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Car Review

Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS review

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Published: 22 Mar 2022
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

What’s it like to drive?

Dwelling on facts and figures isn’t really the GT4 RS’ style, the measure of success here is how much you’re grinning like a chimp… and it’s impossible not to get wrapped up in the experience. Throttle response can be a little flat at low revs, but keep the engine on the boil and it's instant. The incentive is always there to drive it hard, and with peak power and torque way up in the rev range, you have to pin it to get the most out of it.

Do so and the brakes (ceramics on the car we drove) are unflappable, while the steering feels so natural you quickly forget you’re operating a wheel at all… just picking the line you want to hit, leaning on the front end and creaming it up the next straight. It’s all so organic – each control feels like the weight’s been tailored to you, each response from the car is precisely what you’re expecting. To be fair, it’s the stuff we already knew Porsche does better than anybody, the surprise package is the suspension. No double wishbones at the front, like the GT3, but a stiffer set up with the same spring and damper rates as the 991 GT2 RS...

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And the result is…?

Well, you could have fooled us, because in the softer of two settings there’s a compliance that belies the track-rat looks. An ability to round off cracks and holes and bring the car back under tight control in a single oscillation. This is quality damping, and as a result it’s a brilliant road car because it moves with the road surface rather than pinging off it. On the motorway, closing the flaps on the sports exhaust reduces a chunk of background drone, so it even settles into a quiet-ish seventh-gear cruise. You could do big distance in this, definitely wasn’t expecting that.

Why no manual gearbox?

OK, let’s address the elephant in the room: would this car with a manual gearbox be something we’d all enjoy? Unquestionably, but Porsche is adamant it’s not an RS thing, and given how feral the performance is at no point were we ungrateful for having two hands on the wheel. Anyway, the gearshift on this seven-speed PDK is an event in itself – all hydraulic hiss and mechanical wallop.

Pinging an upshift at 9,000rpm might not be as taxing as a perfectly timed clutch dip, but it’s a thing of extreme satisfaction, nonetheless. And there’s more good news, it has the shortest gear ratios of any GT model to date. Second takes you to 72mph at 9,000rpm, compared to 79mph at 8,100rpm in the GT4. In practice that means you can leave it in second for tight hairpins, and third can demolish everything else. On the public road at least.

And on the track?

God this chassis is good. More naturally playful than a 911, it wants to rotate – slightly as you turn in on the brakes, and slightly more when you feed the power in on the exit - but it’s never anything but wonderfully balanced. It’s a car you drive with your fingertips, not your shoulders. If your name’s The Stig then 90mph bonfire drifts are there for the taking, of course, but I’d argue that a 493bhp Cayman’s ability to eviscerate a set of rear tyres is the least surprising thing about it. What sets it apart is there are layers here. Enough grip, enough depth of talent in the chassis and enough performance to keep a pro-driver amused on their days off, but enough approachability and bombastic character, even at relatively low speeds, for a complete novice to be blown away.

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