Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS First Drive Review : Crocodile Rock

By topgear, 06 April 2022

The 2022 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS is a headbanging, rock-and-raunchy tarmac terrorist that more than lives up to the ‘RS’ name

Estoril, Portugal - Porsche’s RS models are a special breed of sportscars that needs to be driven in anger to deliver divine driving goodness… and the rock and raunchy 718 Cayman GT4 RS – first of the Cayman/Boxster models to ever wear the ‘RS’ emblem –  is no exception.

As far as Porsche is concerned, you’ll never have to worry it’ll water-down its purist-pleasing core range of RS models – please, let’s not get into the air-cooled to water-cooled debate!

Porsche doesn’t compromise the essence of what makes a ‘RS’ model a ‘RS’ for the sake of marketing appeal like some other brands have done, because it is this exact uncompromising attitude with regards to the ‘RS’ moniker that is its strongest appeal.

Porschephiles appreciate that ‘RS’ isn’t a trendy catchphrase or a punchline, but refers to the brand’s ever-growing body of track-ready road-legal sportscars of murderous intent ready to work its magical blend of violence on any serpentine body of tarmac it’s pointed at.

Don’t forget, this is the same company that ran contrary to price positioning theories with the launch of the 2.7 RS (for just 1973 and 1974) by offering the consumer less (weight, trim, equipment, unnecessary fripperies) for more (thrills, excitement and of course, money)!

It would take another 30 years before the ‘RS’ badge was dusted-off in 2003 (the time of the 996.2) and since then, there has been a GT3 RS model for every iteration of the 911 (in both .1 and .2 guises).

The niche – and almost cult-like – appeal of the RS models targets a relatively small group of devotees, but while they’re small in number (compared to the hordes buying the Cayenne, Macan and Panamera), they are most assuredly vocal in opinion (please, let’s not get into how RS models are now PDK-only!).

RS models, or ‘Renn Sport’ (for Race Sport) for short, are the living, breathing tarmac-shredding embodiments of Porsche Motorsport’s know-how in ‘lightening’, aerodynamics, powertrain performance and of course, creating scintillating and visceral thrills as you chase and split the seconds for every lap – all of which is gleaned from the brand’s successes in motorsports.

We should add though, that in the case of the GT4 RS, Porsche breathes new meaning into the ‘RS’ moniker with ‘Renn Spaß’, which translates to Race Fun.

Even in the midst of inexorable electrification and the arms race to create ever-faster cars, it’s great that Porsche understands the importance of ‘fun’ and as our drive will show, it achieves it in spades with the GT4 RS.

In fact, the group of RS diehards is almost as vocal as the screaming nat-asp 4.0-litre flat-six that sits just behind the front occupants of the 718 GT4 RS, a mildly detuned version of the same nat-asp flat-six 4.0-litre found in the business-end of the 992 GT3.

The GT4 RS isn’t just a mildly tweaked version of the GT4, because extensive work has gone into making it lighter, faster, more agile, more vocal and all in, just better than the GT4 – as if the evil glint in the RS’s eyes didn’t give the game away!

For starters, the RS’s fiercely focused motorsports-inspired elements build on the GT4's to carve through air even more effectively, with front diffuser and rear wing angle adjustable to achieve a maximum of up to 25 per cent more downforce than the GT4. Furthermore, the tracking, camber and anti-roll bars are adjustable to suit track and driver preferences.

The GT4 RS is available with two optional ‘packs’: Weissach and Club Sport. What’s interesting is the Weissach can be specified without the accompanying titanium roll-cage (Club Sport gets you the regular steel roll-cage), so you can specify the gorgeous forged magnesium 20-inch alloy-rims to save an additional 10kg on top of the 35kg savings vis-a-vis the 718 GT4.

Carbon fibre bonnet and front fenders, lightweight carpets, a lightweight Gorilla-glass rear windscreen, minimal insulation and privacy-panel-delete are just a few of the other weight-saving measures.

Aero-wise, the humongous rear GT-wing is unmistakable, as are its distinctive swan-neck supports (just like its 992 GT3 big brother), 991 RS front fender louvres to clean up ‘dirty’ air in the front wheel wells and NACA ducts on the flat underbody, as well as on the bonnet to help cool the front 408mm brakes (the optional PCCBs feature 410mm fronts) without interfering with the drag-coefficient.

The cars we drove around the Estoril Circuit were in full Weissach regalia, which means loads of exposed carbonfibre (bonnet, rear wing, door mirror covers, air-intake box and ram-air window ducts), drop-dead gorgeous centre-locking magnesium rims, a titanium roll-cage and exhaust system, as well as bucket-seats from the 918 Spyder.

Compared to the GT3’s 510hp, the Porsche Motorsport 4.0-litre produces ‘just’ 500hp in the GT4 RS (due in part to the differences in the length of the exhaust routing between the GT3’s rear-mounted engine and the GT4 RS’s mid-mounted one), but as real driving enthusiasts can appreciate, such figures tell only a small part of the story.

