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The 2020 Porsche Cayman GT4 Is a Purist’s Dream

If you want turbos or an automatic (for now), hit the road, bub.

At last, the all-new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 is here! Short of the new Toyota Supra or the forthcoming mid-engined Corvette, we can’t think of a more anticipated sports car of late, and after endless speculation, tons of rumors, frenzied spy shots, and late-night debates among Automobile staffers, the newest junior member of the Porsche GT family ticks all the right boxes.

For starters, it packs an all-new 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six. That’s right, in the era where only 10 percent of 911 variants are naturally aspirated, and 100 percent of the Cayman/Boxster lineup is turbocharged, the free-breathing Cayman GT4 (and its mechanically identical 2020 Boxster Spyder sibling) stands alone. The sublime first-gen GT4 pulled power from a 3.8-liter, 385-hp naturally aspirated six sourced from the 991.1 Carrera S, so there’s precedent for this 4.0-liter model. The lineage of the powertrain is a bit more muddled this time, though, as Porsche claims this is a completely new engine and not at all related to the wild 4.0-liter in the 991.2 GT3.

Porsche tells us that this new powerplant is based on the 9A2 generation of engines that power the soon-to-be-replaced 991.2 Carreras. This is quite a leap from the regular 9A2, however, considering all 991.2s from base Carrera through Carrera GTS pack the same 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six. At minimum, this new engine has had the turbos and attendant plumbing removed, its displacement enlarged by a full liter, and been packed with a new crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods, valvetrain, air intakes, and cylinder heads. Against this work, it was allegedly too costly and complex to make the GT3’s 4.0-liter work here, which is hard to imagine. Regardless, that impressive build sheet allows for an 8,000-rpm redline, higher than the 992-generation 911’s.

As to why the engineers in Flacht, where Porsche’s race cars and GT road cars are developed, stuck with natural aspiration, GT boss Andreas Preuninger says it’s sticking to its guns. “We believe in [these] engines and in hard work. There’s always a way and we will continue going the naturally aspirated route for GT cars. The right way is not always the easy way.” Alright then.

A total of 414 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque are sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission sourced from the current 718 GTS. Porsche admits it has future plans to bring the snappy PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox to the GT4, but for now, you’ll need to shift it yourself or find another car. Performance is strong, with the zero-to-60-mph run taking just 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 188 mph.

There’s also a whole paddock’s worth of handling hardware to go along with the power. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with active dampers is standard, dropping the GT4 1.2 inches lower than the regular 718 Cayman. For the true track rats, the suspension allows for manual camber, toe, ride-height, and anti-roll-bar adjustments. It might not share the same engine as the GT3, but as a consolation prize, it plucks the front axle and brakes from big brother, offering either 15.0-inch iron rotors or a set of ceramics that measure 16.1 inches in the front and 15.3 inches in the rear. Considering this a bit of a purist machine, it only makes sense the rear differential is mechanical only, though it has the trick Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) functionality. More to the point, Porsche usually reserves its active, electronically controlled differential for cars equipped with PDK.

Aesthetically, it’s a refreshed last-gen GT4, now wearing aggressive variations of the current 718 bodywork—essentially what we pictured in our mind prior to its premiere. However, those good looks aren’t just for show; according to Preuninger, the updated rear wing and front diffuser help the car generate 50 percent more downforce than the last-gen model. It also doesn’t hurt that the wing and front diffuser are manually adjustable.

We’re in love, but our bank accounts are bracing for impact. The 2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 starts at $100,450, a sizeable $16,000 jump over the previous car. Of course, this is also a more cohesive product, with more specific engineering and bespoke componentry. Order books are open now, with deliveries scheduled to begin next spring.

READ MORE: The 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder Is One Bad-Ass Boxster