This is it: the Cayman weve all been waiting for. The 2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 emphatically delivers the dazzling performance, precision, and poise weve always believed possible of the companys mid-engine sports car. Porsche GT model line director Andreas Preuninger calls it an evolution of the 981-series GT4 that nearly took our Best Drivers Car title four years ago. Technically, hes right. But from behind the wheel, the 718 version feels, in every way, to be so much more than that. A quick scan of the numbers supports Preuningers theory of evolution. Compared with the old GT4, power is up by 29 horses to 414 hp at 7,600 rpm, but peak torque is unchanged at 309 lb-ft. Top speed has increased by 5 mph to 188 mph, but the 4.2-second 060 time is the same. Then you come across this number: 7 minutes, 28 seconds. Thats the lap time Porsche says the 718 Cayman GT4 turned in at the legendary Nrburgring Nordschleife. This new GT4 is a massive 12 seconds quicker than its predecessor. Quite some evolution It starts with a brand-new, naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six engine. Its based on the turbocharged 3.0-liter engine from the 992 but includes a new high-strength forged crankshaft, new connecting roads, new cylinder heads with piezo injectors mounted centrally in the combustion chambers, and a valvetrain that allows the engine to rev to 8,000 rpm. The engine drives the rear wheels through the same six-speed manual transmission as the previous GT4right down to the ratiosbut the shift lever is 0.78 inch shorter than in the regular 718 Caymans, and its secured by dynamic mounts that reduce the movement of the assembly as powertrain torque loads change during acceleration and cornering. Porsche says the powertrain accounts for only a quarter of that 12-second advantage around the Nrburgring. The rest is down to the chassis. A two-mode PASM adjustable shock system is standard on the GT4, which rides 1.18 inches lower than regular 718 models. Sport mode is specifically intended for track work, stiffening the already firm suspension to sharpen the handling, improve traction out of corners, and allow higher cornering speeds. The Porsche stability and traction control algorithms have been rewritten to allow for more sensitive and precise interventions, and, as in all GT Porsches, all the nannies can be turned off for track work. Porsches torque vectoring by brake system and a mechanical limited-slip differential are also standard equipment. Read More 5 Things You May Not Know about the Porsche 911 The Ford GT MkII Is a Track Monster Supra vs. 718 Cayman vs. M2: Who Wins? Its all pretty standard fare for a GT-spec Porsche. Indeed, in terms of architecture and hardware, the new GT4s suspension is little changed from that of the previous model. So whats the secret behind that Nrburgring lap time? The new exhaust system provides a clue. Instead of the central exhaust outlet that has been a trademark of the Cayman from the beginning, the burned gases from the 718 GT4s 4.0-liter engine exit via two large-diameter outlets spaced more widely apart to allow room for the rear diffusers central venturi. The diffuser is not just there to make the GT4 look racy, insists Markus Atz, project manager of the GT model line at Porsche. When we talk about a diffuser, we mean a diffuser, he says, explaining that this one delivers 30 percent of the downforce on the rear axle with virtually no increase in drag. The diffuser, plus a redesigned rear wing that produces 20 percent more downforce, work together to deliver an additional 26 pounds of downforce at 124 mph and 268 pounds of downforce at 188 mph. At just 1.3 miles in length, Knockhill Racing Circuit, just 30 minutes outside of Edinburgh, Scotland, isnt exactly the Nrburgring Nordschleife. But it packs quite a punch, with 200 feet of elevation change, corners hiding over crests, and curbs that will pitch both inside wheels into the air if you take liberties with your line. Its the perfect place to get acquainted with the 718 Cayman GT4. Fast. First thing you notice is that, despite having the same tall gearing as the previous model (second gear will still take you past 80 mph), the 718 GT4 makes better use of the ratios than the 981, even though it has the same peak torque. Thats because the 718s torque curve climbs in almost a straight line from just over 2,250 rpm to 5,000 rpm, rather than dipping between 2,500 and 3,500 rpm as