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Speed dating: falling in love with the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS in 15 minutes

We’ve been lucky enough to get behind the wheel of some of Porsche’s finest machines from the brand’s vast line-up over the years, but nothing could prepare Staff Editor Elliot Newton for just how performance-focused the new Cayman GT4 RS was on the open road…

Think of fast Porsches, and you’re more than likely going to head towards the spicier end of the 911 dynasty. The 992-generation GT3 and GT3 RS are perhaps the pinnacle of the model’s performance, agility, and race-derived styling, leaving fans of the brand thinking “How can they possibly top this?” The truth is, we were all thinking that when the standard 992-generation models were released, but Porsche always seems to find a way to add more power, more weight-saving, and better driving dynamics to their GT cars. This formula was eventually carried over to the 911’s dinkier, mid-engined sibling, too, and during Goodwood’s fantastic Media Day a few weeks back, we were given the chance to briefly experience the latest generation Cayman GT4 RS on Goodwood Motor Circuits surrounding B roads. Needless to say, we’re still buzzing with excitement from it, only confirming that of all the highly sought-after models Porsche make, this is the one to hold onto and, most importantly, drive.

It was way back in 2015 when the world first got a taste of a more potent Cayman, fitted with a 3.8-litre flat-six engine from the 911 Carrera S, which almost instantly sent the media and Porsche sales centres into a frenzy, with thousands of potential custodians desperate for a chance to own one. The 981-generation GT4 was a phenomenal car, one that gave the Cayman name a worthy spot in the Porsche GT line-up, acting as a more rebellious, lighter, and arguably more dynamic alternative to the bulkier 911. The age-old question we mentioned earlier began to appear, “Surely Porsche can’t top the GT4?” 

Of course, Porsche most certainly could, and a fresh-faced and further-developed 718 Cayman GT4 hit the market in 2019. Its new stance and aggressive styling were the perfect continuation of its predecessor, but crucially, the new GT4 had the performance to back it up. The old 3.8 was removed, being replaced by the punchy, naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-6 derived from the 992's 3.0-litre 9A2EVO engine, giving it over 410 horsepower. Once again, that rhetorical question crept in, but Porsche was far from done, and in 2021 the Cayman’s most potent form was unveiled, the GT4 RS.

It's important to express just how extreme this variation is over the regular, almost comparatively plain-looking GT4. The RS is a car built entirely for the love of performance and driving dynamics, homing in on the brand’s extensive knowledge and heritage of race winning machines and layering it onto a highly capable and compact package. The car has been around for a couple years by now, and there are dozens of world-class journalists who will tell you this is one of, if not the greatest GT car Porsche has made in some time. However, for a mere mortal like myself, the act of simply jiggling my hips into the carbon-backed bucket seats began laying the foundations for a drive I knew I wouldn’t forget in a hurry.

Its cabin is now more than familiar to any Porsche owner, and despite looking slightly outdated now due to the sea of glassware and haptic controls on most modern cars, the GT4 RS encourages you to set up the infotainment before you pull away, allowing you to focus entirely on the driving, something I promptly realised was far more than a request, but a necessity when behind the wheel of this car. It demands concentration, at all costs.

At lower rpms, the GT4 RS feels somewhat tame and very Cayman-like: refined and hugely confidence-inspiring. Bring those revs up into the 4s and 5s, and the engine note takes on an entirely different character. With huge carbon fibre intakes replacing the rear windows, I’m quickly reminded that 4.0-litre engine is sat right behind me, and isn’t even breaking a sweat, with the 7-speed PDK gearbox ensuring every change is a smooth one. It’s only when the car hits its higher rev range, touching the 7,000 to 8,000 rpm mark, that the car wakes up, almost beckoning its driver to stretch its legs. By the time you’re into those rev ranges, though, you’re travelling outrageously fast, with picket fences and cats-eyes flashing through your periphery. The thing is, the noise is so utterly intoxicating that you can’t help but roll through the gears just to hear the low-end burble morph into the F1-style induction noise, followed by an almighty howl in complete unison with the lightning-fast gear change. The GT4 RS sounds unlike any other Porsche, or road car for that matter, I’ve ever driven, and even Porsche’s GT head Andreas Preuninger agrees, claiming the Cayman GT4 RS is "The best sounding GT car out there."

So, the question is: can it get any better than the GT4 RS? Can Porsche somehow extract even more from the GT3-derived 4.0-litre? Can they squeeze even more downforce from its plethora of carbon wings and strakes? Provided emissions regulations allow it, the answer to all of these questions is most likely a yes, but for now we can just enjoy that this car exists and was released in a rapidly changing world dominated by electrification and conformity. The Cayman GT4 RS is a true rebel without a cause, built for the love of spirited driving. It arguably bares more resemblance to Porsche’s classics like the 2.7 RS or 550 Spyder than any modern 911 ever could, for it has so much more to prove than its ever-talented 911-bodied counterparts. We talk weekly about ‘future classics’, cars that we’ll look back on in 50 years and remember the environment in which they were created, and the reception they received upon their launch, and the GT4 RS stands that little bit taller amongst a sea of already impressive Porsche products, for us anyway. If I can suggest one thing, it’s to drive these cars. Forget about their resale value, ignore what is rumoured to come next, simply enjoy every single moment of owning a car such as this, as one day we’ll look back and remember just how good we had it.

Photos by Elliot Newton