New Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS 2022 review
The superb 496bhp Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS lives up to its reputation on UK roads
While the parts that have been used to make the new 718 Cayman GT4 RS are great, the total sum is even greater. It may seem like a track-honed weapon of a sports car, but you can easily tap into this car’s supreme ability on road too. With the RS, Porsche seems to have perfected the small mid-engined sports-car formula so the Cayman is no longer in the 911’s shadow. In fact, it may even be the other way around.
When you have something as iconic and revered as the 911 in your range, you’d think Porsche would’ve had some pressure to not step on its own toes with the GT4 RS. Thankfully this obviously wasn’t the case when it devised the hottest version of the Cayman to date.
Our resident racing driver, Steve Sutcliffe drove the new Cayman GT4 RS in Portugal around the rather magnificent Estoril circuit, concluding it was very possibly the best road car he’d ever driven on a track (high praise considering the cars he’s piloted). He also said the GT4 RS delivered a civilised driving experience on the road too, not something you’d expect from the most hardcore Cayman yet. Today we put the second part of his experience to test on UK roads.
Revealed back in November 2021, the ingredients that make up the GT4 RS have been eulogised over and over, but for good reason. It seems like a greatest hits list of all the parts you’d want in a mid-engined sports car, Porsche or not.
Car group tests
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The engine’s the most-talked about component, mostly because it’s the fabulous 4.0-litre, flat-six from the 911 GT3. With 496bhp it produces 10bhp less in the GT4 and 22bhp less than the newly-revealed GT3 RS - due to the increased back pressure of the mid-engined car’s longer exhaust.
But while the GT4 RS is down slightly on power compared to its larger siblings, at 1,415kg it’s lighter than both the 911 GT3 (1,435kg) and GT3 RS (1,450kg). Helping deliver this weight reduction is the use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic on the front wings and bonnet and just like previous RS models, the Porsche emblem is now just a sticker. The interior features lighter, thinner rear-window glass, lightweight carpets, less sound deadening and of course, fabric door pulls. You can even delete the central infotainment screen.
Any disappointment that there's no manual option in the GT4 RS is quashed by Porsche’s exceptional PDK seven-speed automatic gearbox. It’s closer and shorter-geared than the regular GT4’s, resulting in a drop from 3.9 seconds to 3.4 seconds for the 0-62mph claim. Top speed has also improved, going from 188mph to 196mph, despite the addition of a vast new adjustable rear wing, complete with ‘swan neck’ mounting brackets. The GT4 RS develops almost as much downforce as the 911 GT3 as 120mph.
We may be testing it on the road here, but it’s worth a quick reflection on how the GT4 RS performed at the Nurburgring. It posted a time that was nine seconds slower than the GT3 and boss of Porsche’s legendary GT department, Andreas Preuninger explained why at the car’s reveal. “It’s really for having fun on the street. So we sacrificed maybe a little in track ability – maybe we could have gotten two seconds quicker on the ‘Ring – but we would have suffered big time on the road.”
The GT4 RS backs this up as soon as you take to Tarmac. In normal mode it's a car you could quite easily take on a long journey (provided your luggage is light). The suspension doesn’t suffer over bumps and potholes and despite the lack of insulation and shortened gear ratios, it settles at motorway speeds. Despite the front track being 6mm wider and the rear being 8mm wider than the Cayman GT4, there’s no wayward following of road creases either.
It takes a huge amount of restraint to not drive the Cayman GT4 RS in Sport all the time. Switch the toggle to Sport on the steering wheel and the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) stiffens the damping and you get an added bark of induction from the engine. If you’re cruising along with your foot resting on the throttle, you’ll even get a little lurch forward as the throttle response picks up.
The PDK gearbox in Sport mode offers up rapid shifts from the paddles, but they’re also super smooth. Downchanging is addictive, because the air intake (moved to the rear three-quarter window in GT4 RS) is right behind your head and provides an incredible noise as the revs flick up.
This is only matched by the way the engine note climbs through the rev range. There’s not much below 3,000rpm, but rising to around 7,000rpm you get a wonderfully linear power delivery and towards the sky-high rev limit of 9,000rpm, it feels like there’s a step change where the engine and intake noise become all-encompassing. The fact Porsche has shortened the gear ratios means you can experience the GT4 RS’s upper rev range in second at a perfectly legal 60mph. Strangely, the flat-six in the GT4 RS seems like it uses softer engine mounts than the latest GT3 (even the Touring), with less vibration under acceleration.
Corners seem to come up thick and fast in the GT4 RS and with a front axle taken from the previous-generation 991.2 GT3 RS, it’s reassuringly predictable. The steering is also as precise as you’d expect from an RS Porsche. The brakes are simply superb, brimming with feel and hugely powerful, we expect the brake-cooling NACA bonnet ducts won’t often be troubled on road. You’ll also never truly make the most of the downforce on the road, but that won’t matter thanks to the mechanical grip afforded by the suspension and tyre combination.
Porsche has said it’ll build around 7,000 GT4 RS, but while this figure is much larger than many were expecting, the £108,370 price tag seems like a bargain - especially now the shackles are finally off Porsche’s mid-engined sports car.
|Model:||Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS|
|Engine:||4.0-litre flat-six petrol|
|Transmission:||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel drive|