in the 981. Also, although the 718s 4.0-liter engine hits peak torque 250 rpm further up the rev range than the 981s 3.8-liter flat-six, it delivers that twist action for longer: for 1,800 rpm versus about 1,250 rpm. As in the 981, the six-speed manual transmission is a delight, the shortened lever delivering a glorious light, oily, mechanical action with a flick of the wrist. Theres an auto-blip function, activated by a button on the center console, that will automatically match revs on downshifts. If youre used to heel-and-toeing, youll probably leave it switched off, but it works well. During our Best Drivers Car testing we complained of understeer in the 981 GT4. New N1 specification Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 ultra-high-performance tires245/35 ZR20 up front, 295/30 ZR20 at the rearplus the standard torque vectoring has banished any hint of it in the 718. This new GT4 is a beautifully balanced car, the front and rear axles working in harmony through both fast and slow corners. In fact, its probably the best balanced Porsche in history, stable and progressive at the limit. This, combined with the sublime precision of the steering and the glorious crispness of the throttle response, allows you to place the GT4 exactly where you want it, exactly when you want to, and to effortlessly adjust your cornering line if needed. Knockhills fearsome Duffus Dip, where, after a third-gear right-hander on the top of a crest, the track swoops dramatically downhill into a fast left, failed to dent the GT4s extraordinary composure, even at speeds that had the Porsche experts busy keeping the rear end of their 911 GT3 RS pace cars under control. My ride in a GT4 driven by exFormula 1 driver Mark Webber, now a Porsche ambassador, was a near-religious experience. The stability and balancefor a road car on road tireswas astounding. Lets put it out there right now: The 718 Cayman GT4 might be the best casual track day car in the business, offering the best balance of price, performance, and sheer drivability. It comes as no surprise, then, that Porsche offers its mighty PCCB carbon-ceramic brakes as an option if you want to upgrade from the standard 15-inch steel rotors (not only are the PCCB rotors 1.4 inches bigger up front, and 0.3 inch bigger at the rear, but they weigh half as much as the standard brakes). You can also option sports seats and a Club Sport package that includes a steel half-cage, floor-mounted fire extinguisher, and a six-point racing harness thats compatible with the HANS (Head and Neck Support) safety system mandatory in all professional racing categories. Oh, and a PDK transmission will be available in a few months for those who really want to chase lap times. The six-speed manual is fun, say the Porsche engineers, but the PDK is fast. No one will confirm it on the record, but its whispered a PDK-equipped 718 Cayman GT4 has already lapped the Nordschleife seven to eight seconds quicker than the manual car. Its great on the track, but what really makes the 718 Cayman GT4 a truly compelling Porsche is that its terrific on the road. It feels wonderfully light and alert and has all the power you needand, in truth, can enjoy usingin a real-world environment. Its remarkably civilized, too. Yes, the ride is firm, but on the narrow, twisty, bumpy Scottish roads, with the dampers in Normal mode, there was just enough compliance to make it perfectly livable. Theres tire noise, too, but even the most luxuriously appointed 911 cant hide the fact that it runs on aggressive performance rubber. Our testers had air conditioning, cruise control, an audio system, and a 4.6-inch screen for Porsches PCM infotainment system. In short, all the accoutrement needed for a daily driver. The 718 Cayman GT4 is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in spring 2020, though the car is available to order now, priced from $100,550. Thats around the same money Porsche is expected to charge for the entry-level 992-series Carrera that should be revealed in the next few months. Which raises an interesting point: In the past, Porsche kept the Cayman firmly in the 911s shadow. But this GT4 is the first Cayman that, for someone after a tightly focused yet superbly rounded, accomplished, and livable sports car, could rightly be considered an alternative to an entry-level 911. The post 2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Review: Escaping the 911's Shadow appeared first on MotorTrend .