A GT430 & 718 GT4 Comparison (First Impressions)
Porsche Cayman 718 GT4 Clubsport (2021)
Kerb Weight: 1495kg
Power: 414 bhp; 420nm torque (20-25 bhp can be added by higher flow aftermarket exhaust swop)
Top speed: 189mph
0-62: 4.4 secs
Lotus Evora GT430 (2018)
Kerb Weight: 1299kg
Power: 430 bhp; 440nm torque
Top speed: 190mph
0-62: 3.8 secs
As mentioned previously I offered to share some initial impressions around the Cayman 718 GT4 when directly compared to the Evora GT430. My comments on the GT4 are based on 500+ miles of mixed road driving over the past 10 days, including plenty of B road blasting in good weather. The GT4 is still in the run-in period prior to the 1k mile point, so there’s been no major strain placed on the 4L flat six so far. I have had the pleasure to own my GT430 for the past 2 years and during that time I have put over 4K miles on the clock, tracking the car and long-distance touring with it across Scotland & Ireland. I try hard to avoid ‘garage queening’ and ensure cars owned get driven at every available opportunity.
To apply some objectivity, I’ve key headed first impressions as follows:
Engine. On cold starting the GT4 literally sounds like a bag of spanner’s is being dropped into the sump, which is a little disconcerting. But there again all you need to do is get in, depress the clutch and turn a rather smart electronic key! However, when warmed up there is an immediate linear response when you accelerate. It obviously feels like a quick car but you have to press on to get to the sweet spot at around 6-7k revs. The engine sound in the updated 718 GT4 is a little disappointing compared to the previous version; largely due to the flat 6 being strangled by the recently introduced EU regulated big cats & OPF filters in the stock exhaust system. The resulting noise has nowhere near the sense of theatre you get with the Evora, which is absolutely epic, even compared with the big bore super car exotics…. I’ve already been advised by those ‘in the Pork know’ to look at Akrapovic or a similar quality aftermarket back box to let the scream out and also release some more power. Inevitably quality aftermarket stuff for Porsche GT cars seems to have at least one extra 0 added to every price. Also, there will be warranty issues so that will have to wait for now.
Brakes. The carbon ceramic brakes are absolutely mega; light touch and progressive feel. They are an expensive option (£5.7k) & are probably an unnecessary over-engineered indulgence on a road car like the GT4. But they definitely look the part and there’s no brake dust! However, in reality the AP Racing steel brakes on the Evora are just as effective and also save a fair amount of weight. Overall, I would call it an even match in the braking department.
Steering. The GT4 is very precise (991.2 GT3 front end in the 718 GT4) and electric assisted. The steering wheel is a simple tactile tool and completely clear of anything bar the horn. However, in comparison it is not quite as sharp, or capable of giving as much road feel as the GT430’s hydro assisted system. The GT430 and Lotus in general definitely provides the benchmark in this crucial area!
Gearbox. The Porsche GT shifter layout is outstanding. It is a proper close ratio box, a really short shift, & the pedal size & positioning significantly reduces the margin for error when shifting fast. However, the GT4 gearing is very long (up to 80 mph is possible in 2nd gear), which many Porsche fanboys don’t like. But it just means less changing up and much greater use of 2nd & 3rd to maximise the flat six engine’s sweet spot. It is perhaps easier to use than the particularly good, but heavier feeling shift in the Evora. There is not a great deal in it to be fair and the GT430 definitely does not suffer from the long gear ratios found in the GT4.
Suspension. Chassis balance and cornering feel at speed is excellent. The GT4 is very neutral with a just a little under steer and very predictable turn-in. It is both easy and enjoyable to drive at speed. The GT430 with the Ohlins at road settings is brilliant at sucking up everything thrown at it on B roads, but it’s a track-oriented system and it takes more concentration around reading the road to avoid crashing over bumps. Both cars are low slung. A front splitter scrape alert needs to be applied equally.
The GT4 comes with smart 20” rims all round and like the GT430 is fitted with Cup2 Tyres. So, there is mega grip when they are warmed up in fine dry weather, but dodgy as f—k when it is cold and wet.
