Small, light, uncorrupted by gadgets, and honest. Both the 914-6 and the Cayman GT4 might not be the most powerful of the most focused Porsches, but my do they deliver the goods. Enough power in a perfectly balanced chassis is a recipe which will always go far. Fifty years ago, Porsche began developing a six-cylinder mid-engined road car, and the latest Cayman GT4 carries that flag forward with five decades of innovation behind it.
The 3,338 units of the 914/6 top model came directly from Zuffenhausen from 1969 to 1972 took the two-liter flat-six from a 911T and placed it further ahead in a shorter, wider body. The result: a car that provided superior driving dynamics which is available again in the Cayman GT4 and its open-top sibling, the Boxster Spyder. These cars might not have the wildest statistics, but the driving experience they deliver is second to none.
Massive turbochargers and four wheel-drive aren’t necessary when the car’s balance is perfect and the power is just enough to generate a little wheelspin at the ragged edge. By keeping the overhangs short and placing the bulk of mass in the middle of the car, the polar moment is reduced and the willingness to change direction is increased.
Without the delay or lumpy delivery of a turbocharged motor, these two gems provide the scream, response, and linearity one needs to find the edge and dance on it. The driver and the passenger sit “closer to the machine,” as Andreas Preuninger puts it poetically. For anyone who’s grown accustomed to the thrills and urgency a naturally-aspirated, high-revving, perfectly balanced sports car can provide, nothing compares. “We build both cars for true fans, for racers and purists who have waited for these models and whom we don’t need to persuade of the benefits of the mid-engine concept,” emphasizes Andreas Preuninger.
Not that the newest Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder are lacking in horsepower. With 420 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque from the naturally-aspirated four-liter, there’s more than enough. Yet, grunt is never the highlight of these cars; the sublime balance, outrageous grip from a lightweight chassis derived from a GT3, and newly developed tires from Michelin and Dunlop make this car accessible and confidence-inspiring. “Thanks to the modern suspension kinematics and the high grip of the tires, mid-engine sports cars like the GT4 or Spyder drive like they’re from another planet, even without vehicle stability control systems activated,” says Markus Atz, project manager for motorsport GT street vehicles. Not even the most powerful, grippiest, stat-heavy supercar, can provide the same sense of immersion and excitement. These gems provide a timeless experience—one best appreciated by the hardcore, the skilled, and the thrill-seeking.