We know several Porsche Cayman GT4 owners. Without exception,, they are of the traditional Porsche owning breed. While they have an eye for investment and they care for their cars, they are first and foremost drivers, not polishers. Their GT4’s will be for driving, not posing.
We talk to driver coach Mike Marot about his yellow Cayman GT4 and why he decided a Spanish road trip was a good way to run it in. This is the first on a series of Cayman GT4 opinions from people who’ve bought the car to own and enjoy.
What prompted you to go for the Cayman GT4 and how long did you wait?
I’d been waiting more than twelve months, hoping that it would be delivered on time as I had already booked the Ferry from Portsmouth to Santander for December to take it on a road trip.
Why a road trip from new? Most people park new cars up for a while and get to know them gradually.
It’s something I like to do with every new car I own to see how it performs on a variety of different roads, likes and dislikes and if I will enjoy keeping it on a long term basis.
What spec Cayman GT4 did you go for?
Normally I have been a guards red fanatic with several of my previous 911’s including my last GT3 being specified in this iconic shade. This time I went for Speed Yellow.
I also added upgrades including the carbon backed bucket seats used in the 918 Spyder, Sport Chrono Package which I will use incorporating a track precision app and lap trigger facility, as at some point the car will be used on a few circuits.
I decided not to upgrade to ceramic composite brakes as the advantage of these over the additional £5000 premium does not in my opinion warrant their inclusion. The car has been tried and tested in its infancy with steel brakes and they will be more than sufficient for me.
Although my previous GT cars have all been specified with the Clubsport package – roll cage, six point harness and fire extinguisher, I decided to delete these from this car as I would not need the harness. Tthe bucket seats hold you snug for occasional track use and for ‘normal’ use distance driving they become irritating. That also rendered the cage of little value as that was predominately the harness anchor.
Additionally, if the extinguisher is fitted in its desired foot well location the carpet has to be cut to accommodate it. Allowing little or no forward adjustment of the passenger front seat! So a further saving of £3200.
Other GT4 owners have gone a different route, but that’s my choice. I also added Paint Shield film protection from new, as long distance road driving and track work quickly add wear. It’s worth every penny and I had it done from new a Porsche Sheffield.
What route did you take and why? Describe the trip
Direct to Portsmouth, then onwards to Santander via Brittany Ferries. In December, the UK part can be an evil journey in pouring rain. But with bags securely loaded into the GT4’s surprisingly cavernous 425 litres of combined front and rear storage areas and a full tank of 98 Octane, both myself and wife Susan head South to Portsmouth for the pre booked 24 hour crossing with Brittany Ferries.
The journey down to Portsmouth was, typically, hideously wet and visibility low, not the sort of weather you want to be driving a brand new Porsche GT4 in, especially fitted with Michelin Cup tyres. Not the best at dealing with dispersing copious amounts of water, though they are sublime in the dry. Still, to understand everything about the car we need to drive it in all weathers. Luckily in a few hours we will be boarding the boat and heading for the sun.
We finally arrive and check in. This car is 30mm lower than the previous ‘fastest’ Cayman GTS, but unlike the GT3 and RS variants it is not offered with a front axle lift. I am not convinced the car’s front lip spoiler will clear the ships loading ramp on the car deck, so I decide to ask staff politely if we can be loaded last onto the lower truck deck.
We wait patiently on the dock side until ship staff radio through and we are waved forward to board. Slowly and at a slight angle I manoeuvre the car onto the deck with millimetres of clearance. The other advantage of loading last, of course, is you get to disembark first before the upper car deck…
Portsmouth to either Santander or Bilbao has always been our chosen ferry route down to Spain in winter, its benefits from being relaxed travel, reasonably quick, it cuts a huge 750 miles off the trip through France in possibly bad weather especially around the Pyrenees and also saves you more than a hundred euro on toll fees. But most importantly gets you directly to the sun!
Downside though, it can sometimes be rough crossing the Bay of Biscay in winter, but hey it’s all part of the fun and Brittany Ferries, the only operator undertaking this route from the UK, do look after you well.
After 24 hours walking around a ship, dining, sleeping, shopping more dining and several circuits on every deck, I am to say the least ready to get back into the car.
We clear customs and head out onto the open road in a healthy temperature of 21 deg C.
Leaving Santander to head west along the A67 towards Torrelavega, then due south on the Autovia Cantabria.
We have travelled this route on numerous occasions. A fantastic, quick road with the added bonus of not being a ‘Peaje’ toll payable.
As we begin to eat up the kilometres, I can feel the GT4’s eagerness to press on, steadily feeling significantly more energetic and at home being driven.
