by Jake Lingeman
The Porsche Cayman and Boxster share an architecture now, but it was the Boxster that first hit the scene in 1996, while the Cayman didn't show up until the second generation of the platform in 2005. Porsche built increasingly more aggressive versions of the midengine coupe starting in 2016, which leads us to the new 2022 Cayman GT4 RS, the highest performance Cayman ever built (for the street).
It cribs the naturally aspirated 911 GT3 flat-six for power along with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It also comes with a ton of aerodynamic enhancements compared to the GT4 and weighs less too. With pro driver Joerg Bergmeister at the wheel, it completed a lap of the Nurburgring (the longer layout) in 7 minutes, 9.3 seconds. On the slightly shorter track everyone used to use for timing, it cut that time to 7 minutes, 4.5 seconds, on par with the Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro and almost touched the Dodge Viper ACR.
It debuted this week at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show along with its track-only twin, the GT4 RS Clubsport. That car ditches all the creature comforts, while this RS can still be driven daily, for three seasons at least.
See trim levels and configurations:
|Cayman GT4 RS||
4.0L Flat 6 Gas
The GT4 RS features a 4.0-liter flat-six making 493 hp at 8,400 rpm (an increase of 79 hp compared to GT4) and 331 lb-ft of torque (compared to 317 lb-ft in the GT4). The RS will skip to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds (a half-second quicker than the GT4), on its way to a top speed of 196 mph. As it's made for lap times, the GT4 RS doesn't offer a manual transmission, just its excellent PDK with paddle shifters.
On the suspension side, the GT4 RS comes with unique ball joints that "contribute to an even higher level of precision and responsiveness." The setup is adjustable, with specific damper, spring and anti-roll bar settings. It rides on 20-inch aluminum wheels with center locks, a first on the 718 Cayman. But what really benefits the GT4 RS are the weight savings and tweaked aerodynamics.
The 2022 Cayman GT4 RS is differentiated from the regular Cayman with its carbon fiber reinforced plastic front fenders and hood. The rear window is made of lightweight glass and the new fixed rear wing with swan neck mounts (that means the mounts attach on top of the wing), borrowed from the 911 RSR, keeps the GT4 RS planted at speed.
It rides lower than the GT4 by about an inch and comes with front-wheel vents, which relieve pressure in the wheel wells, an optimized underbody, rear diffuser, adjustable front diffuser, new side blades and a new spoiler lip. All of that is good for 25% more downforce when the GT4 RS is in its most aggressive mode.
The insides of the GT4 RS look a lot like the regular Cayman. It does get more "Race-Tex," Porsche's term for Alcantara suede, and more carbon fiber. It has lightweight carpets too, and lightweight door panels and lightweight fabric door pulls instead of handles. This isn't a full-on race car so we still get an infotainment screen in front of the shifter.
If you want to go even crazier, you can spec the Weissach Package for $13,250. It comes with Porsche's Race-Tex suede option inside, along with Porsche script on the rear window. It adds a ton more carbon fiber, replacing the rear wing, air box lid, exterior mirror caps, air intakes and a luggage compartment with the material. The exhaust tips are swapped with titanium pieces, though the rest of the pipes stay the same. Buyers can option magnesium wheels too, but those are an extra cost.
The best Porsche Cayman you can drive on the street does come at a price. The GT4 RS starts at $143,050 including destination, and it will hit dealers next summer for all of your weekend track-day needs.
That price puts it between the 911 Carrera GTS and Carrera GTS Cabrio, but it has more power than both. One could argue the 911 has more utility than the Cayman with its negligible-but-existing rear seat and extra cargo space. Those 911s do come in a couple of hundred pounds heavier, though.
There aren't many straight competitors to the Cayman GT4 RS, but if we had to pick, the BMW M2 CS fits the bill well, besides the price. It delivers 444 hp from a 3.0-liter I6, but it does it for just $84,595. The Lotus Evora GT might be up there too. It brings 416 hp for about $100,000.
Those are both very good cars, but neither will have that handling-on-rails and lightweight change of direction feel that the GT4 RS has. Of course, you'll pay about 50% more. If that's worth it to you, we couldn't think of a better daily driver with a track day edge. Actually, we can't think of a better Porsche, period.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS: