ROSAMUND, California – With fourteen corners packed into the 1.6-mile circuit, Streets of Willow is a good, technical street course the place sports activities vehicles packing 200 to 250 horsepower sometimes appear to shine the brightest – assume Subaru BRZ, Honda S2000, Mazda Miata and the like. But even with twice the ability on faucet, the 2022 Porsche Cayman GT4 RS carves a surgical line via the zigzagging tarmac, effortlessly devours the straights, after which appears to ask, “Is that every one you’ve got received?”
The promise of the GT4 RS has been a very long time coming. For the reason that Cayman’s unique debut again in 2005, Porsche has produced a string of progressively stronger iterations of its mid-engined sports activities automotive, however vocal members of the peanut gallery posited that the automaker would at all times maintain the platform again from its true efficiency potential as a consequence of issues about it probably outshining the 911. It may very well be argued that the notion was put to mattress again in 2016 with the introduction of the previous-generation Cayman GT4 (aka the 981), but when there was any lingering doubt left, the brand new GT4 RS (aka 982) has decidedly ended the dialogue.
The large headline is the powerplant, which is a completely completely different mill from the 4.0-liter, naturally aspirated flat-six that motivates the 982 Cayman GT4. Plucked from present 911 GT3 (992) ostensibly unchanged – its deficit of 10 horsepower and 15 pound-feet versus the GT3 chalked as much as the backpressure created by the Cayman’s longer exhaust system – the 4.0-liter flat-six good for 493 hp and 331 lb-ft bestows the GT4 RS with the GT3’s prodigious grunt in addition to its hovering 9,000-rpm redline. Right here the aspect scoops which are positioned simply behind the doorways present engine cooling as a substitute of feeding the throttle our bodies, and with the loud pedal pinned to the floorboard, the flat-six’s banshee wail competes with the sound of air dashing into new RS-specific intakes which are put in the place the rear quarter home windows would usually be, proper behind the occupants’ heads.
However there’s much more occurring right here than simply an engine swap. As a result of that flat-six is mounted backwards relative to its orientation within the 911, engineers wanted to develop a brand new seven-speed PDK gearbox particularly for the GT4 RS. It makes use of the identical gear and axle ratios used within the previous-generation 911 GT3 RS PDK, which Porsche says successfully makes this probably the most aggressively-geared GT mannequin produced to this point, whereas ancillary elements just like the dual-mass flywheel come straight from the GT4 Clubsport race automotive.
Supporting the beefed up powertrain is a bunch of chassis tweaks that embrace the mixing of the previous-generation Carrera 4 entrance construction to enhance rigidity, using ball joints for all of the connection factors on the entrance and rear axles, revised dampers, and elevated spring charges throughout. Stopping energy is bolstered by the bigger commonplace cast-iron entrance brakes from the GT3 with cooling enhancements offered by new wheel properly air guides in addition to the NACA ducts on the hood. That hood is made from a carbon fiber, by the best way, as are the 911 GT1-inspired entrance fenders. On the aerodynamic entrance, enhancements just like the adjustable entrance diffuser and swan neck rear wing additionally present as much as 25% extra downforce than the usual GT4 at 125 mph.
Mounted-back carbon bucket seats come commonplace within the GT4 RS, however sport seats are additionally provided as a no-cost possibility. In case you go for the latter, nonetheless, I might argue that you just’re doing it unsuitable. These buckets are surprisingly snug regardless of the aggressive bolstering, and since they place you decrease within the automotive, even taller drivers like myself can discover a really perfect seating place with a helmet on and nonetheless have headroom to spare.
With comparatively quick straights and tight corners, Streets of Willow tends to showcase a automotive’s chassis stability and get in touch with patch greater than anything, however Porsche’s resolution to run the observe counter-clockwise threw an attention-grabbing curveball into the combo. After spending a lap getting re-acclimated whereas chasing Porsche manufacturing facility driver Patrick Lengthy in a 911 Turbo S, the tempo rapidly started to ramp up and it began to make sense.
The structure allowed us to fly flat-out via the chicane main as much as the again straight, which successfully prolonged the size of that straight and allowed us to construct up extra pace earlier than quickly scrubbing it off and diving into the steep banking of the bowl that serves because the centerpiece of the course. From there it is a sequence of more and more demanding corners that check precision, persistence, and grip earlier than the course opens again up for a dash again down onto the primary straight.
I usually prefer to deal with swapping the cogs myself, however with the fast modifications in pace and path on this course, I opted to let the PDK do its personal factor for the primary few classes. With quick, seamless shifts and near-clairvoyant programming in PDK Sport mode, the transmission dutifully stored the engine within the meaty elements of the powerband always for optimum response.
However doing so additionally results in plenty of quick shifts. For the sake of my very own ego and a want to listen to that flat-six wind out to 9,000 RPM as usually as potential, I made a decision to bump the shifter over to handbook mode for a session later within the day to see how I might fare on the paddles. Though nowhere close to as environment friendly, it is a considerably extra involving and visceral expertise for the reason that noises solely get higher because the revs climb, and I found that the flat-six additionally has no hassle pulling the automotive out of slower corners with authority once you’re in a gear increased than what’s perfect.
Porsche offered two completely different vehicles for our observe classes – one with the Weissach Package deal and one other with out. Though the enhancements are primarily beauty, choosing the Weissach Package deal permits consumers to verify the field for the elective magnesium wheels that had been fitted to the Arctic Grey instance that you just see right here. Whereas each vehicles had been outfitted with the usual Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires (the even-stickier Pilot Sport Cup 2 R is on the market as a dealer-installed possibility), the good thing about the decreased rotating mass provided by these sharp-looking mags was evident due to extra responsive preliminary turn-in and decreased ABS intervention within the huge braking zones on the ends of the back and front straights.
These Cup 2 Rs undoubtedly would have allowed for even higher tempo, however the GT4 RS definitely is not missing for grip with out them. Paired with a fast, communicative steering rack and the unyielding stopping energy of the elective carbon ceramic brakes, the automotive is a honed weapon on a race observe that is consistently offering details about what the tires and chassis are doing.
And there are not any surprises: working as if the driving force is the middle of mass, the GT4 RS is playful and approachable on the restrict regardless of its aggressive tuning. Whereas a 911 GT3 is a uniquely rewarding driving expertise partially as a consequence of its engine placement, the Cayman GT4 RS is an intuitive instrument of pace that merely does precisely what you inform it to do. With a beginning value that places it in the identical ballpark because the GT3 (once you’re this deep into six digits, $141,700 versus 161,100 qualifies), it appears inevitable that some will attempt to suss out which machine is finally the higher sports activities automotive. Contemplating how carefully matched the 2 are in terms of outright efficiency, it is largely a subjective endeavor.
One factor’s for positive, although: At a time limit when downsizing, turbocharging and hybridizing have change into the order of the day, the GT4 RS philosophically stands in direct opposition to present automotive traits. And if ideas just like the Mission R function foreshadowing, it is clear that the longer term is on the best way whether or not we’re prepared for it or not. With that in thoughts, traditionalists can be sensible to smoke ’em whereas we have got ’em.