The 718 Cayman GT4 RS is one of the most thrilling and special Porsche GTs yet.
So read the first line of our five-star road test verdict of the GT4 RS and given that Porsche’s GT model history has not been short of thrilling or special cars, that’s no small compliment.
Much of the special feeling comes from its engine. There are those of us at Autocar who stood around a computer monitor listening again and again to the sound it made as road test editor Matt Saunders took it to the redline during his video first drive. It had to be heard to be believed, he said. But only when the car arrived for full testing with us in the UK did we realise how right he was.
It’s an astonishingly good engine, this Porsche 4.0-litre unit, sharp and penetratingly fierce when you wind it towards is 9000rpm – 9000rpm! – red line. Whether Porsche’s GT department in Weissach intended it this way or not, one can’t help but interpret it as a celebration of the combustion-engined sports car at the most vivid and affecting height it might reasonably reach.
But you don’t need sentimentality to make the car for a five-star road test score here. The engine is only half of the overall experience – if that. The rest of the GT4 RS package is every bit as compelling. Flick through our road test sub-sections: Performance, five stars, nailed on; but Handling and Stability, also five stars, Design and Engineering, five stars, and Buying and Owning, five stars too – and although the ‘buying’ part for this strictly limited production car wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, that only makes the owning side of it more special.
This is the Cayman we’d been waiting 17 years for, since the introduction of the car, which Porsche had resisted making because it was cautious of stealing too much attention from its feted sports car, the 911. And until the GT4 RS, only the Cayman R and the non-RS GT4 had been allowed to delve so deeply into the Cayman’s untapped mid-engined potential.
After the tantalising wait, with the RS Porsche gave it everything it had. Clever aerodynamics, fabulous brake cooling, lightened, stiffened everything with the purpose of engaging and enthralling. Most of us couldn’t remember the last time a road car had been released that felt this purposeful and special – it’s in Ferrari 458 Speciale territory in that manner.
And it’s wonderful on a circuit, too, where you can really get into its precision and feedback, as we noted in Britain’s Best Driver’s Car 2022. At the end of a session like that, it’s terrific to note it was a different kind of car to the 911 GT3, and that these cars ultimately do different things and satisfy in different ways. If a company made one car this good, you’d rejoice. That the same company can make both is remarkable.