Half a mile is all it takes. Half a mile to appreciate that, with the Cayman GT4 RS, Porsche is not messing about. The new GT3-engined Cayman is not a day-to-day sports car with racer daydreams and a really cool wing. Nor is it a gently massaged GT4. Nope, the GT4 RS is a road-legal racing car, pure and simple. And it’s every bit as majestic and maddening as that implies.
Take the transmission, for example. The 911 GT3 and Cayman GT4, focused driving machines both, are available with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed, twin-clutch PDK. The thinking is that, while PDK is faster around a track, the manual is more fun. So, customers get the choice.
The new Cayman GT4 RS, however, doesn’t care about fun. It only cares about outright performance, so it only gets the PDK transmission. You wouldn’t build an F1 car with a manual gearbox, compromising lap time in the name of fun, reasons Porsche, so why do it here?
This purity of purpose is evident in the heavily upgraded chassis, too. Ball-jointed suspension is great for control and feel on racing cars but it’s too much on the road, transmitting truckloads of vibration and noise to the cabin. The GT4 RS doesn’t care: it’s ball-jointed. Deal with it. It also gets an adjustable ride height and an RS-specific tune to the springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, and suffice to say nothing’s been made softer or comfier…
How all of this feels on the road depends entirely on what kind of road you’re on. If it’s bumpy, narrow, busy and boring then forget it – the Cayman GT4 RS will hate the road and you will, before too long, hate the Cayman GT4 RS. Bumps and ridges will crash into the cockpit, the road noise will make you want to cry and the frustration of not being able to use this car as intended will drive you slightly insane. The existing Cayman GT4 is actually a pretty versatile car, and a daily driver if you’re up for it. The GT4 RS absolutely is not.
But hang in there. Because eventually you’ll find a proper road. Or, better still, a racetrack. And then you’ll wonder if this isn’t perhaps one of the most rewarding sports cars currently on sale.
Load the GT4 RS up with some speed and some effort and everything starts to click. The steering is quick, laser-accurate and alive with feel. The car grips, changes direction and reacts instantly to your every input like the racing car it so very nearly is. (Kerb weight is a scant 1415kg, versus 1450kg for a PDK-equipped GT4.)
And then there’s the engine, which dominates the Cayman GT4 RS experience from the moment you fire it up. It’s an awesomely complete performance car engine – urgent, powerful, ultra-rapid in its responses and blessed with such a monumental rev range it takes real effort not to shift up way too soon. Able to rev to an ear-splitting 9000rpm (thanks to the GT4 RS’s air intakes either side of your head, just behind the side window, there is a very real chance of splitting your ears) and a whole heap (79bhp!) more powerful than the GT4, this very special flat-six is the perfect foil to the RS’s breathtakingly focused chassis.
So, the Cayman GT4 RS isn’t messing around. It knows what it wants. And you know you want it.
Porsche Cayman GT4 RS: £108,370, 494bhp flat-six, 3.4sec 0-62mph, 196mph