Porsche finally delivers an RS version of its ballistic Cayman GT4 hero, and our two testers get to sample one on closed Targa roads.
JULES: Why do we have keys to what looks like a Porsche racing car? Have we won lotto?
IAIN: Basically, yes. We’ve been assigned Porsche’s ultimate mid-engined sports car to drive in the Targa High Country Porsche Tour.
JULES: In a Cayman GT4 RS? As in the $312,000 road-going weapon sharing its engine with Porsche’s 911 GT3 road and race cars?
IAIN: The very same. Although ours is around $375,000 drive-away courtesy of option boxes ticked.
JULES: Wow. So with this car, at this Targa Tour, we’ve infiltrated the wealthy Porsche enthusiast playground?
IAIN: Indeed. And fair play to those who properly use their Porsches. It’s $9900 to enter, buying you and a co-driver closed road rally stages on some epic routes, accommodation, meals and technical support.
JULES: Closed roads are classified race tracks, so you’re not covered by insurance.
IAIN: Er, no. Which is why we’re going to be very, very careful.
JULES: Surely the meanest, extremist Cayman ever?
IAIN: Yep. The entry 2.0-litre Cayman starts from $122,000, there’s a 2.5-litre ‘S’, then the hero non-turbo 4.0-litre GTS, GT4 and GT4 RS. Adding ‘RS’ means $90k over a ‘normal’ GT4.
JULES: It’s gone too Porsche nerd for me. Just give me hardware details.
IAIN: With 368kW and 450Nm it’s the most powerful Cayman ever, revving to an ear drum-shattering 9000rpm. Carbon intakes channel air into the mid-mounted engine right behind the two seats. The noise is extraordinary and addictive.
JULES: You have my attention.
IAIN: It’s lower and fatter than a normal Cayman, shares components with the brutal 911 GT3 RS, has active damping, brakes the size of dart boards and a PDK dual clutch switching gears in milliseconds.
JULES: Not subtle to look at, either.
IAIN: The optional ($33,000) Weissach package helps. It includes exposed carbon-weave for the bonnet, airbox and obscenely huge adjustable rear wing; 10kg-lighter forged magnesium 20-inch wheels, titanium tailpipes and titanium roll cage.
JULES: The cabin’s a masterpiece, as expected for the price. The carbon seats, like the steering wheel, dashboard and trim are coated in very racy Alcantara.
IAIN: Porsche calls it Race-Tex. You sit so low, controls are relatively simple and analog dash dials have a beautiful old-school font – who needs digital fripperies? Oh, the speedo goes to 330km/h and the tacho 10,000rpm. That makes me smile.
DRIVING AT MAXIMUM ATTACK
JULES: It’s not a road car. This is a race car.
IAIN: Nonsense. It has license plates. Although the three-hour drive to Mt Buller’s Targa start was testing.
JULES: The seats have reasonable padding, but you sit bolt upright. Hit a bump and your spine hates you, and it’s comical trying to use the touchscreen or cup holders with all the jittering.
IAIN: Who cares when they close Mt Buller’s 16km road so you can attack almost 1000 vertical metres of climbing?
JULES: Limited to 100km/h thanks to a Motorsport Australia rule change.
IAIN: That didn’t go down well. But on such a twisty road it barely matters.
JULES: My God the sound!
IAIN: Like no other road car I’ve tested. In manual mode it lets you find the 9000rpm limit, and you can’t help but yelp. It’s raw, boisterous, glorious and even emotional.
JULES: Take that, electric cars. I can’t believe the engine’s pull to match the perfect, giggle-bringing roar.
IAIN: 100km/h arrives in 3.4 seconds, but it’s the cornering speed, insane grip and confidence-giving balance that stays with you.
JULES: ‘On rails’ and ‘limpet-like’ are clichéd, but it’s true. How the RS turns in feels impossible.
IAIN: The steering feedback, ship’s anchor-like braking and the way it’ll kick out its tail so controllably can make a driving hero of anyone.
JULES: I know you’d love a manual, but the PDK is a revelation. It telepathically drops into the correct, high rev gear, blipping the throttle as you brake. I’m ready for the Bathurst 12 Hour.
BUT THERE ARE COMPROMISES
IAIN: Nothing you can say will turn me off this GT4 RS.
JULES: It’s so low you must option a $4900 front end lift kit. There’s only space for a carry-on bag and one soft bag. The wing and roll cage destroy rear visibility. Seat sides are rock solid and bruised me as I climbed in and out.
IAIN: Hmmm. Nobody said it was a daily driver. I love how this car performs, but it needs a track or closed Targa roads as we’ve experienced. Most owners will probably have a 911, Macan SUV and electric Taycan in the garage too.
JULES: What about safety and economy?
IAIN: It’s free to option a Club Sport Package – a roll cage, six-point seat belt harness and fire extinguisher. You don’t need modern driver assist aids because you will always, always be at maximum concentration.
JULES: We averaged 13.1L/100km overall. I’ve seen worse in giant SUVs in town. It’s a fine way to burn fossil fuels.
IAIN: Porsche is churning out as many hero cars as it can before the EV takeover. The GT4 RS is an epic road-going racer overflowing with talent and fun, taking driver reward into the stratosphere. But you really, really need a racetrack.
JULES: I can see why owners need a closed-road Targa event. A GT4 RS is so hard to appreciate at legal speed limits. It’s so mad, animalistic and expensive. It’s also the most memorable and exciting car I’ve ever driven.
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