Within 60 miles of leaving the port and as darkness falls we head high into the mountains and embark on entering the first of several large tunnels through this area, the longest being in excess of 4.5km. I cannot resist the temptation midway to lower the windows, increase the revs and listen to that glorious flat six sound track exploding and echoing from the rear sports exhaust! Simply loving this car.
After another 45 minutes of travel time we decide to head to Burgos on the N-627 back roads, as this is where we intend to stay overnight.
I want to check out the Porsche dynamic lighting system to see how it performs during the twisty sections of this road which is almost traffic free.
One of the main reasons we love driving in Spain is finding new and interesting roads to explore with some spectacular scenery. Spain is so vast and varied you will always find great back roads with excellent tarmac and minimal traffic to get the best out of you and your car. Providing you stay clear of the major cities on ‘Fiesta’ weekends you won’t go far wrong.
We stay the night just outside of Burgos approximately 200km due South of Santander in a unique hostelry, a former 500 year old flour mill restored to its former glory. We eat a hearty local meal washed down with a glass or two of regional wine, before retiring for the night.
The next morning after breakfast we bid farewell to our host and head off on the next leg of the journey, topping up with 98 octane which is very reasonable priced and head onto the A1 towards Madrid.
The car is noticeably feeling more responsive now as we effortlessly notch up the kilometres, the gear change nice, positive and enjoyable, steering precise, suspension taught but not harsh and although the carbon backed race seats are fixed with no lumbar adjustment you fit snugly into them in total comfort ensuring you relax to truly appreciate this cars attributes.
A pit stop for coffee, some fuel for the car together with more amazing countryside views we approach the outskirts of Madrid and past the famous Ex F1 race circuit of Jarama. This is one of the oldest and most distinguished circuits of the country which formerly hosted the Spanish GP’s in the 60’s and 70’s but now only used for touring, sports car races and testing.
We always decide to circumnavigate Madrid on the outer ring roads and utilise a series of toll and non toll motorway sections, it is easy and fast as long as you stay on the outer R3/M50 east route around the main airport, this way the only payment you will incur on your journey South is €2.60!!
At this point the car has clocked up over 1050km as we continue. It feels comfortable and very much at home eating up the tarmac so decide to make progress for the final leg of this journey through the region of Castille La Mancha and down to Murcia.
As we pass through the city of Albacete we glance by the race circuit we will be visiting in a few weeks time taking the car on track.
A few more kilometres later the fuel warning comes on so I head for the nearest petrol station. We pull into a small town and onto a forecourt, but alas 95 octane is all that’s on offer. I ask the attendant the location of the next nearest fuel stop with 98, he is not all that sure and states the next nearest garage in our direction should be in 20km!!
As the fuel dwindles and we attempt to run on fresh air, I have no option but to put 5 litres of 95 octane in and limp to a more suitable fuel stop. A good point to remember though, that off the beaten track not every garage offers premium octane fuel.
Last leg of the journey down to Murcia is completed with ease and we finally arrive at our destination where we will be staying for several weeks. In that time and before we head back to the UK, we will have done some serious travelling around Southern Spain and given it an airing on one or two circuits.
Thoughts on the GT4 so far?
So far – I can tell you right now setting cost aside, up to date this is proving to be one of the best Porsche GT cars to drive and live with I have owned, and without doubt certainly worth the wait. I can only look forward to what more it can deliver on full power.
Without going into great detail this GT4 for me is all about being driven. For many years I have enjoyed not only Porsche but other performance models, but I have always returned and maintained a loyalty to the Stuttgart brand, owning and driving most of the entire range, old and new they provide necessary feedback to me whilst behind the wheel which never fails to present a sense of delight.
Even after the mighty power of the GT3, GT2 and turbo editions I had always said that if a larger horsepower version of the Cayman was developed with all the true ‘GT’ underpinnings, lower centre of gravity, improved down force, brakes etc, it would make a phenomenal sports car and certainly threaten the 911.
Running in – Usually for the first 1000 miles or 1600km I like to entice and respect the engine with light work, keeping it within the 3000 rpm limit, however in top gear this still equates to more than 135kph.
Everything on this model has been well designed and readily to hand, easy to read instruments which can be zoned through in a series of menus at the touch of your finger, displaying an array of technical but essential information to the drivers eye view without causing any loss of concentration, and at cruising speed the cockpit is quiet and extremely refined.
As a daily driver? – Zoning through the car’s computer, fuel efficiency is highlighting an average consumption of 27.2mpg on the trip. For a 6 cylinder engine of 3.8 litre displacement and 385hp this is not bad at all, and more or less spot on to the official Porsche combined figure of 27.4mpg.
Now that I have more than 2,000 miles on the clock, we’ll be heading out on track. Those Michelins will work far better on a warm Spanish race circuit compared to the rain the the M1 in winter!
Mike Marot is a professional driver coach and colleague of ours here at Historic Racer. More details can be found on his website here.