In recent months, the manufacturer Porsche has chosen to make me rediscover the DNA of its range through different driving experiences. On the road, testing a Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, a Macan Turbo and a sensational 911 GT3 RS. Not to mention the breathtaking Taycan Turbo S, a real catapult and the first electric car of its kind, capable of making the powerful Tesla Model S bite the dust.
Recently, however, Porsche invited me to take the experience a little further, offering me a day on the track with different products. How could I have refused? Especially since in recent years, my experiences behind the wheel of Porsche cars had mainly taken place during the cold season, especially during the Porsche Ice Experience. An event taking place on the Mecaglisse circuit of Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci, where several driving exercises on snow and ice allow you to hone your skills, while discovering the know-how of these cars, not without a good dose of pleasure.
This time, this crazy day in sensation was going to bring me to Bowmanville, to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. One of the most beautiful circuits in the country, where the environment exudes passion for racing more than anywhere else in Canada. Porsche therefore invited us first to a brief information session to remind us of some safety rules, explaining to us in passing the course of the day. Basically, the track, the track… and more the track! Just pure pleasure, with great latitude allowing us to tame the vehicles and their various driving modes.
On the menu
Among the cars available are a 911 Carrera S with manual transmission, a Taycan Turbo and Turbo S, a 718 Spyder and a 718 Cayman GT4. Having a choice of three, I was going to pick the 911, the Taycan and the Cayman GT4, which I was going to prefer for the circuit to its close soft-top cousin.
Six 20-minute sessions would allow us to spend 40 minutes behind the wheel of each one. 40 minutes to have fun and to tame the circuit like the cars, although a world of difference sets them apart. The exercise was therefore going to take place on the small technical circuit of the place, rather than on the Grand Prix circuit, where the NASCAR events take place in particular. A tight track, cut through turns and often uneven, almost giving the impression of being designed to provoke gagging. However, experience will have taught me that two anti-nausea ginger capsules consumed one hour before the start of the test are essential.
From GT4 … to GT4
In order, I was going to get behind the wheel of the Cayman GT4, 911 Carrera and Taycan. Hours of pleasure to tame the circuit better and better, each time raising the degree of difficulty. Not for cars, of course, but for my stomach, which as it passed from one automobile to another, had to deal with increasingly critical mass transfers each time. Why? Because even though the Taycan is able to keep up with the Cayman GT4 on this small circuit, even biting the dust in the few sections of a straight line, the latter constantly struggles with the laws of physics. And who was paying the price?
So yes, the Taycan is a formidable beast, capable of surprising all skeptics. At 2,300 kilos, it takes serious gear, both mechanical and electronic, to shine on a circuit. I’ll be frank: despite his incredible prowess, I had to take a break after the two driving sessions, so that my organs stabilized. But now, we proposed a fourth driving session! Two more 20-minute blocks, just because we had time. I immediately jumped into the Cayman, my favorite.
Let’s hear, the 911 is also exceptional on the track. A refined car, with great maneuverability and which displays a torque significantly higher than that of the Cayman. However, because more massive and heavier by about 75 kilos, this 911 did not necessarily give me the same ultimate degree of pleasure.
On the GT4, no adaptive drive modes or buttons on the steering wheel. A purist car, focused on performance and driving pleasure. Moreover, this is the entry-level model in Porsche’s GT range, aimed at enthusiasts looking for a car without compromise. What adjustments can be made on it? The partial or complete deactivation of traction control and dynamic stability control, the firmness of the suspension as well as the degree of inclination of this huge rear spoiler, which must however be adjusted manually. Moreover, it suffices to adopt the best driving position possible to get started. In this regard, know that the Cayman, although equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, is also equipped with a cannon-starter mode, allowing to cross the 0-100 km / h in 4.4 seconds, according to the constructor.
A few laps of the track are obviously needed before the excellent Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 brand tires heat up. When cold, the rear axle oversteers slightly, just enough to set the tone for the car’s exceptional behavior. A racing car with incredibly precise steering that is just light enough, a solid chassis and a firm suspension, finely studied. Perfectly balanced thanks to a 50/50 weight distribution, the Cayman GT4 is thus greatly distinguished from its little sisters. First, by the exoticism of its performance and driving pleasure, but also by this exhilarating sound coming from an atmospheric 4.0-liter six-cylinder, producing 414 horsepower.
Solid as a rock and giving no impression of suffering despite the abuse I was inflicting on it, this Cayman GT4 would certainly have been a little more out of breath on a high speed circuit, where the advantage of the 911 is would be felt. On the other hand, on this small technical circuit, the car shone like a star. Interestingly, I never had to pass the fourth gear, mostly using the second, sometimes the third. Honestly, it would even have been possible for me to always remain in second gear, peaking at 8,000 rpm and close to 140 km / h. However, it is impossible to put aside this pleasure of “playing leverage” with a gearbox which, moreover, is very precise.
At the end of this track test, the title of Pierre-Yves McSween’s bestselling book stuck in my head. “Do you really need it? I kept repeating to myself, summarily calculating the monthly payments necessary for its acquisition. Figures which, of course, would force me to come to my senses. And for good reason, $ 147,000 was required for this car, which however had the advantage of benefiting from these sports seats with carbon shell ($ 6,740) and powerful carbon-ceramic brakes ($ 9,130). Two expensive options, but highly recommended for those aiming to do the tour. Now, why get such a car if the circuit is not part of the plans?
On the road
Before going home, a little road trip with this GT4 was necessary. Was it with the aim of catching her, in order to make me disillusioned? What a mistake! Because even on the road, and although its ride is very firm, this Cayman remains a charm to drive. It would of course be criticized for the conservative side of its interior, compared to the other products of the brand, it which does not offer the option of the Android Auto application, offering only Apple CarPlay for the sum of $ 410 . Also, those tasteless retractable cup holders, designed to convince you to never use them. Otherwise, just candy. A tailor-made cockpit, interior fabric handles, symbolic but oh so charming, as well as the superb typical Porsche finish, which is certainly not likely to age badly.
Now, it is true that the manual gearbox, although very precise, makes the experience sometimes annoying on the roads of Quebec… or Ontario! Because the pleasure of making the snitch climb near the red zone is part of the charm of this car, which will nevertheless require you to calm your enthusiasm from second gear. So, within the bounds of legality, you will only go through a gear once, unless you do it at 3,500 rpm, which quickly gets boring.
That said, let’s respect the fact that Porsche is keeping this offer of a manual gearbox, which obviously contributes to the pleasure of driving on the track, as it would have been easy to swap it for a PDK gearbox. What we did in the case of recent 911 GT2 and GT3. And it’s only a matter of time before it’s offered here, if only as an option.
One thing is certain, the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 is for me one of the most serious sports cars on the market. A car that is not as fast as a Chevrolet Corvette, not as brutal as a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, but which provides incomparable driving pleasure. Not to mention that it is almost an investment, considering its excellent resale value.