The Cayman’s mid-engined configuration sees the engine positioned just behind the front occupants, with the carbonfibre air-intake box at ear-level to boot. If you’ve checked out our photos, you’ll see that instead of rear windows found on regular Caymans, the GT4 RS features carbonfibre intake ducts (on our Weissach Package equipped track test-car) on both sides.

The ram-air ducts force-feed air directly into a custom air intake (designed by BMC of Italy, Porsche GT’s visible air-intake partner since the 997 RS 4.0), with an elevated ‘stadium’ style air-filter design (photo attached) in the intake-box tuned to deliver the most amazing sound not just across rev-bands and differing throttle openings, but also as the temperature heats up during hard driving.

As you can imagine, this translates to the most amazing soundtrack when you’re really hammering it and the frenetic GT4 RS is the perfect blend of sex and violence that thrives at both the upper reaches of the rev-band, as well as the outer limits of the traction circle.

Driving purists have always appreciated the Cayman’s lean and mean form factor – especially with its compact 997-proportions (albeit narrower) – agility and how it can be wielded with devastating effectiveness when you’re tackling the twisties.

Like all Porsches, the driving position in the 918 Spyder bucket seat is beyond reproach. As we kept to the reduced pit-lane speeds, there’s nary a hint of the magical mechanical music to come… until we entered the track proper and opened up the throttle.

At full throttle, the symphony boggles belief, because you’d never expect such sound of a Cayman as the needle arcs towards its 9000rpm redline. The wall of sound is a palpable, living being that envelops you in a cocoon of cacophony as you take every opportunity to bring the howling 4.0-litre to redline and yourself, to motoring nirvana.

Around the Estoril Circuit and winding roads, the GT4 RS is alert and attentive to helm and throttle inputs and eager to cut deeply into every apex. It’s a veritable athlete that is light on its feet, changes direction in a flash and drives like an extension of your own body.

The mid-engined/rear-drive GT4 RS is a sublimely balanced surgical instrument capable of devastating strikes on your target tarmac. The drive experience is fluid and the GT4 RS constantly communicates its intentions so you can drive it with nothing less than full commitment.

We’re not one of those to clamour for a manual transmission for the sake of it, because the 7spd PDK is a perfect companion to the GT4 RS. Left to its own devices in PDK Sport mode, the transmission changes gears precisely and predictably, with every one of the seamless shifts punctuated with a satisfying shift-shock (and rousing blip on the downshifts).

The GT4 RS’s gearbox takes all the tasty bits from the best GT models of recent times: gear set and axle ratio are from the 991.2 GT3 RS, the LSD is from the manual 991.2 GT3, the dual mass flywheel is from the 982 GT4 Clubsport and the ‘manual’ look shift selector is carried over from the 992 GT3.

From paddle-shifters to steering, brake and accelerator pedal, the driving controls are perfectly weighted and the braking prowess stupendous from the oversized brakes – all in keeping with a car of the GT4 RS’s motorsports pedigree. Every element is tightly-wound and there’s never any slack in the manner the GT4 RS conducts itself.

The pace is ferocious, with a powerful pull from the engine and such immediate reactions from the chassis to steering and throttle inputs that the GT4 RS is an eminently adjustable and engaging sportscar to drive fast. The brakes are immensely powerful and inspire great confidence, as well as serve up a huge feel, which lends themselves perfectly to millimetre-precise modulation.

Bear in mind though, the GT4 RS starts from S$656,288 (around RM2 million) before COE and options [the GT4 starts from S$463,688 (around RM1.4 million) if you’re wondering]. Even before we got beyond a cost-optional colour and Weissach Package (sans the S$67k magnesium rims), we were already knocking on the door of S$750k before COE, which is within spitting range of a 992 GT3.

Purists will appreciate the difference between the two, but you’ll spend plenty of time explaining to less enlightened friends that: 1) the GT4 RS bodykit is factory-fit and 2) why you decided to spend 911 money on a 718 Cayman…

Well, IYKYK and besides, you didn’t get to the position of being able to buy a S$800+k 718 by having to explain yourself to folks who don’t know any better.

With the 911 growing with every generation, many feel that the 718 Cayman GT4 RS is the perfect size for driving shenanigans along narrow, winding B-roads, especially if you also have easy access to the race-track, as our friends up North enjoy.

The GT4 RS will shed no crocodile tears as it tears up the B-roads, but it also has the necessary chutzpah to bring its blend of motorsports mayhem to the circuit, thanks to its prodigious aero and track-ready set-up.

As far as we’re concerned, the GT4 RS plays just the right sort of rock and raunch we’d gladly headbang along to!

STORY David Khoo
PHOTOS Porsche

PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN GT4 RS
Engine 3996cc, 24v, flat6, nat-asp
Power/rpm 500hp/8400rpm
Torque/rpm 450Nm/6750rpm
Transmission 7spd PDK dual-clutch
0-100km/h 3.4secs
Top speed 315km/h
Kerbweight (DIN) 1415kg
Fuel Consumption (WLTP) 13.2l/100km
CO2 (WLTP) 299g/km