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Porsche boss admits they got the Cayman GT4's gearbox wrong

By Andy Enright, 25 May 2020 Features

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4

Why the sky-high gearing, Porsche? The man in charge comes clean

We expect near-perfection from Porsche. Therefore, when the company gets things wrong, it tends to stand out like a beacon.

Some of its rivals may get away with a car with unresolved handling or shaky reliability, but if a Porsche displays those qualities, it's a guaranteed headliner.

The Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 is an excellent sports coupe, but it has a flaw.

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4

At present, it's only offered with a six-speed manual gearbox and the ratios of that 'box are, not to put too fine a point on it, berserk.

Read next: Why Porsche's Cayman GT4 shot for the moon but missed

This is a normally-aspirated engine that thrives on revs. You buy the GT4 to wring every last revolution out of it, nudging against the 8000rpm redline before dipping the clutch, snicking another gear and repeating.

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 onroad

Except you can't. Not on Australian roads anyway. First gear in a Cayman GT4 takes you to around 84km/h, while second will see 137km/h on the clock and third puts you smack into Tracey Grimshaw's crosshairs at 195km/h.

Read next: Would you buy a Porsche Cayman GT4 or one of these six rivals?

While this is fine on a track, fast road driving delivers a measure of frustration. The car's quite happy and will deliver its best left in second gear, which does much to negate the tactile involvement of buying a manual in the first place.

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 rear wing

Wheels recently had the opportunity to talk to the man in charge of the entire Porsche 911 and 718 lines, Frank-Steffen Walliser, and we were unable to resist asking him what the rationale was behind this curious engineering decision.

We expected it to be emissions-based. The real reason was quite different.

Read next: Can the Porsche Cayman GTS break free of the GT4's shadow?

"The gearbox we have, don't get me wrong, it's an old one, an existing one and changing the gear was just technically not possible as we were running out of space on the shafts, if we need an adjustment there,” he explains.

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 gearbox

Then comes the closest we've heard to an admission that the manual car's not quite what it could be.

"We would have loved to have seen that, [the gearing] a little bit shorter, but technically there was no way. We have an answer, which will come later this year and that's very nice then," he says.

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Andy Enright

The solution he's talking about, the seven-speed PDK, will have a shortening effect on ratios, but if you're dead-set on three pedals and a stick, you're stuck with what's out there.

First world problems? Maybe. But when you're Porsche, even small criticisms generate big feed-back.