2022 Porsche Cayman GT4 RS review: It’s playtime

As much fun as a 911 GT3? A smitten Andrew Frankel puts forward the case for the more affordable Porsche Cayman GT4 RS

Porsche Cayman GT4 RS

Porsche Cayman GT4 RS: "It put the biggest smile on my face this year"

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The new Porsche Cayman GT4 RS is, put in simplest terms, a Cayman GT4 with the engine from a 911 GT3, and that begs a rather interesting question: if the lighter, better balanced, cheaper Cayman can now be had with GT3 power, and given that, like the Cayman, no GT3 has any rear seats, has Porsche not just tugged the carpet straight out from under the feet of its most coveted car?

On paper it would seem so. Yes, because the engine has to be turned around for a mid-engine application and has longer exhausts, so the Cayman GT4 RS has ten fewer horsepower than the GT3, but 493bhp is hardly going to leave punters feeling short-changed, especially as both cars post identical 0-62mph times and the Cayman is 20kg lighter than the GT3. And at £108,370, it’s over £23,000 less expensive.

So what’s the catch? It depends on your priorities, and if chief among them is driving around a race track as fast as possible, thenthe GT3 still comes with many advantages. It puts a little more rubber on the road, has an additional amount of downforce, rear wheel steering and double-wishbone front suspension. So while the GT4 RS’s 7.04sec Nürburgring lap time is 24sec faster than that of the standard GT4 (albeit with the advantage of sticky Michelin Cup 2R tyres), it’s still 9sec slower than the GT3.

If, however, you couldn’t give tuppence for such stuff, the case for the GT3 is farharder to make, its most compelling argument now seemingly the mere fact it’s a 911 GT3, and not a Cayman. There is a history, a pedigree that comes as standard with every track-orientated 911 that stretches back for most of a lifetimewhich the Cayman simply does not possess.

Porsche GT4 RS

Carbon-fibre reinforced seats and motor sport-style door pull loops instead of handles add a purposeful air to the GT4 RS

But as a thing to drive, a machine in which to simply enjoy the business of being behind the wheel, the GT4 RS gives little or nothing away to its celebrity big brother.

Engine aside, turning the Cayman GT4 into a GT4 RS is a largely predictable process. What you lose is the option of a manual gearbox and no one can tell me that’s not a shame. The usual lightweighting measures have been taken including a CFRP bonnet and front wings, reduced noise insulation, thin glass, lightweight door cards and so on, saving a useful but hardly transformational 35kg. There’s a wider rear track, slightly bigger brakes and bespoke settings for their otherwise shared suspension architecture. The tyres are carried over. The only surprise is the shortening of the ratios both within the PDK gearbox and its overall final drive, and then only because people like me having been whingeing for so long about length of such ratios we’d long since presumed Porsche was leaving them alone on principle.

“A machine in which to simply enjoy being behind the wheel”

There is a surprise, and that manifests itself in the character of the car, which manages to be akin to that of neither the GT3 nor GT4. The former is a more serious track warrior than any previous GT3, an approach that comes at the cost of some on-road civility, the latter a well-judged all-round sports car I’d probably choose as my daily driver above just about anything else on sale. The GT4 RS? It wants to have fun.

Porsche GT4 RS

This is not a car for setting visor-down, eyes-narrowed, buttocks-clenched lap times, but one in which to delight in the thrust of its scintillating engine, the race car immediacy of its now close-ratio box and a balance that makes it want to slide and slide and slide. Or for those with an eye on the tyre bill and tyre barrier who want to leave at least some systems switched on, they’ll find that once they’ve pushed through a touch of mechanical differential-induced initial understeer, the GT4 RS is as neutral, communicative and trustworthy as you could hope a modern mid-engined car to be.

But actually, and unlike any GT3 RS, this car is all about its powertrain. Not only is the engine physically closer to you than in a GT3, there are also intakes cut into the rear quarter lights which means it makes a noise unlike that of any GT3, at least in its volume. You’ll think I’ve gone soft, but on the road without a helmet shielding your ears, there were times as the 9000rpm red line approached when I wondered whether its shriek might be too loud. But not many.

It is the marriage of that engine to those gear ratios that turns the GT4 RS into a car apart. And it means the gap in raw performance and sheer exhilaration between it and the ‘standard’ GT4 is wider than that which has ever existed between a GT3 and its RS derivative.

Where Porsche has been clever is that when the time has come for play to end, the GT4 RS calms down just enough to get you home without frying your mind on the way. The ride quality is reasonable, the engine on part throttle giving no hint of the absolute mania of which it is capable. It is a purely recreational vehicle, but if that recreation is at the Nürburgring, it won’t be purgatory getting there.

Getting one on your driveway, however, is likely to be a different matter. The GT4 RS is not a limited-production car but they can only be built at a certain rate and for a certain period of time, which results in a certain number of cars, a number which is bound to be below that of the total number of people who want one.

Should that affect this review? Of course not: I’m here to give an opinion on a car, not its maker’s marketing strategy and the fact is the GT4 RS is at least as much fun as a GT3 for a lot less money. If you’re looking for a car purely for enjoyment’s sake, and if you can get one, you can consider your search concluded.

Porsche Cayman GT4 RS specifications

Price From £108,370
Engine 4 litres, six cylinders, petrol
Power 493bhp at 8400rpm
Torque 332lb ft at 6750rpm
Weight 1415kg (DIN)
Power to weight 349bhp per tonne
Transmission Seven-speed double clutch, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph 3.4sec
Top speed 196mph
Economy 21.4mpg
CO2 299g/km
Verdict Enjoy it, if you can get one.