The Porsche 911 recipe has always been simple: an iconic teardrop silhouette that possesses a powerful boxer-six engine in the rear. However, while the core recipe is unchanged, the current generation of Porsche 911 is experiencing a revolution, whether we like it or not.
Particularly, the latest Porsche ‘991’ 911 GT3 is the farthest departure from the classic Porsche that we’ve ever seen. Gone is the rewarding manual transmission for a 7-speed PDK dual clutch paddle shift gearbox. Additional sophistication including the novel rear-wheel-steering makes the latest GT3 the heaviest as well.
As the Porsche GT3 has become more complicated, the simplicity and purity of the weekend drive is somewhat lost. The latest PDK-only Porsche 911 GT3 is undoubtedly the quickest GT3 yet, but diehard Porsche fans will tell you that the previous ‘997’ GT3 was the high water mark. Fans appreciated Porsche’s old-fashioned stubbornness for retaining the 6-speed manual when rivals like Ferrari and Lamborghini exclusively offered the sequential automatic gearbox. Simply said, driving enthusiasts savor the experience and tactility of rowing through the gears themselves.
Within the heart of the 2009 Porsche ‘997’ ‘MK2’ GT3 lies a 3.8 liter boxer-six engine producing 435 horsepower, 317 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 8400 rpm redline. The mighty ‘997’ GT3 catapults from 0-60 mph (96km/h) in just 4.0 seconds and will continue to accelerate up to a top speed of 194 mph (312 km/h).
Stopping power to bring the 3,075 lbs. (1,395 kg) sports car to a halt is handled by enormous six piston calipers biting into 14.98-inch rotors at the front. Four-piston calipers grab 13.780-inch rotors in the rear.
Porsche’s legendary test driver Walter Röhrl gave the package his stamp of approval when he lapped the ‘997’ 911 GT3 at the Nurburgring in 7 minutes and 40 seconds.
Unfortunately, Porsche no longer makes the ‘997’ 911 GT3. To fill that void, Porsche has recreated the raw, no-frills driving experience in the form of the new Porsche Cayman GT4. Could the new Porsche Cayman GT4 be everything the original Porsche ‘997’ 911 GT3 used to be?
It sounds ridiculous to compare the little brother Porsche Cayman to the 911 when the standard Cayman only offers a puny 2.7-liter flat-six. That said, some have argued that the Porsche Cayman’s mid-engine platform might actually be inherently more capable than the 911, but Porsche intentionally gave the Cayman less power in order to seal its 911-beating potential.
Now, Porsche has apparently decided to finally unleash the potential of the Cayman with the new GT4. The 2016 Cayman GT4 boasts a 3.8 liter flat-six producing 385 horsepower that is directly taken from the 911 Carrera S. What’s more, instead of the PDK dual clutch or the current standard 911’s 7-speed manual gearbox, the 3.8-liter in the Cayman GT4 is mated to the pleasantly familiar six-speed manual transmission.
The 3.8 liter engine isn’t the only thing the Cayman GT4 raided from the 911 parts bin. The GT4 has also taken the suspension, steering, and brake setup from its big brother Porsche 911 GT3. Even though the Cayman GT4 is fitted with the heavy duty 911 GT3 upgrades and hardware, Porsche confirmed that the Cayman GT4 3.8 will only weigh 2955 lbs. (1,340 kg), which is less than 100 lbs. (45 kg) heavier than the standard Cayman. More importantly, the Cayman GT4 weighs 200 lbs. (90 kg) less than the ‘991’ 911 GT3!
By the numbers, especially when it comes down to power output, the 385 horsepower Cayman GT4 is clearly outclassed by the 435 horsepower ‘997’ GT3. The Cayman GT4 accelerates from 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.3 seconds and reaches a top speed of 183 mph (299 km/h), which makes the 997 GT3 both quicker and faster than the hardcore Cayman.
However, the Porsche ‘997’ 911 GT3 loses to the new Cayman GT4 with a 120 lbs. (54 kg) weight disadvantage. Also, let’s not forget that the Cayman is running all the latest suspension and brakes hardware from the current ‘991’ GT3.
You get the point. The new Porsche Cayman GT4 and the ‘997’ 911 GT3 are closely matched. What you don’t realize is that at the Nurburgring, considered the most challenging and difficult race circuit for both man and machine, Porsche confirmed that the Cayman GT4 completed a lap in 7 minutes 40 seconds. The lap time is freakishly identical to the time set by the 997 GT3. We are literally splitting hairs!
So which should you take home? Well, let’s talk about pricing and accessibility. The Porsche Cayman GT4 will start at $85,595. However, the Cayman GT4 will not be officially available on the market until the summer of 2015. Even then, expect a very long wait-list for this lovely new machine. In the meantime, we found a Porsche ‘997’ 911 GT3 with 19,676 miles (31,700 km) on the odometer with a starting bid of $85,000 and a buy-it-now asking price of $90,000 (check out the eBay Motors listing here). The asking price for the GT3 may be higher, but you can bring it home tomorrow.
Whether we look at the performance figures, or the price tag, there is no clear choice between the brand-new Porsche Cayman GT4 or a used Porsche (997) 911 GT3 other than individual preference. On that note, I would go for the ‘997’ 911 GT3 every single time. Even amongst the company of Porsches, there is no substitute for a 911.
Poll: Which Porsche GT Model Would You Get?