Menu toggle


05 Dec 2022

Punching out – the 718 GT4 RS

Is the new GT4 RS the perfect end to the ICE 718?  

That Porsche has finally built the car it seemed determined to avoid for several generations speaks volumes about where we all are on our collective automotive journey. A full fat Rennsport derivative of the mid-engine 718 family was always going to threaten the pre-eminence of the larger, rear-engine 911 but, with its next generation of two-seater sports cars earmarked for electrification, Porsche has pulled out all the stops at last. The 718 Cayman GT4 RS promises to be a fitting final flourish, a long-awaited last hurrah that will surely echo across the relative silence of the coming decade.

While it remains essential that Porsche preserves the near-mythical status of its larger GT cars - and the new 911 GT3 RS announced on P6 looks certain to do just that - this latest and ultimate incarnation of the 718 is still like nothing that has gone before. Last year's GT4 used a naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine borrowed from the current series 911, but the RS inherits the GT3's far gutsier and more sonorous race-derived unit, here making a fractionally lower 493bhp due merely to the challenges of efficiently expelling exhaust gases from a mid-engine car. Peak torque is still 450Nm and the redline remains a vertiginous 9,000rpm. The transmission is exclusively seven-speed PDK, as is the case with all RS models, but here it is markedly shorter-geared than that of a regular GT4.

To look at, the GT4 RS makes no bones about those motorsport origins, with wider front and rear track beneath beefier wings (vented over the front arches, of course) alongside new and super-aggressive front and rear spoilers and NACA ducts on the bonnet. The cars sits 30mm lower on centre-lock 20-inch forged alloy wheels and the rear quarter glass has been replaced by bespoke air intakes feeding an airbox right behind the driver's head. This particular car is also fitted with the optional Weissach and Clubsport Packages, which leaves the carbon bonnet bare, turns that new intake system into a striking all-carbon affair and adds a titanium half cage and titanium exhaust tips among a host of smaller visual cues. It's not a subtle thing, the GT4 RS. And that's before you've even turned it on.

Inside, the motorsport theme continues with Race-Tex, Porsche's in-house alternative to Alcantara, covering pretty much everything that isn't made of glass. The seats in this press car are the much-vaunted new JD-printed full-buckets, specified here with a medium firmness. They are so comfortable and supportive when it matters that you never give them another thought. Perhaps that's the ultimate compliment.

On the move, as is so reliably the case with Porsche's GT products, the tractability of a car with so much performance and so little road-biased compromise is surprising. There is that menacing background chatter from the engine at low speeds, but the GT4 RS is immediately intuitive, easy
and unthreatening to drive and that's a facet that continues even when the speeds become significantly less low. For a car with so much competition DNA, and with the capacity to lap circuits at speeds rarely seen from anything with an MOT, it is astonishingly happy over the typical British B-road, its just-so ride quality absorbing the bumps without punishing the driver, the steering an ideal balance of feel without fidget. Curiously, it doesn’t feel particularly harsh in terms of road noise either – something that has plagued 911s in the recent past.

But noise is not in short supply, should you want it. Even at 3,500rpm, the GT4 RS sounds imposing. By 6,000rpm, things have gone somewhere else entirely and, by 8,500, still shy of the limiter, there’s an end-of-days cacophony in the cockpit that would be nothing short of terrifying were you not in a position to shut it off at will. At those sorts of revs, in any gear, the combination of physical, aural and visual sensations would be more than most could bear but for the fact that the GT4 RS is so responsive to throttle and steering input that you trust it in every respect so quickly and utterly.

Equipped with the costly but excellent carbon ceramic brake option, it also stops with the certainty and immediacy you’d want from a car with such scarcely credible performance. Light and lithe, the new RS devours the road with hypercar appetite, yet will thread its way through a tricky series of narrow bends with the casual aplomb of a well-sorted hot hatch. In truth, it’s hard to imagine the circumstance where this car would feel in any way wanting, and that includes a high mileage holiday or mind-numbing commute.

Of course, many owners will be heading straight to the nearest circuit, where a far more advanced aerodynamic package than the current GT4 enjoys increases of downforce by 25 per cent at three-figure speeds thanks to underfloor venturis as well as the visible wings and splitters. The RS also benefits from a bespoke PASM damping set-up and adjustable anti-roll bars and wheel alignment, allowing for endless fettling for the perfect individual track set-up. This is a car you really could use every day or tailor to your most exacting weekend needs.

The GT4 RS retails from £108,370, over £26,000 more than the GT4, and that’s before you add £11,186 for the Weissach Package and roll cage, £1,895 for those printed seats and £1,835 for the fairly essential front axle lift system. But it makes little sense to compare the two. This highly-specced press car was £133,549 all-in, still cheaper than a basic 911 GT3. Find some middle ground with the options list and you have a something of a bargain on your hands. Alongside the forthcoming RS Spyder, the 718 Cayman GT4 RS represents a high-water mark not just for the 718, but for Porsche’s twilight era in naturally aspirated combustion engineering. It’s a pleasure merely to bear witness.

Let us help you unlock the potential of your Porsche

Join now