Both models are the most track-focused versions of their respective lineups and feature naturally aspirated engines.
Porsche will be adding an even more hard-core Cayman GT4 RS and Chevrolet a Corvette ZR-1, but for now, these two are the top of the food chain.
As has long been the case, direct competitors for the Chevrolet Corvette are hard to come by due to the car's combination of performance and price, and that's even more true with the C8 generation's move to a mid-engine layout. Mid-engine exotics such as the McLaren GT, the Lamborghini Huracán, and the Maserati MC20 have six-figure price tags that start with a 2, making them vastly more expensive than the similarly configured C8. The standard Audi R8 V10 isn’t as far out in the ionosphere, but in order to crest the 600-hp mark, you need to upgrade to the Performance version, which again is crowding $200K. Come next year, the mid-engine Lotus Emira may be another competitor, and its First Edition will have a 400-hp supercharged V-6 at a cost of $96,100. For now, though, we'd say the nearest temptation for would-be Corvette buyers is the Porsche Cayman. And for the new Corvette Z06, it’s the Cayman GT4, so that’s the matchup we’re looking at here.
Both cars use engines that epitomize their brands: a small-block V-8 for the Chevy, a flat-six for the Porsche.
The heart of the Corvette Z06 is its new LT6 V-8. Displacing 5.5 liters, this DOHC 32-valve engine features a flat-plane crankshaft. It makes 670 horsepower at 8400 rpm, just shy of its 8600-rpm redline, along with 460 pound-feet of torque at 6300 rpm. By comparison, the Cayman’s naturally aspirated flat-six is down in cylinder count, displacement, and power output. It revs to 8000 rpm and spins out 414 horsepower at 7600 rpm and 309 or 317 pound-feet of torque, depending on transmission.
Chevrolet did not engineer the C8 Corvette for a manual transmission, and that includes the Z06. So here again, an eight-speed Tremec dual-clutch automatic will be sending the engine’s output to the rear wheels. By contrast, Porsche—for the time being, at least—still offers a stick shift in the Cayman GT4. Of course, buyers who don’t want that six-speed manual can spend up for the eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic.
Size and Weight
The Cayman GT4 casts a shadow 175.5 inches long and is 71.0 inches wide. It sits astride a 97.8-inch wheelbase, and the front track is 60.6 inches with the rear at 60.4.
The Corvette Z06 stretches 184.6 inches in length (185.9 with the carbon fiber aerodynamic package) and rides on a 107.2-inch wheelbase. It's wider than the standard car at 79.7 inches and has a wider stance with a front track of 66.3 inches and a rear of 66.1.
On our scales, the manual-equipped Cayman GT4 weighed 3196 pounds, resulting in a weight-to-power ratio of 7.6 pounds per horsepower. Our estimated curb weight for the Z06 is 3700 pounds in its lightest configuration, which would make for a weight-to-power ratio of 5.5 pounds per horsepower.
In our testing, the Cayman GT4 equipped with the PDK dual-clutch automatic zipped from 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds on its way to an 11.6-second quarter-mile at 121 mph. With a six-speed manual transmission, those numbers were 3.7 seconds to 60 and 11.9 through the quarter at 120 mph. We have yet to test the new Z06, but a regular C8 with the Z51 package hit 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds at 122 mph. We estimate that the Z06 will hit 60 mph in 2.4–2.5 seconds, and will demolish the quarter in 10.4–10.5 seconds.
The Cayman GT4 sits an inch lower and rides on stiffer springs than its siblings, and its suspension offers adjustment of camber, toe, ride-height, and anti-roll bar settings. Porsche offers adaptive dampers and carbon-ceramic brake rotors ($8000).
The Z06 similarly has its own suspension calibration with standard Magnetic Selective Ride Control 4.0. And it, too, will offer optional carbon-ceramic brakes as part of the Z07 package, which also includes a further upgraded FE7 suspension, a carbon fiber aero package, and Michelin Sport Cup 2 R ZP tires.
The base Z06 wheels are 20-x-10-inch front and 21-x-13-inch rear, but Z06 buyers can swap out those standard aluminum wheels for carbon-fiber wheels that are 41 pounds lighter (in total) and get their own specific tuning for the power steering and the magnetorheological dampers. The Cayman GT4 rolls on 20-x-8.5-inch front and 20-x-11-inch rear wheels.
The 2021 Cayman GT4 starts at $101,550. Pricing for the 2023 Corvette Z06 hasn't been released yet, with Chevy saying only that it would track the previous Z06 premium. Based on that, we're estimating $90,000 as the starting point for the ultimate Corvette.
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