it rides harshly on the street and makes a ton of tire noise. But say it with me: “It’s a GT4.” So yeah. On the twisting highway portion of our drive, it felt more like a dance than a flogging. It was absolutely in its element and hanging on the tailpipe of 600- to 700-horsepower cars that cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars more. “It does everything right, all the time, so you can just work on your lines and your braking zones,” features editor Scott Evans said. “Anyone can get in this car and drive to their limit immediately, then work on increasing their limit.”
Also, as a Porsche, it responds to and rewards being driven hard at the track. The Cayman GT4 gets better the harder you drive it. And although it has the “lowest” horsepower rating in this year’s field, it succeeds as a “momentum” car, and that’s how it’s been engineered. (However, as senior features editor Jonny Lieberman noted: “This thing has 14 more horsepower than the original Viper with half the displacement and four fewer cylinders. “)
There’s no blast from a turbocharger or extra motor, no all-wheel drive, no secret trick or electronic gizmo making it go faster. Just six cylinders’ worth of atmospheric air and fuel burning. “It immediately inspires my racing instincts and urges me to drive flat-out,” resident pro driver Randy Pobst said. “The reward is great pleasure and satisfaction of my driving addiction.”
That said, some judges found the track-focused suspension too immediate and jitterbuggy on less refined back roads or around town (but in a nod to Gen X drivers, the Cayman still offers a CD player).
It was the first car I took out at Laguna Seca, and it was a great way to refamiliarize myself with the track. The GT4 is such a great instructor. “Dammit, drive me and trust me,” it goads. What you do matters, so find the perfect line and enjoy. The GT4 provides so much “we got this” that I found myself pushing and pushing, but the car was always there for me. Such a great quality that only a few cars provide.
“This is a wonderful sports car—light, potent, precise, and deceptively capable,” Lieberman said. “Once you accept that it’s not a 911, holy hell does this thing cook!”
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