As much as we love technology and all that it affords in new automobiles today (especially Adaptive Cruise Control, Apple CarPlay, and Torque Vectoring), we certainly lament the ongoing decline of the manual transmission. Even though dual-clutch automatics are faster at shifting than any human skill can attain, it just takes out a lot of the fun of the three-pedal setup where the driver is far more in tune with what the vehicle is doing.
Well, Porsche still cares since their latest 718 Cayman GT4 only comes with a glorious 6-speed manual transmission. And get this, the GT4 gets the potent and sonorous naturally-aspirated flat-six engine Porschephiles love so much, as do we. So, it essentially takes some travel backwards to make the make the 718 Cayman GT4 go forward better than ever.
The engine is a very welcomed non-turbo 4.0-liter flat six-cylinder engine that throws down 414 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque, a little bit less than the stock Porsche 911 Carrera. The most important part of the equation is that the GT4 uses an old-school stick shift (Porsche manual transmissions are positively sublime).
There's no disclosure about 0-60 times, but since the GT4 is really a driver-focused model, the Stuttgart automaker decided to give it what drivers love best, ultimate control through roping your own gears. We laud them for the decision that goes against the tide of the current trend to drop manual transmissions. Ferrari, gone. Lamborghini, gone. Porsche rocks.
There's also a raucous 8,000-rpm redline for the flat-six, a mechanical limited-slip differential, and a specially-made sport exhaust system just for the GT4. And because this is a track-capable car, you can even manually adjust details like toe (distance between the front and rear of the tires), camber (inward or outward tilt of the tires), and even the ride height. The GT4 also benefits from the powerful front brakes pulled from the far pricier 911 GT3.
Body treatment comes in the form of a special kit for the GT4 that includes a huge spoiler and bigger air intakes in front and on the sides of the car. It also gets twin round exhaust pipes moved outward, versus the center-mounted versions on the turbo-four 718 Caymans. The whole look is noticeably more aggressive, but it's all to enhance the GT4's downforce and aerodynamics.
Inside the GT4 is a sporty but still very well-crafted interior with tons of Alcantara suede everywhere, including the dash, steering wheel, gearshift knob, and the big sport seats. The shifter is a short-throw for quick gear changes, and the seat belts match the body color.
The 2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 will go on sale next spring at a starting price of just under six-figures ($99,200 base MSRP) along with a $1,250 destination fee. Tack on more packages and customization options, and that price will climb fast as with all Porsches. Our take would be to go stock, save some money, and put those savings towards track time.