Thoroughly Toxic Porsche Cayman

There are countless examples in nature of animals blowing themselves up to warn off potential predators.

With its haunches blown-up like a racehorse, those vicious fangs and a rear wing that belongs in a young child’s imagination, the TechArt Widebody could easily serve as the villain’s transport in some over-the-top Saturday morning cartoon. It could even have a voice and play an integral part in the story, but physical violence the Cayman S-based car is now capable of belongs on a cable movie late at night.

Now the Leonberg firm has done Widebody models before, with the Boxster selling 50 of them, but nowhere does it look so utterly violent than here. They have taken the lithe, almost limp-wristed lines of the Cayman S with its apologetic rear and created a visual feast that’s as subtle as a snake bite, but to be fair it has the venom to back it up.

A deep, fanged front splitter claims 15 per cent more downforce and transforms a smooth, understated from end into a snarling statement of intent. At the sides, the bolt on sections give the muscular, blown out stance that easily compares to the most aggressive of its siblings. That monolithic carbon-fibre rear wing that sits atop those newly flexed haunches is fully adjustable and looks at least inspired by racing heritage.

A new rear apron with integral diffuser houses the new twin-exhaust layout and butches up the rear. Love it or hate it, the Widebody makes an impression.

The bored out, 3.8-liter powerplant buried at the midst of the flares, wings and flashes punches out 385bhp and 330lb/ft of torque, which is more than a match for the base Carrera in a body that weighs less than 3000lbs.

New forged pistons, a lightweight titanium crankshaft, sports camshafts, a modified intake manifold with a new filter, an aluminium header and reprogrammed ECU all add to the noxious brew.

From the moment I strapped into the lightweight, figure-hugging sports seat that helped to transmit every nuance and turned the key I could feel it with a guttural, fault-line vibration running through the whole chassis.

A violent, pent-up thrum runs through the drivetrain, the gearstick, even the yellow dials vibrate ominously while the growing thunder sent birds scattering from the nearby trees when we kicked it into life at the DaimlerChrysler-owned test facility near Malmsheim.

There was barely time to acclimatise to the spectacular interior. With the colour coded, high-gloss centre console, dials and stitching and it was a relief it was a sunny day and shades could be worn inside the car without apology.

The Alcantara dressed dash is cool, though, as is the new steering wheel and full leather trim. This is the firm that redid the interior of Michael Schumacher’s private plane, and the interior finish is every bit as good as a car rolling off the production line at Zuffenhausen, just a bit brighter.

When the clutch hit the bite point it takes off with a fantastic soundtrack of chirping tyres, a hollow Ferrari-style bark overlaying the flat six tune and rapidly rising wind-noise. The Widebody hacks 0.5s off the standard car’s 5.4s. It would be more, as TechArt’s mildly-tuned Cayman S manages the same numbers, but beyond a certain point it is the available traction from the stiff-walled ContiSportContact3, rather than power, that limits the car’s ability to jump off the line.

There was only one thing we were ever going to end up doing, a day of hammering round the painted circuit, trying to push the TechArt-fortified Cayman to its natural limits – drifting the car through bends and occasionally playing to its strength and aiming like an arrow at the apex. Drifting took real provocation, which comes from the advantage of endless space on the old airfield, but once out of line the Cayman is a like a go-kart.

TechArt’s press and marketing man Ralph Niese has learned the car backwards and provided a master-class in the company’s subtler yet similarly equipped Cayman GT.

VarioPlus suspension works in harmony with PASM and drops the car 25mm with the keen setting engaged and all that space in the arches has made room for 8.5x20” wheels at the front and 12x20” rears. So the sheer grip is ridiculous, especially in the high speed bends when that monolithic rear wing helps reap 20 per cent more downforce. I pushed harder through each and every bend, safe in the knowledge that there was more grip than power.

This car would take a 911, almost any 911, to pieces on the right road just because it is the proverbial knife in a corner. Porsche hobbled the original Cayman to keep the natural order and the 911 at the top of the food chain. It’s amazing how little it takes to reverse that process and create a real gem of a car.

It’s a near blueprint perfect sportscar. Mid-engined as they should be, rear drive but held on rails by a raft of downforce, mechanical grip from oversized tyres and natural chassis composure.

Beyond second gear, where its possible to provoke the Widebody out of line and into an artful drift that can be held on the throttle more or less at will, the car will just stick like the smaller Lotus, carving a line through the bend with surgical precision and no slip. Held deep within the race seat it’s a unique driving experience, purely on the fingertips and the throttle, you barely need to think about braking and stock steel numbers show that you don’t need the expensive ceramics to rein in such a light car.

At €125,000 it’s just as pricey as a GT3 and you’ve got to have a stable of cars already to be the type to invest in one of these. But for those with a sense of fun and the money to indulge it, TechArt has perverted Porsche’s own brand of justice and put the Cayman at the head of the food chain and into the realm of R-rated thrills.

Gallery: Test Drive: TechArt Widebody

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