• The Porsche Cayman 718 GT4 is the ultimate expression in the model's range.
• It's powered by a 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine and mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
• Porsche has fitted it with the suspension and components from its bigger 911 GT3 model for a step up in performance and driving feel.
Two years ago, around this time, Wheels24 was invited to Germany to experience Porsche's 718 Cayman and Boxster models at the carmaker's facility in Leipzig.
Not only does it have a testing facility that features some of the best corners from the world's best race tracks, but it is the location where Porsche builds the Macan and Panamera models.
The trip served as an opportunity to get to learn about the brand's entry-level cars and drive them in a fast, yet safe, manner. And I remember thinking how fun they were to drive. The steering is precise and a good amount of power is available, but not too much to the point that the car feels like it's getting away from you.
There was lots to learn about how the brand's philosophy, of placing the engine in a mid-rear location, gives it the brilliant traction and unique driving feel. It was a great way to try out the babies of the Porsche sports car model range.
And part of me was dying to experience the Parabolica, Carousel and other famous corners recreated in Leipzig in the instructor's 911 GT3. And that brings us onto the Cayman 718 GT4, because it features GT3 suspension and components. Now we get to drive it here at home.
How does it drive?
First impression as the Gentian Blue GT4 fires up is: "This car is loud man." And it looks damn good. The reason it looks so bad-ass is because it features serious aerodynamics that make it cut through the air faster than any Cayman before it.
The larger front splitter and spoilers in front of the wheels' arches are designed to create downforce on the front axle and keep the nose planted as all the weight is focused towards the back of the car.
It has attainable power. The 309kW are there to be enjoyed and the joy pinching the clutch and feeling it bite at the right moment before swapping a cog, creates a feeling between car and driver that most performance machinery simply don't have anymore.
This is the opposite of a "point and squirt" car. On a back road in Cape Town I dared to take the GT4 to a place to feel the usability of a performance car that might look terrifying, but implored to connect with it.
The GT4 is the quintessential driver's car. And yeah, you're probably thinking this is another cliché from a motoring journalist. I simply can't think of any car that's more deserving of this description.
It offers incredible cornering grip, and has a steering wheel that jabbers consistently through your hands at every turn. After all, it's fitted with the GT3's front axle, and that means turn-in is crisp and precise.
When taking it on my favourite twisty roads below the city's mountains, the automatic throttle blip with down changes of the slick gearbox were perfectly timed and the revs were perfectly matched.
It's called the 982 Evo and it's from the 992 911 Carrera's 3.0-litre engine that's been bored out to a larger capacity. Yep, that's a lot of numbers. But I've purposefully not mentioned numbers until now because this car doesn't need numbers to justify its worth.
Having said that, this GT4 lapped the Nurburgring 12 seconds faster than the old car, so it's got the facts to back it up with a seven-minute and 12-second lap time.
For the record, the 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine produces 309kW, funnily enough the same as the B7 Audi RS4 from the mid-2000s, and 420Nm. The narrow band urges you to rev to more than 5 000 r/min to unlock the maximum torque, and a lofty 7 600 r/min to extract more than 300kW. It's helluva satisfying when an engine implores to be revved high, especially with the proliferation of turbocharged powered high-performance cars.
The 0-100km/h sprint time is quoted at 4.4 seconds and top speed is 304km/h.
But neither of those numbers matter when you drive it for the first time or when I handed back the keys. The GT4 is about hearing every little noise in the cabin, from induction to the linkages and of course, the bark of the flat six behind your head.
It's about the seats and the intricacies gone into managing air flow and downforce. It's about cars, and passionate people building them for people who will appreciate what they are for: the joy of driving.