Cut to the chase
Wheels Australia Magazine|June 2020
THE LONG-AWAITED CAYMAN GT4 FACES THE ULTIMATE TEST: UP AGAINST THE CLOCK, THE ICONIC 911 CARRERA AND MAINLAND AUSTRALIA’S GREATEST DRIVE LOOP
ANDY ENRIGHT

CALL IT the remnants of the cultural cringe: that belief that whatever we produce in Australia, Europe does it better. Its reach surprised me when I arrived Down Under in 2013. The Euro view of Australians is of can-do, salt-flecked superheroes, refreshingly shorn of neuroses. Truths, as ever, often lay elsewhere.

I was minded of this internalised inferiority complex when the motoring desk was discussing great driving roads. Many colleagues could name the iconic routes in Europe, but looked askance when I mentioned that certain Aussie roads were just as good, if not better. I’ve never driven anywhere that approaches the Targa roads of Tassie, and on mainland Australia there was a drive that I’d champion as easily having the measure of Romania’s Transfagarasan Highway, the road Jeremy Clarkson confidently pronounced the best in the world. Its location? The Victorian high country.

Regular readers of Wheels will know that the roads around the mountain resorts of Mount Hotham and Falls Creek are some of our go-to choices when we’re looking to stretch the legs of some serious performance cars. Link those two hill routes with the forested crest of Tawonga Gap to the north and the dementedly twisty Omeo Highway and the montane Bogong High Plains in the south and you have a 245km loop that delivers every combination of corner, surface and grade any keen driver could ask for.

To do such a circuit justice, we needed something elevated a long way above the plane of the ordinary. Porsche’s boxfresh Cayman GT4 seemed about perfect. A pure, normally aspirated coupe with a 4.0-litre flat-six, the innate balance of a mid-mounted engine, rear-drive and a manual gearbox is a recipe that seems a bespoke fit for this route, the Alpine Ring. That would normally be more than enough, but this time we also brought company in the shape of its big brother, the 911 Carrera. Why have one ‘best sports car in the world’, when you can bring two?

There’s a $29,700 gulf between the apex of Cayman ownership and the bottom rung of the 911 ladder, but throw in the options prices on our test cars and that blows out to a hefty $54,370 gap. Most of that options spend is typical press car dress-up; paint, carbon parts, better lights, stereos, trims and such like. Both cars carry the must-have chrono package and sports seat options and come with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as standard. Neither has carbon discs. And, after spending a few minutes in both, neither seems a candidate for a cross-shop.

The Cayman feels claustrophobic, raw and highly strung. The jutting underbite of its front splitter has to be nursed obliquely onto drop kerbs and speed humps, while its engine chunters along at its resting 3000rpm lope with all the musicality of my Indesit on an eco cycle. Go any lower than three grand and the bass note turns your spleen to puree. Jump from here into the 911 and it feels as if you’ve landed in a Bentley Continental. It’s airy and plush. The controls feel supremely slick, as if each input is luxuriating in an oleaginous bath of steamy fractional distillates. The engine whirs remotely, and the knurled metal controls contrast with the plastic touch points of the junior sibling. The 911 feels an entire generation fresher. Largely because it is.

The Ovens valley offers one of the few opportunities on the loop to ease back and take in the scenery. I’m in the Cayman, with editor Inwood ahead in the Carrera. The road tracks the Ovens river, its path delineated by tree species: the occasional stand of poplars, willows and river red gums. A seemingly impenetrable wall of mountainside rises ahead at Smoko, climbing 1500m above you to that most alpine of Aussie peaks, the 1922m summit of Mount Feathertop. And yes, in case you were wondering, the village was so called because it was here that the gold prospectors would stop to take stock of the task ahead and have a smoke.

