Porsche finally did it. For years the Cayman has played second fiddle to the 911, Stuttgart never endowing it with a powertrain that could threaten its icon. The Cayman GT4 RS changes that, thanks to the same 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six as the 911 GT3 (and the 911 GT3 Cup race car) tucked amidships. Boy, does that engine define the car.
The raw figures promise something special: 500bhp and a redline of over 9,000rpm. It doesn’t disappoint. Add engine air inlets directly behind the driver’s and passengers’ ears, feeding individual throttle bodies, and the aural effect alone borders on feral.
The engine draws on Porsche’s motorsport experience. For example, the valvetrain relies on finger followers that do not require hydraulic lash compensation, improving reliability at high RPM. Meanwhile, the dry-sump oiling system uses no fewer than seven scavenging stages. This car will take as much track abuse as you can dish out. A caveat here: the Cayman was tested when temperatures were in minus figures with snow on the ground. Paired with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, those conditions meant opportunities to exercise the stratospheric redline were sparse. But when they arrived it was worth the wait (and sweaty palms).
The GT4 RS is an uncompromising beast, its interior spartan and, with the optional Weissach package, bedecked with carbon flourishes and a half-cage. The ride could best be described as robust, but the payoff is chassis feel in 4K. Given the opportunity to drive the GT4 RS back to back with a GTS 4.0, the laser sharp focus of the former was even more apparent.
Turn-in is almost telepathic and the singing-six allows the attitude of the chassis to be finessed with ease. Hard acceleration out of rough corners will get the rear skipping across the road surface but even then, the ESC and traction control – which provide enough freedom to keep things interesting – prevent anything getting out of hand. The chassis can be firmed up further via the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) but in the UK at least, you’re not going to want to deploy this anywhere other than on a race track.
Could you drive this most hardcore of Caymans daily? Only the most committed would. But the GT4 RS is surely the ultimate iteration of the Cayman. It rewards with a driving experience that, in this synthetic age, delivers both visceral thrills and tack-sharp engagement for the driver.
With Porsche mooted to ditch ICE across the Boxster and Cayman range by mid-decade, it seems the company’s engineers were permitted one final hurrah with the GT4 RS. If this is the last of the gas-drinking Caymans, it is a fitting swan song and you would be hard pushed to find a more emotive drive at any price point.