Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

718 Cayman GT4: atmospheric 4.0-litre!

Photo credit: Porsche

It would appear that natural-aspiration is not quite dead just yet.

Porsche a few days ago announced a new generation of the Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder, the top, most sporting models of their respective range. The biggest revelation from the news is the return of the atmospheric motor to the 718 chassis. Not only that, it’s also a return of the flat-six engine to the Cayman/Boxster twin, with this generation of cars having switched entirely to the much-maligned turbocharged flat-four.

Too bad it’ll cost you six figures to get back the good stuff.

Nevertheless, in this day and age of turbocharged this and electrified that, any new sports car that’s still got an atmospheric beating heart is worth celebrating. The day may arrive when the Porsche GT product line will only feature turbocharged engines and or hybrid drivetrain, but for the time being the unencumbered sounds of natural-aspiration remains ever so sweet. Porsche flat-sixes that revs to the sky is precisely why I bought a 911 GT3.  

A not insignificant amount of enthusiasts was hoping Porsche would simply transplant the 4.0-litre unit serving duty in the GT3 and GT3RS into the new GT4 and Spyder, though it was always a bit of a fool’s wish. It’s difficult to see how Porsche could’ve done it without hugely inflating the already hefty purchase price, and more importantly, not encroach on the GT3’s performance capabilities. It seems the Cayman will forever be neutered in service of the 911 big brother.

Indeed, this new 4.0-litre flat-six engine is not of the vaunted 4.0-liter badged 911s of prior: it’s a heavily reworked motor based on the turbocharged 3.0-litre currently serving duty in the 911. The enlarged engine, sans turbochargers, makes 420 horsepower and will spin to an 8,000 rpm redline; all very exciting stats in a vacuum, but compared to the supremely characterful, motorsport-derived 4.0-litre in the 911 GT3, an engine that goes to 9,000rpm, it’s honestly a bit pedestrian.

Relativity is a funny thing.

So I’m sure there’s some disappointment going around, though we should really detach and look at the overall picture: the atmospheric flat-six is back in the 718 chassis – arguably the purest sports car platform Porsche produces. Yes, it’s a great shame one must spend top money to avoid the charmless turbo four; though for a company that will charge you hundreds just to get the seatbelts in a different color, it’s fairly on brand, isn’t it?

An even more delicious prospect: placing this new 4.0-litre engine of the GT4 in a variant of the 992, perhaps a 911 T. That would give me something to ponder about in relation to my GT3…

911 or bust

If you’re going buy a Porsche car, and you’re the type of person - like me - who can only afford one, the answer can only be the vaunted 911. 

I intend complete disrespect to the Boxster and Cayman. Indeed the duo may be the best most dynamically balanced sports car for any money.  What Porsche has engineered with mere MacPherson struts at all four corners is simply amazing. I definitely would not decline a go in a Cayman GT4 or a Boxster GTS. 

But it’s not a 911. Given an option between said Cayman GT4 or a poverty-spec Carrera, I’d pick the 911 every single time. The Cayman would be the better driver’s car, but for me it cannot hold a candle to the icon, no matter what extreme racing spec it comes in. 

You buy a Porsche, you buy a 911. 

We definitely shouldn't take into account what other people say, but let’s face it, Boxster and Cayman owners are looked at as people who can’t afford a 911. Just like Jaguar sports car buyers are people who haven’t got the money for an Aston Martin; an Audi is out of the price bracket? Buy a Volkswagen. 

It’s all a compromise. I don’t want to compromise. Because when we cheap out on lesser versions there’s bound to be disappointment down the road. The BMW M235i drivers looking forlorn at the M2 pulling up alongside. The flat-bill hatted kid in an WRX wishing he saved a bit longer for the STI. 

If I’m buying a Porsche, it’s got to be a 911. Not just a plain 911, but a GT3. 

Anything less isn't worth the pursuit. 

Nothing like heavy roadwork at 7 in the morning to wake up the neighborhood. 

Nothing like heavy roadwork at 7 in the morning to wake up the neighborhood.