On these less-than-perfectly-surfaced roads, the Alfa calls up a veritable menagerie of similes. The nose hunts all over the place like my dog on a chipmunk’s scent and you feel and hear every bump in the road. The steering gets spookily light over whoop-de-do rises and hard braking has the 4C going all squirrelly. Yes, the Spider grips like a bull dog in the corners (up to 1.1 g) yet it never feels truly settled. It reminds me of the Fiat 500 Abarth, turned up to eleven.
While you can’t relax in the 4C Spider, by gawd you’ll never be bored. And it sure looks and sounds the part of a real Italian exotic. If you already have a garage full of cars, this surely would be a refreshing addition. It’s a car you’d take out for an afternoon blast to clear out the cobwebs.
Time to jump into the GT4, which by Porsche standards is a raw, track-focused special edition that only the most hardcore enthusiast will embrace. Nonetheless, after the 4C, the GT4 feels like a freakin’ limo. Powering steering. OMG. A hint of suspension compliance. Thank you. What, you’re not heading for the the ditch when I take my eyes off the road? Such opulence.
Then it all starts to sink in. The Porsche Cayman GT4 is spectacular. Its 3.8 L naturally aspirated flat-six engine, pulled from last year’s 911 Carrera S and turned 180-degrees, delivers its 385 horsepower and 310 lb-ft in an escalating rush, each peaking respectively at 7,400 rpm and 4,750. And it spits out the kind of soundtrack that brings Porsche-philes to their knees. As one of the last naturally aspirated Porsches, this one carries the banner high.
The GT4 is only available with a six-speed manual, and like the engine, this is a fab transmission. The shifter has been shortened 20 mm for quicker throws, and each gear slots home with a weight and precision perfectly paired to the clutch. Pedals are placed for heel- and-toe action, but with the Sport button pushed, auto rev-matching does it for you.
It’s above 4,000 rpm where the GT4 asserts itself as being a true GT-level Porsche. The uber-Cayman screams forward in a linear rush while remaining securely planted to the road. The electric steering is completely natural, conveying plenty of feedback, and small inputs have this mid-engine marvel slicing effortlessly through the corners.
The GT4 gets its front suspension largely intact from the 911 GT3, and it rides 30 mm lower than standard. It runs on 20-inch forged alloys, 8.5-inch wide in the front and 11-inch out back. As would be expected, the tires are staggered – P245/35ZR20 front and P295/30ZR20 rear. PASM adaptive damping is standard.
Official max lateral grip is pegged at a face-distorting 1.4 g. Didn’t get there of course, but running these lovely roads at a brisk-ish pace showed the GT4 to have the poetic balance of the Cayman while offering a greater turn of speed, crazy grip and unflappable poise. So engaging, so thrilling yet so confidence-inspiring. I never turned off the electronic nannies, but even the normal setting allows for just enough tail wagging if you provoke it enough.
The big adjustable rear wing along with the plethora of extra air intakes and 20-inch centre-lock wheels leave no doubt about the GT4’s mission. I could drive this car all day, every day until I croak.