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718 Cayman GT4 Put Through Its Paces at Knockhill

More power, more aerodynamic grip, more performance, and more usability—we’ve heard all of the new Cayman GT4’s strengths already. However, few automotive journalists can test those claims like Steve Sutcliffe. Though he might not look like a superlative athlete, the man is arguably the best driver among his peers. Ten years ago, he was given the chance to test a Honda F1 car, and was only several tenths off James Rossiter, the Honda test driver roughly half his age.

Here, Sutcliffe uses all his strengths to illuminate the incremental changes that make this car 12 seconds a lap faster around the Nurburging than the 981 GT4. Despite the car weighing 80 pounds more and retaining the same frustratingly long gear ratios, the 718 is still quicker in a straight line.

Watch how urgently the car fires off the corner at 4:38. There’s an easily accessible engine at work here.

Based upon the motor found in the rear of the latest Carrera S, the 718’s new 4.0-liter motor makes 414 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque. Though that latter figure is the same as with the outgoing 3.8-liter engine, the added displacement provides a broader powerband, which helps camouflage the car’s long gearing. With the driver more often in the optimal rev range, the new chassis is more easily exploited. 

The steering, brakes, and suspension are closely related to those found in the GT3, and Sutcliffe immediately recognizes the changes. That sharpened steering is a real asset through Knockhill’s blind entries, which Sutcliffe attacks with the commitment you’d expect from him. 

A big rear wing, an underbody diffuser, and a bigger splitter creates 269 pounds of downforce at 188 miles per hour—nothing to sniff at. Not only is this car more incisive, but added stability—a little extra composure is always nice over the crests—is another feature which goads a driver to push that much harder. 

The improved powertrain, better composed chassis, and better exhaust note make it even more thrilling to drive than its predecessor, which was a firecracker itself. Incremental changes in every department make the new 718 Cayman GT4 a dependable, confidence-inspiring car which can soak up bumps, stay on the pipe, and encourage the driver to attack. That combination of qualities—not just the bump in power—is what is responsible for its incredible 7:28 lap around the ‘Ring.

Incidentally, that’s the same as the lap set by the 997 GT3 RS 4.0. Though tire technology has come a long way in ten years, having the least expensive member of the GT family set the same lap as the former heavyweight is a testament to Porsche’s unyielding search for incremental improvements in every department.

Composure, mid-engine balance, and great engine response—what’s not to like?

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Porsche 911 R driven: the gallery

We really don’t get bored of looking at the new Porsche 911 R. It’s a stunning looking machine and, as Lee finds out in the new issue, one that has managed to live up to its unbelievable hype.

Our exclusive first drive of the car in the latest issue not only provided a scintillating drive, it also produced some stunning photos (backed up by Scotland’s equally impressive scenery), so we’ve decided to share some previously unseen shots with you. Enjoy:

Porsche at Knockhill race circuit. Photo: James Lipman / jameslipman.com

Porsche at Knockhill race circuit. Photo: James Lipman / jameslipman.com

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Porsche at Knockhill race circuit. Photo: James Lipman / jameslipman.com

Porsche at Knockhill race circuit. Photo: James Lipman / jameslipman.com

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Porsche at Knockhill race circuit. Photo: James Lipman / jameslipman.com

To read our first drive of the new Porsche 911 R in full, pick up Total 911 issue 141 in store. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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Duke’s Pass, Stirling, Scotland

We’re up north this month in one our favourite countries: Scotland. We’re in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, driving the Duke’s Pass.

Strictly speaking, it connects the tourist stop-off of Aberfoyle with Kilmahog, 16 miles away towards Callender, but the section we’re focusing on is the first six and a half miles from Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine.

The route’s origins stem from the Duke of Menteith wanting to get around his estate easier, leading to him building a pass in the 19th century. In the Twenties, local roads were reclassified.

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The A81 was decided as the main route from Callendar to Aberfoyle, and the A821 the quieter back road. Shortly after this, the Forestry Comission acquired the land, and it was opened to the general public after beefing it up to cope with the tourist traffic created after Walter Scott’s ‘Lady of the Lake’ opus about Loch Katrine.

In terms of character, it basically is the antithesis to a motorway. Pick a direction, bend angle and altitude, and the Duke’s pass pretty much has it. Starting from Aberfoyle, it passes the large Forest Visitor Centre in a series of rapid, rising sweeping bends.

After this, the altitude climb lessens – a little – and sight lines open out as we arc through bracken-lined hillsides. On the right, there’s a turnoff for the picturesque Three Lochs Forest Drive; a six-mile-long route through the forest and the promised Lochs.

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We press on, and through fantastic, close by scenery we eventually appear lochside to Loch Achray. Follow the signs off the A821 to Lock Katrine, and gently tootle to see what Walter Scott was on about.

Locals probably know every inch, and where to push past tourists or vomiting travel-sick passengers, but as a route to enjoy a 911, this is fabulous. There’s so much to work the vehicle against, you really will get a good workout, arcing one way then the other, repeating and repeating. Due to the road surface and all those bends, you’ll be at legal and sensible speeds too.

Get the Lady of the Lake boat to Loch Katrine and ride a bike 13 miles back down to the pier you started from – if you can leave that 911!

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