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Porsche - Cayman Country

Cayman Country

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Cars with the GT badge have always offered a blend of street manners and track capability that few others can match. In Scotland 
the Cayman gives free rein to all its strengths.

The rough beauty of nature and the pure performance of the Cayman GT4 complement each other perfectly in the Scottish Highlands.

The day will be hot. In every sense of the word. On the outskirts of Edinburgh in Scotland, the thermometer shows 35 degrees Celsius, the humidity is stifling, and the air is dense with moisture. Then we rendezvous with this Cayman GT4 in racing yellow—a promise of great things even when standing still. It is a promise to be kept as we set off on a tour of the Highlands.

We cruise over the Forth road bridge, gawking at the enormous foundations being constructed for the new crossing that will open next year. Even in the hot season, Scotland is verdant and lush, the countryside is all deep-greens, and the M90 motorway gently sways a route northward, with the GT4 proving to be far more relaxed than you’d ever imagine a track-focused car would be—yet that is nothing out of the ordinary for a Porsche. Cars with the RS, Clubsport, or GT badge have always offered a blend of street manners and track capability that few others can match. In Scotland the Cayman gives free rein to all its strengths.

At the moment there’s no opportunity to even come close to revving up the 283 kW (385 hp) six-cylinder boxer engine. The M90 must be the road with the greatest density of speed cameras in Europe—a legacy of its past as a high-velocity access route. Accompanied by the discreet rumbling of the mid-mounted boxer, we cruise along at a relaxed pace toward our destination: the stunning western coast and Munro country to the west of Inverness, with peaks of more than 900 meters. I’m only reminded that the GT4 will cut a 7-minute 40-second northern loop of the Nürburgring when I see the roll cage in the rearview mirror. Shortly thereafter, on the A9, large electronic road signs display the message “WARNING: heavy rain expected.”

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Bathed in yellow light, the Highlands welcome the Cayman GT4.

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The Cayman greets the picturesque scenery along the A832 with mid-engine fanfare.

The first drops of rain don’t come as light drizzle, more as great dollops of water. Only a few clatter into the Cayman’s body panels, but the impacts are not those of “normal” rain. Within a minute the sky is black, the car is being pelted, and the road is flooded. Five years ago, driving on high-performance tires optimized for track use would have meant pulling over and waiting for the rain to clear because the risk of hydroplaning was so severe, but the latest Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires don’t even seem concerned by the gray river ahead. The Cayman sails along into the inevitable thunderstorm without a care in the world, past the famous Dalwhinnie distillery, where the topography suddenly becomes taller and more imposing.

The biblical rain disappears as fast as it arrived and the skies clear, leaving a brilliant blue background peeking between clouds that range from bright white to gray to almost black—something you might see in a magazine and immediately assume was computer-enhanced.

The freeway splits off onto a rural road and the scenery changes again; more intimate than the central highlands, but with empty roads and perfect pavement, the GT4 can now unleash some of that horsepower—within legal limits, of course. The GT4 is all about connection—from the crisp steering to the firm suspension to the manual six-speed transmission. I just can’t get enough of the latter, snicking needlessly up and down through the gears just to enjoy the sensation and hear that engine deliver great barks of exhaust noise on each downshift blip. The GT4 feels wondrously alive at every speed. It is always wide awake, always ready to pounce.

On magical little roads we spend the next few hours skirting the coast before the Hebrides and smiling at the sheer beauty of the place—huge skylines, hidden coves and beaches, and even stop quickly to dip our toes and wonder at the Gulf Stream’s coddling warmth.

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The tour runs through Garve and Torridon, with views of numerous lakes and the Hebrides.

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The narrow roads are ideal for the six-speed manual transmission.

Heading back inland the roads become more technical—perfect Cayman country, with endless third-gear bends that must have been designed purely for mid-engine machines. With the exhaust flaps open, the boxer soundtrack pings off the rock faces as we head down to Loch Maree, and even a good twenty minutes of enjoyable driving do not come close to making the optional PCCB brakes break a sweat. Just when you thought the scenery couldn’t become any more beautiful, the storm clouds clear a little further and reveal the village of Torridon. The road is too narrow for anything but a dawdle, but flanked by the Munros you spear down a deep glacial valley that emerges into vast Loch Torridon.

The scenery in the Highlands is simply overwhelming. The roads are something else too: smooth, well-sighted, and the perfect width for the Cayman. I’ve driven this car to its maximum potential on a track and it really sings, but what this drive taught me is how good a road car it is. As we loop back home over Inverness, the clouds gather anew. The skies open their floodgates and once again the sticky tires sail through the deep water. The GT4 relaxes into the cruise south. Road-tripping is the way forward. The car has kept its promise.

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Contrast between tradition and modernity: The Porsche is not just visually a perfect fit.

By Chris Harris
Photos by Victor Jon Goico

What to do in Inverness

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Loch Ness, Scottland, Aerial view, © Google Inc.

Discover

The city

The capital of the Highlands is also the northernmost major city in Great Britain. At its center, the Victorian Market, built in 1870, is located near the pedestrian zone. On the main road not far from Inverness Castle, the Inverness Museum & Art Gallery displays everything from weapons and jewelry to modern art.

The history

A good 20 kilometers southwest of Inverness lies legendary Loch Ness. Just a stone’s throw away from it is the battlefield of Culloden, where the Highlanders suffered a major defeat at the hands of the English in 1746. The latter then built monumental Fort George, which measures 650 by 280 meters, 20 kilometers northeast of Inverness.

The drinks

Restaurants and pubs offer whisky from nearby distilleries, beers brewed in the region, and local wines. The food ranges from international cuisine to regional specialties such as salmon and highland cheeses (www.inverness-scotland.com).