On the fringes of Harrietville, the driving instantly changes. Head past the Tronoh dredge pool, where the 167-metre long ‘Tronoh Monster’ sifted for gold at the base of the local quartz reefs, and the road abruptly turns left and climbs hard. There’s no gentle ease-in. The 911 squats onto its broad haunches and goes, its 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six delivering peak torque of 450Nm anywhere from 1900 to 5000rpm whereas the Cayman needs to be wrung round to 5000rpm to deliver its 420Nm quota. In the meantime, the 911’s dual-clutch transmission blat-blats seamlessly through its eight ratios, receding effortlessly.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM WHEELS AUSTRALIA MAGAZINEView All

Next BMW M2 Gets Set To Rip

New G87-Gen M2 will remain rwd, and pave the way for an M2 gran coupe and fiery full-fat M1 series

4 mins read
Wheels Australia Magazine
September 2021

Car Vs SUV Vs UTE

Exactly what are the real-world dynamic drawbacks of choosing an suv or dual-cab ute over a small car? We grab six vehicles, a bunch of scared-looking witches’ hats and book an entire proving ground to find out

10+ mins read
Wheels Australia Magazine
October 2021

INSIDER TRADING

SUV WITH AN INTERIOR THAT’S ON THE MONEY

3 mins read
Wheels Australia Magazine
October 2021

REMOTE DIAL UP

SEVEN DRIVE MODES; HOW MANY WILL YOU USE?

3 mins read
Wheels Australia Magazine
October 2021

MEASURING STICK

A PAIR OF FAMILIAR SUV FACES BRING ADVANCED NEW SIX-CYLINDER ENGINES TO A FIERCE UNDER-BONNET BATTLE

10 mins read
Wheels Australia Magazine
October 2021

ACDelco moves on old Holden turf

GM SUBSIDIARY ACDELCO MOVES IN TO TAKE A BITE OUT OF WHAT’S LEFT OF THE ONCE-MIGHTY LION BRAND

2 mins read
Wheels Australia Magazine
October 2021

Semi-conductor shortage critical

SUPPLY ISSUES FOR CRUCIAL SEMI-CONDUCTORS ARE CAUSING MAJOR PRODUCTION DISRUPTIONS FOR THE WORLD’S LARGEST CAR MAKERS

4 mins read
Wheels Australia Magazine
October 2021

TwinTest

THIS MONTH’S NEWCOMER TAKES ON THE CLASS BENCHMARK

5 mins read
Wheels Australia Magazine
October 2021

LEXUS CT200h

ADR85 CALLS TIME ON A CAR THAT WAS NEVER LEXUS’S FINEST HOUR

2 mins read
Wheels Australia Magazine
October 2021

Shifting France into Ghia

RENAULT TURNED TO ITALY IN THE QUEST TO CREATE AN IMAGE-BUILDER

2 mins read
Wheels Australia Magazine
October 2021
RELATED STORIES

2022 Porsche 911 GT3

There’s so much more to the new GT3 than its raw speed.

2 mins read
Motor Trend
November 2021

Sweet Dreams

The evolution of desire

5 mins read
Flying
August 2021

WITHOUT ITS ROADSTER, PORSCHE MIGHT NOT EXIST TODAY

That was the headline on a New York Times story published on January 20, 1996, detailing the German marque’s effort to turn around its finances and reinvent the way it had built cars for more than 40 years.

10+ mins read
Motor Trend
July 2021

Porsche Design Acer Book RS: This stylish, blazingly fast laptop lives up to its name

The detachable display and 360-degree hinge of the original Porsche Design Book One are gone, now replaced by sheer speed.

10+ mins read
PCWorld
March 2021

BEST OF TIMES, WORST OF TIMES

THAT CRAZY YEAR IN WHICH A SMALLER FIELD MADE THINGS HARDER

10+ mins read
Motor Trend
March 2021

4 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4

I could be blindfolded and tell you I was driving a Porsche

3 mins read
Motor Trend
March 2021

7 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe

Forget physics, Porsche’s uber-SUV is right at home at Best Driver’s Car

3 mins read
Motor Trend
March 2021

5 Chevrolet Corvette Z51

The new mid-engine layout places Chevy in exotic car territory

3 mins read
Motor Trend
March 2021

MINE'S THE PORSCHE - ON TEST // ELAN GT6

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE BADGE: WHY PORSCHE BECAME INVOLVED IN THE DESIGN OF ELAN’S NEW FLAGSHIP

10+ mins read
Yachting World
December 2020

The Porsche Design Acer Book RS brings sports-car flair to the laptop

With a name like that, it has a reputation to uphold.

3 mins read
PCWorld
December 2020