With its 911 GT3 engine and various other performance upgrades, the GT4 RS is the real deal.
The 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS, like the Honda Civic Type R, could have easily been our Performance Vehicle of the Year, but it simply didn’t land at the very top of each judge’s ballot in this incredibly close competition.
Regardless, the hottest factory-built Cayman to date (by a good margin) delivers driving thrills that had everyone talking as they climbed from the cockpit after each run at the track and on Angeles Crest Highway. With the Cayman’s inherently advantageous mid-engine balance now combined with the 911 GT3’s 4.0-liter flat-six engine, along with more grip compared to the standard GT4, the handling limits are at the sort of heights serious drivers dream of. Helping the dynamics, too, are less weight, bigger brakes, wider front and rear track widths, more rear camber, 220 pounds of aerodynamic downforce, a mechanically locking rear differential, and standard torque vectoring that helps to turn the car as soon as you breathe on the steering wheel.
“This car is a teacher. This car is a coach. This car is a friend. This car is a classroom. The more you drive it hard, the more you learn and the better you get,” features editor Scott Evans said. “Such grip! Such poise! It never ever puts a wheel wrong. Whereas some of the cars here remind you you’re not a race driver and you might not have what it takes to extract everything they have, this one makes you feel like you could win a championship today. It’s the best driving partner you could ask for. I want 10 times as many laps. I just want to keep driving it. Every lap I’m looking for where I could carry a little more speed because I know the car is good for it. And finally, the amount of power is right for this chassis. Porsche should’ve done this a decade ago. “
Or as senior features editor Jonny Lieberman said more succinctly: “Just a wow of a car. “Exactly. And if you’ve followed our previous coverage of the car, you know the GT4 RS’ air intakes run from the quarter windows and just over your shoulders down into the cover-free engine located just behind you. This setup results in an oh-my-freaking-Ferdinand scream that has to be heard to be believed, and if you keep your foot in it past 8,500 rpm all the way to the 9,000-rpm limit, well, may god have mercy on your tinnitus. Combine the rock festival soundtrack with the empirical performance and amazing feel from the driver’s seat, and Porsche has created one of the most enjoyable, experiential driver’s cars of all time.
So why didn’t it win? Some judges dinged it on value, especially because Porsche requires you spend $13,250 on the Weissach pack that is effectively a visual upgrade kit with extra carbon-fiber pieces before it allows you to drop another $15,640 for lightweight forged magnesium wheels that actually bring improved performance. Others felt that for all its ungodly fun and ability, it’s simply the result of Porsche combining a bunch of excellent but existing parts rather than representing or breaking any new ground. Most found the ride quality at lower speeds and daily livability inferior to those of the Corvette Z06. And finally—shockingly, to some evaluators—more than one of our crew members complained the car is just too loud, even with helmets on their heads. We won’t name names, but some of us must be getting old. Decibels be damned, that’s something precisely no one will ever claim about the overall experience of driving the 718 Cayman GT4 RS quickly on a racetrack or fun road.
|2023 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Specifications|
|Base price/as tested||$151,850/$195,100|
|Power (SAE net)||493 hp @ 8,400 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||331 lb-ft @ 6,250 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||2.9 sec|
|Quarter mile||11.0 sec @ 125.8 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||96 ft|
|Lateral acceleration||1.15 g (avg)|
|MT figure eight||22.3 sec @ 0.94 g (avg)|
|EPA city/hwy/comb||15/19/16 mpg|
|EPA range, comb||270 miles|
|Vehicle layout||Mid-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door hatchback|
|Engine, transmission||4.0L direct-injected DOHC 24-valve flat-6, 7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|Curb Weight (f/r dist)||3,232 lb (44/56%)|
|Length x width x height||175.4 x 71.7 x 49.9 in|
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS: what is it?
The range-topping version of the 718 line-up, the GT4 RS is only available in the coupe body style. In India, the 718 range starts with the standard Cayman and Boxster, followed by slightly more spruced-up GTS versions of both. And sitting below GT4 RS are the performance-oriented Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder.
The GT4 RS is the most hardcore, track-oriented, performance model Porsche has ever created for the 718 line-up. At the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany, it managed to put down a time of 7:09.03, a good 23.06 seconds faster than the GT4.
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS: performance
This staggering laptime at the Nurburgring is due to the GT4 RS being slightly lighter but also substantially more powerful than the GT4. Under the hood, it has a 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six engine that produces 500hp – 80hp more than the GT4 – and revs to 9,000rpm. It also makes 30Nm of torque more than the GT4, at 450Nm. This powerplant is the same that’s found in its elder sibling, the 911 GT3, but a bit tuned down.
All this power helps the GT4 RS do the 0-100kph sprint in just 3.4sec and go on to a top speed of 315kph. While the GT4 can also be had with a 6-speed manual gearbox, the GT4 RS is only available with the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The weight saving – of up to 35kg compared to the GT4 – is due to the extensive use of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic for the bonnet and front wings. Its use of a lightweight rear windscreen helps too.
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS: aerodynamics
Porsche’s motorsport division in Flacht, Germany, leaves no stone unturned when it comes to the RS models. Much like the 911 GT3 RS, the GT4 RS has a plethora of aerodynamic upgrades that also play a key role in making it fast around a racetrack.
It gets a swan-necked rear wing, new air vents and an adjustable front diffuser. The GT4 RS also sits 30mm lower than the standard Cayman. According to Porsche, all of this has resulted in the GT4 RS having 10 percent more downforce compared to the GT4, and it goes up to 60 percent in the track-oriented performance mode. The rear quarter glass has also been scooped out to enhance airflow to the engine, and Porsche says this improves the soundtrack as well.