THE STREETS OF WILLOW
- The Porsche Cayman GT4 RS marks the first time those two wonderful letters have graced the rear deck and side sills of a Porsche not called “911”.
Especially from the inside, as the airbox sits right there in the cabin with nothing between it and your ear canal.
This particular Cayman needs that huge airbox because underneath it sits the 4-litre flat-six sourced from the 911 GT3, while the “standard” GT4 makes do with a bored out, de-turbo’d version of the 911’s 3.0-litre flat-six. The RS’s engine needs more air for both cooling and power production, which means it gets extra air intakes where the rear side windows used to be. It is a monstrous set-up.
Power is rated at 493 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque. That’s down a little on the GT3 RS due to the longer exhaust required by the Cayman’s mid-engine configuration, but up from 414 and 309, respectively, on the GT4.
A deep dive in to what they’ve done to the GT4 to bring it up to “RS” status reads like a laundry list of racing modifications that includes an adjustable carbon fibre rear wing that provides 25 per cent more downforce that the item on the standard GT4; adjustable front splitter and wheel settings; optional ultra-lightweight magnesium wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber; Naca brake cooling ducts; dual-mass flywheel shared with the Clubsport racer; increased body stiffness; special brake rotors and pads, and more.
Of course, it’s eye-catching, to be sure although that doesn’t quite do it justice; absolutely bonkers is probably the better way to go, especially when finished in Racing Yellow, as seen here. Slap a sponsor decal or two on one of these babies, and it wouldn’t look out of place on a racetrack, anywhere.
Or, you can go ahead and spec the $15-grand-and-change Weissach package to have the wing mirror caps, hood, side intakes, and wing all finished in exposed carbon fibre. That’s also how you get those 935-style tailpipes, and if you want those magnesium wheels, you have to start here. Meaning that to get those weight-saving wheels (the grey car pictured has them; the yellow car does not), you have to part with over $30 grand
but they save over 21 pounds of unsprung weight. The magnesium-wheeled car felt noticeably more fleet-of-foot. Still, though; that’s a lot of moolah, even considering the GT4 RS’ $166,600 base MSRP.
There are some interior changes, of course, thought they aren’t quite as marked. The yellow centering band atop the steering wheel is one, as is the shift lever that’s shared with the GT3 (it may look like a manual, but it isn’t. And the GT4RS can only be had with a seven-speed PDK automatic), carbon fibre inserts on dash and center console and special badging on the seats and faux suede-trimmed dash if you spec the Weissach package.
It remains a very serious place but a great one to sit in. Perfect wheel angle, seat angle (fixed back carbon items are standard, but these can be switched out) and everything is right where it needs to be.
It makes it a lot easier to get down to the business of driving this razor-sharp mid-engined track monster from Porsche.
The quoted zero-60 mph time is 3.4 seconds and while that isn’t necessarily a face-pulling number, the real drama starts as you take to the track and really start to flow. I didn’t worry about launch control, I just wanted to get out there because this is a car that positively bristles with energy as soon as you fire it up and you can tell it doesn’t want any computerized help. It just wants to run. And to sweat. And to do it all over again, turn after turn.
The Streets of Willow track in California is a twisty desert affair with many a blind corner and a few multi-apex fast sweepers, so it can be daunting.
Unless, of course, you’re in a Porsche GT4 RS with its super-sticky tires and up to 220 pounds of aero. On a dry surface like this, it’s almost impossible to un-stick as that molasses-like Michelin rubber just munches the tarmac below it. And all the while, that magnificent 4-litre flat-6 with its six individual throttle bodies, rigid valvetrain with finger followers and dry sump lubrication is banshee-wailing behind you.
For all its aero addenda and spine-tingling exhaust note, the GT4 RS is actually very much a point-and-shoot sports car with incredibly direct steering, a responsive front end and fantastic body control that just continues to spirit you forward with zero inertia. It also gets increased spring rates so body movement is reduced even further still.
It didn’t take me long to start pushing, pushing, and pushing some more because this car is meant to handle way more than I was ever going to lob its way over the course of a handful of laps. Still, of all the time I’ve spent on the track, and of all the cars I’ve driven in that environment, I’m having a hard time remembering the last time I became “one” with a car this quickly.
You do have to pay for it, though; all told in Weissach/magnesium spec, the GT4 RS costs about as much a 911 Turbo, arguably the flagship of the 911 line.
Here’s the thing, though the GT4 RS is the “halo” of the Cayman/718 line, it is a no-holds-barred affair and in the rarified world inhabited by trackday specials like this, that kind of pedigree counts for something. The GT4 RS is different and more unique than even a 911 Turbo and when push comes to shove and you already have a 911 at home, well, why not, right?
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.