Cabin Ergonomics. The 918 carbon bucket seats not only look great but are extremely comfortable. By direct comparison they are far better than the Exige style carbon buckets in the 410 & 430. For a start they have height & tilt adjustment. The recline angle and lumbar support is excellent on longer journeys, no matter what size you are (I am 6’2” & 15 stone). The Mrs actually went to sleep in the passenger seat for over an hour on the drive back to N. Ireland, which was great; (plus no fingernails constantly in the dashboard). She has never managed to even get a little drowsy in the GT430. The GT4’s driving ergonomics, dials, key information, multimedia system etc. has the same layout as the GT3. Frankly, it is brilliant and it’s all streets ahead of the GT430 and I haven’t even mentioned cupholders! Ease of access, getting in/out is similar for both cars. Perhaps the Emira will move this aspect up to a significantly better level. It will need to because Porsche have absolutely nailed performance car ergonomics with their GT cars in my view.
Build Quality. The overall GT4 build quality is excellent, no leaking door rubber or uneven panel gaps. Although the mass produced composite plastic splitter, front intake parts & diffuser have nowhere near the quality, or the visual appeal of the high-grade carbon parts on the GT430. The GT4 has a particularly low silhouette & centre of gravity, this is especially noticeable at the back of the car, (no tall V6 over the back axle), but it is strange and unusual to not have direct access to the engine bay. It takes about 5-10 minutes removing trim and panels to get at the GT4 lump.
Storage. There’s real German ingenuity on display over storage. There is a serious amount of practical storage space at front and back of the car. Literally every inch of space in the car is used effectively. The GT4 edges out the 2:0 configured GT430 in terms of luggage capacity. This makes it a very practical touring car for 2 people.
General Impressions. Non car people generally look at Porsche offerings as “grown up” cars. That said, because they are everywhere and look very similar to the uninitiated, the GT4 definitely does not draw as much attention as the Evora. As a first time Porsche owner I’ve discovered a number of ownership idiosyncrasies. It literally feels like you are joining a cult where you are expected to be pay for absolutely everything (and be grateful for the privilege)! Decent options will add at least £25k to the base price when ordering GT cars. Also servicing costs are extremely high. As an example, even activating the inbuilt tracker with vodaphone is double what you pay for a private contract with the same company. That said to date my local Porsche dealer in Belfast has been extremely efficient, proactive and helpful thus far. Even though the car was not purchased from them. The Porsche dealer network & wider ecosystem is mature and substantial in my neck of the woods. Regrettably Lotus no longer have a dealer or authorised maintenance facility anywhere in Ireland. If I need to get anything done to the 430 in future, it entails an expensive 8 hour round trip across the Irish Sea to Parks in Scotland.
Track performance & utility. TBC in a future update. I suspect the 200kg weight differential, a little more power & the Ohlins dampers will give the GT430 a definite advantage on track; particularly with longer more open circuits. But there’s probably not so much in it on short, technical circuits.
Price comparisons. Fully specced with all the sexy options the GT4 comes in at around £100k. The GT430 was around £113-120k when new depending on spec. GT4 resale values are extremely healthy for now. GT430 residuals are getting better and its rarity should help in the longer term.
Finally, I’ve had a lot of fun already in a very short time in the GT4, but there’s absolutely no way that I’d part with the 430. For me, the GT430, like the Exige 430 Cup & the Elise Cup 260 represents a pinnacle in the now dated pre-Geely Lotus hard core “for the driver on road or track, all day long, keep it simple with basic creature comforts” approach. For the small but enthusiastic niche of petroleum driven purists it was great to be part of that heritage while it lasted. That said I fully understand that Lotus as a business needs to move on sharply in order to be commercially competitive on a global level. I hope that in a similar vein to Porsche they continue to find a way to cater for niche enthusiasts by building exciting track-oriented cars. I hope that all this comment does not sound, or come across as pompous. It is not a case of going over to the dark side! Obviously this is just a first impression being in the fortunate position of being able to drive two similar in approach, epic to drive, but still quite different cars. 😎