by Karl Furlong
At nearly $150,000 for a coupe that is smaller than a Mazda 3 Hatchback, the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS initially looks like not much car for a considerable sum of money. But Porsche has managed to squeeze as much performance and dynamism out of the Cayman's tiny frame as possible to create the GT4 RS. The fastest street-legal Cayman ever, the GT4 RS has been engineered to shine equally brightly on the track. Whereas the 911 GT3 has its engine at the back, the GT4 RS's 4.0-liter flat-six is mid-mounted and makes 493 horsepower. Porsche claims a 0-60 mph time of only 3.2 seconds - exactly the same claimed time as the more powerful and pricier 911 GT3. However, the hottest Cayman only comes with Porsche's dual-clutch automatic gearbox. With less weight to lug around and greater downforce than the Cayman GT4 with the dual-clutch, the GT4 RS is a staggeringly capable track toy. Whereas the standard Cayman competes with the likes of the Audi TT RS and BMW M2, the GT4 RS is several notches above those in terms of price and performance. Another mid-engine rival is the new, more powerful Chevy Corvette Z06. More than anything, the Cayman GT4 RS makes the strongest case yet for skipping the pricier 911.
Introduced for the 2022 model year, the still-fresh Cayman GT4 RS continues without any major changes for 2023. It retains the 493-hp 4.0-liter flat-six engine, aerodynamic enhancements, and lightweight construction that sets it apart from other Caymans.
Starting at $149,100, the 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS's price makes it by far the most expensive Cayman. The new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS's price excludes any options as well as a destination and handling charge of $1,450. One of the priciest extras is the Weissach Package at $13,250.
By comparison, the cheapest Cayman will cost only $63,400 but it's not nearly as exciting as the GT4 RS. Depending on how much you want to spend, the Cayman GTS 4.0 at $90,300 might be a happy middle ground between the base Cayman and the GT4 RS.
See trim levels and configurations:
|Cayman GT4 RS||
4.0L Flat 6 Gas
Few other street-legal cars come close to the 2023 718 Cayman GT4 RS for sheer thrills behind the wheel. Porsche equipped the RS with specific dampers along with modified spring and anti-roll bar rates. It also has 25% more downforce than the Cayman GT4 thanks to additions like the fixed rear wing, and it's close to 50 pounds lighter than the normal GT4 PDK because of changes like the use of CFRP and lightweight glass for the rear window.
The steering is delightfully responsive and isn't shy to inform the driver of exactly what the front wheels are doing. Coupled with available Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires and widened tracks, the GT4 RS has grip aplenty and understeer is brilliantly kept at bay. The mechanically locking rear differential and torque vectoring improve agility and help to inspire confidence as the speeds rise. The balance of the chassis is exemplary, and with almost 500 hp underfoot, you can coax the car into controllable oversteer on corner exits. While the basic suspension setup isn't as sophisticated as the 911 GT3's, the GT4 gets awfully close to its bigger sibling; both are supreme driver's cars. The tweaks made to the GT4 RS resulted in a Nurburgring time - around the shorter 12.8-mile stretch of the circuit - of 7:04.511 minutes, a full 23.6 seconds quicker than the Cayman GT4. Over the longer, more recently introduced 12.944-mile stretch, the GT4 RS managed a time of 7:09.300 minutes.
Matching the poise of the chassis is the sublime flat-six that sounds louder than ever since the RS does without the regular Cayman's sound-deadening. The dual-clutch rifles through the gears with alacrity, but some will still wish for a manual.
A fly in the ointment of our Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS's review is the ride, which can be predictably harsh. Combined with the constant commotion from the engine bay, it can be tiring on longer trips or when you're simply heading to the shops on a lazy Sunday afternoon. For the most part, though, Porsche has delivered another legendary track car.
The 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS comes remarkably close to matching the 911 GT3 - and that's the highest praise we can bestow upon the smaller sports car. With that central airbox unleashing the flat-six's full scream and an interior bereft of any unnecessary embellishments, the GT4 RS is all about the joy of the drive. Porsche has once again pulled off a masterclass in chassis and steering tuning, creating a track toy that does everything exceedingly well. The speed and responsiveness have been elevated to extreme heights, and even though we would've liked the option of a manual, the dual-clutch auto is one of the best of its kind. At $149,100 in the USA, the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS's competitors do show it up in terms of price, with the new Chevy Corvette Z06 costing $44,100 less. Then again, the GT4 could be viewed as the perfect answer for customers unwilling to stretch to the equally thrilling 911 GT3. If you can live with the hard ride and lack of advanced driver aids but simply want one of the best street-legal track cars money can buy, the new Porsche Cayman GT4 RS coupe is the car for the job.
There aren't multiple Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS trims or models so that makes deciding which one to buy a bit simpler. It's tempting to leave the Cayman GT4 RS exactly as it is but the Weissach Package does add a touch of exclusivity to this special car. It's also worth testing the standard seats as the 18-way adaptive seats will be more comfortable. For track use, we'd go for the ceramic composite brakes and the Chrono Package, and the front axle lift system is especially useful. Adding all these options takes the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS MSRP up to $177,310 including the destination charge. Many other configurations are available depending on the materials and colors that appeal to you most.
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