Porshe 911 GT3 RS 2015 review
John Carey reviews the Porsche 911 GT3 RS at the Bilster Berg race track in Germany.
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IF you've had enough of the glowing praise showered on every new Porsche then turn now, please, to the comics. If you're still with me, it’s time to talk about the Cayman GT4 — a car that's possibly the best thing yet to wear a Porsche badge.
There are faster, more luxurious and costlier Porsches, but the GT4 is the car that best encapsulates the brand's ability to produce top-drawer driver's cars.
The GT4 is a cracker. It is fast and seriously focused, but not threatening or intimidating or so pricey it's only a dream machine.
It still costs $189,900, but that's roughly $100,000 less than a 911 GT3.
Porsche Australia already has deposit-paid orders for 140 Cayman GT4s, but has only been allocated 70
After hot laps at Phillip Island, working up through the Cayman family to the GT4, I'm staggered by the car’s ability. It has real racecar grip in corners, an old-school manual gearbox that is slick with tightly stacked ratios, it can sprint to 100km/h in just 4.4 seconds and tops 235km/h down the straight.
It could be a five-star car — only the third one behind the Volkswagen Golf and Mercedes C-Class since I began rating CarsGuide contenders — except that I have not driven it on the road. So, for now at least, it gets 4.5 stars and a giant smile.
There is only one real problem with the GT4 and that's the supply side of the story. Porsche Cars Australia already has deposit-paid orders for 140 Cayman GT4s, but has only been allocated 70 by the factory in Germany.
"It's a nice problem to have, but it’s a problem that we need to fix. We always push as hard as we can and I’m confident we can get some additional production allocation," Porsche spokesman Paul Ellis said.
The GT4 is the last model in the current Cayman family and arrives almost exactly 10 years after I first drove a Cayman in Italy. At the time of the original press preview I asked when there would be a motorsport model and I was told "never", because of the 911.
So we're in Never-never land with the GT4, and a ClubSport GT4 set to be unveiled next month at the LA motor show.
"Motorsport has been finally able to fit a Cayman into its program. It's taken a long time, but they’ve finally been able to work their magic," the technical guru at PCA, Paul Watson, said.
"This is our first road-going mid-engined GT car. It has a completely different character.
The cornering grip makes the biggest impact. The car just turns, even at 170km/h, without any hesitation
"We've used a lot of technology from a lot of the other cars. But it has a sense of purpose. From the time you start the car, it feels different."
The 911 Carrera provides the basic flat-six engine for the Cayman GT4, with 283kW and 420Nm from 3.8L, but a lot of the brake and suspension parts have roots in the 911 GT3.
There is a deep front spoiler and a rear wing that, combined, contribute 100kg of downforce at top speed.
The GT4 also has a wider front track, a narrower rear track — to allow clearance for the big back wheels — and even a slight stretch to the wheelbase. It's all about keeping the car planted on the track.
It takes me a long time to work through the 'lesser' Caymans and up to the GT4, but it's worth it, especially when champion racer Jim Richards hands over his personal GT4, the car he will use in Targa rallies across Australia, for my hot laps.
Sliding into the driver's seat, I'm not sure what to expect. I know there will be more straight-line hit, but I'm wondering about switching back to a manual six-speeder from the brilliant dual-clutch auto versions.
Within 200m my doubts are going. The GT4 is more urgent and direct in every way, with more engine noise to advertise its speed.
The steering is direct and fluid, the brakes are powerful and resist fade, but it's the cornering grip that makes the biggest impact.
The car just turns, even at 170km/h, without any hesitation. Even when I push harder and arrive faster, it still refuses to get unsettled.
I'm loving the manual gearbox, which has even been tweaked to do the old-school throttle 'blip' on the downshifts to make it easier to get into lower gears, and the rear-drive grip with the limited-slip differential.
The Cayman GT4 is not a 911, and it's not a GT3, but it's a better and more rounded package. It's super-dooper fast, yet never threatening and always enjoyable. It is an epic car. It's just a shame we had to wait so long for it.
The GT4 is costly for a Cayman, but a bargain compared with a 911 GT3. It's an addition to the line-up, sitting right at the top, but justifying its place with full involvement by the Motorsport division.
A bunch of GT3 parts from the 911 go into the GT4, but the biggest news is an old-school six-speed manual gearbox.
A tweaked Carrera S engine makes more than enough go, the real speed comes from the chassis.
The GT4 is as sharp as anything in the Porsche catalogue in recent memory, with brilliant tactile feedback.
The 20-inch alloys, a deep front spoiler and a race-style rear wing advertise the car's intent and ensure it also delivers.
What do you think about the new Porsche Cayman GT4? Tell us in the comments below.
|(base)||2.7L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$84,880 – 94,900||2015 Porsche Cayman 2015 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|Black Edition||2.7L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$57,640 – 66,220||2015 Porsche Cayman 2015 Black Edition Pricing and Specs|
|GT4||3.8L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$116,600 – 133,980||2015 Porsche Cayman 2015 GT4 Pricing and Specs|
|GTS||3.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$84,700 – 97,350||2015 Porsche Cayman 2015 GTS Pricing and Specs|
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