We Drive the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport
Porsche’s latest factory race car is solid, though mind the suspension setup
SOUTH HAVEN, Michigan—It doesn't look much different from the standard Porsche Cayman GT4, at least at first glance. Yes, the factory-built race car is slammed to the ground and carries safety pins on the body work, but a wannabe owner could easily make those changes to their road car. The 3.8-liter, flat-six engine in the Cayman GT4 Clubsport is virtually unchanged, developing the same horsepower and torque as its license plate-carrying sibling. You even use a standard key to start it, and the lock and unlock buttons on that key still function. Yes, those are indeed power window and mirror switches you spot. But explore the new GT4 Clubsport in greater depth and you begin to understand Porsche's latest addition to its customer race-car portfolio. Driving the GT4 CS helps get your head around the concept, which is just what we did at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan.
Base price for the track-only Cayman GT4 CS is $165,000, including import duty and shipping. Purchasing is done directly through Porsche Motorsport, not your local dealer. Options with our privately-owned test car include a $3,900 Recaro racing seat upgrade (replacing the standard OMP seat), a $4,200 air jack system, and a $9,500 spare parts package, giving buyers four extra 18-inch forged wheels and two complete sets of brake rotors and pads. The twice-the-cost-of-the-Cayman-GT4-road car entry point is certainly quite a jump, but the dissection of numbers quickly escapes your brain once you're in the driver's seat and out on the track.
Climbing into that lone seat isn't exactly easy. The standard FIA-spec roll cage is extremely beefy and the steering wheel isn't removable. But once inside you get the road car's rake and reach-adjustable steering column, a rare but welcomed extra on a competition machine. Missing from the footwell is a clutch pedal, as the GT4 CS forgoes the six-speed manual gearbox for a dual-clutch PDK transmission with the same number of ratios. It's a base Cayman transmission, minus the seventh gear, and it gets a bespoke mechanical limited-slip differential. Gearshifts are handled via the 911 GT3-sourced transmission selector in the center console or the carbon-fiber paddles attached to the Alcantara steering wheel.
After only a few corners, it's clear the Cayman GT4 CS isn't just a modified street car—it's a proper race car. Grip is plentiful, at least once the Pirelli racing slicks warm up fully. The electric power steering is positive and trustworthy, filling you in on exactly what the car is traversing. As you push harder, you learn that understeer is pretty much nonexistent—a welcomed change from the road version, at least at first. On the other hand, it seems Porsche Motorsport chose an as-shipped chassis setup that's both on the stiff side and quite tail happy.
The 911 GT3 Cup race car-sourced suspension is fully adjustable including ride height and anti-roll bar stiffness but the dampers are fixed. Helping out is a stability-control system tuned for the track, living dormant in the background as long as you keep your slip angles in check. Keeping that oversteer from getting ugly takes quick hands at higher speeds, especially over bumps. The stability-control system is relaxed enough that you don't want to rely on it to save you from any mistakes. We softened the rear sway bar after a few runs, helping dull some of the oversteer, but we still feel the standard setup is too stiff and the car struggled over bumpy sections at Gingerman. The issue should be fixable with some chassis tweaks. Slowing down the GT4 CS for corners is of far less concern due to the mammoth steel brakes, also stolen from 911 GT3 Cup. A 12-position knob on the dash adjusts the ABS system from nearly-off to very aggressive intervention, to suit varying track conditions and tires.
Push the GT4 on the circuit and it is evident that Porsche's latest race car is far more about its race-prepped chassis and strong brakes versus straight-line speed. The GT4 CS is by no means slow but it's only 88-pounds lighter than the road car. The changes to the engine consist only of slightly greater oil capacity and modified catalytic converters for the racing environment. The total lack of sound deadening tricks you into thinking the engine is something special but it lacks the sparkle and powerful pull to redline you experience with the proper GT engines found in the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS. It's a minor complaint as the overall GT4 CS package is fantastic—and this is an extremely quick track car, easily faster than a GT3 or GT3 RS road car. Additionally, the PDK gearbox is a perfect fit, with lightning-fast gear changes and giving the ability to use your left foot for braking at all times. We just wish Porsche fitted shorter gear ratios, a complaint we also lodge at the Cayman GT4 road car.
The Cayman GT4 Clubsport's main focus is offering a less expensive and more road-based factory race car for various competition series around the world. The 911 GT3 Cup has matured into a faster, more technically advanced race car. With these advancements, costs have increased. This financial transition makes room for the GT4 CS. It's a fantastic car and it will be even better after some fiddling by a proper race team to set it up for each specific track. Porsche claims the GT4 CS is a car that an enthusiast or gentleman racer can purchase and then work with their local Porsche dealership for maintenance and servicing. Outside of the chassis setup, it might be right. The fitment of stability control as well as a large number of production-based parts surely broadens the focus of the car to a wider range of buyers, making it a car that's not just for professional racers. If you have the means—and a truck and trailer along with a chassis setup connection—the Cayman GT4 Clubsport might be the perfect entry into the world of Porsche factory race cars.
Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Specifications
|Engine:||3.8L DOHC 24-valve flat-6/385 hp @ 7,400 rpm, 310 lb-ft @ 4,750-6,000 rpm|
|Transmission:||6-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Layout:||2-door, 1-passenger, mid-engine, RWD coupe|
|L x W x H:||174.7 X 78.8 X 49.8 in|
|0-60 MPH:||4.0 sec (est)|
|Top Speed:||183 mph|