2016 Porsche Cayman Driving Impressions

The Porsche flat six engine is a rev-happy sucker that climbs up the range evenly and progressively, and even the base 2.7-liter with 275 horsepower offers performance that exceeds the ordinary.

The electric power steering is light and accurate, taking qualities from the system in the faster 911. It lacks the feedback of the hydraulic unit in the previous generation, but it’s likely the best in this class, and contributes to the Cayman’s superb dynamic poise. The car weighs about 3000 pounds, fairly light for a sports car this size, and the mid-mounted engine results in good balance and weight distribution, keeping the handling nimble and grip good, to aid the acceleration.

The balance and aerodynamics also keep the Cayman stable at extreme speeds, not that you’ll go there or even that we tested it there. But others have, and that’s the point: stability. The base Cayman with unremarkable horsepower can hit 165 miles per hour, the Cayman S will go 175, the GTS 177, and the new lightweight 385-horsepower GT4 can take you to 183 mph. All without worry.

Do they do track days at Daytona? Maybe not, but the GT4 was tested by Porsche at the legendary Nurburgring circuit, where Porsche said it clocked a time of 7:40, matching the lap times of the Ferrari 430 Scuderia, Lamborghini Murcielago and McLaren Mercedes SLR, while being only two seconds slower than the Porsche 911 Turbo. But, while we’re at it, eight seconds slower than the Mustang Ford Shelby GT350R and 20 seconds slower than the Corvette ZR1. (GT4 is shown here at Road Atlanta.)

In addition to having less weight and more horsepower, the GT4 is about 1.2 inches lower than the other Caymans, and has a couple aero tweaks and a big rear wing to create more downforce aiding that stability at 183 mph. There are also more cooling inlets in the nose, and special mounts in the six-speed manual gearbox to reduce vibration.

The GT4 only comes with the manual transmission, but the other models offer the seven-speed twin clutch. On top of that option there’s the Sport Chrono option, which adds the transmission mounts, more aggressive electronic programming, and launch control to eliminate wheelspin from a standing start, which explains why the zero-to-sixty times we quoted are faster with the PDK/Sport Chrono. Burnouts are showy but slow.

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