What: Porsche's compact track day special
Where: Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW
Conditions: Cool, night
What is it?
Porsche is farewelling this final petrol-powered version of its mid-engine, compact sports car with its ultimate track-tuned iteration. The 718 Cayman GT4 RS is, in simple terms, the smaller brother to the 911 GT3 RS.
It has been given a major overhaul, with a more powerful engine, new suspension and more dramatic aerodynamic set-up. It's likely to be the last of its kind, with Porsche planning to make the 718 range electric in the near-future.
Why does it deserve a track test?
Because it's designed for the track. It's powered by the same engine that's used in the 911 Carrera Cup racer and has been developed at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, where it has lapped at 7:04.511 minutes, which is 23 seconds faster the 718 Cayman GT4 that sits just below it in the range.
What's it like inside?
Purposeful is the word that springs to mind. Especially your test car, as it was fitted with the optional Weissach Package that adds six-point racing harnesses and a half roll cage, to a cabin that already includes racing-style seats and an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheels.
But it's not a spartan and uncomfortable cabin either, with all the usual comforts you expect, including air-conditioning, navigation and a good infotainment system.
How's it go down the straights?
Very quickly thanks to its 4.0-litre flat-six engine that's taken from the 911 GT3 and 911 GT3 Cup car. It makes 368kW of power and 450Nm of torque, which may not be huge numbers these days but when you factor in the GT4 RS weighs only 1415kg it's more than enough to make it accelerate hard. Porsche claims the car will run 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of 315km/h.
What's more, the way it delivers that performance is special, with the engine revving to 9000rpm. The sound of the GT4 RS is one of those elements that really stands out. There's less sound-deadening material and a lightweight stainless steel exhaust, so even at street speed it doesn't sound like a typical 718 Cayman and instead is clearly something special and different.
Coming onto Sydney Motorsport Park's front straight and unleashing the full potential of the engine is really special, with the noise sounding more and more like a Cup car as you let the tacho needle run all the way to the redline.
What's it like in the bends?
The standard 718 Cayman is a great car to drive, with a playful and composed chassis. The 718 Cayman GT4 RS feels like a different machine thanks to the extensive changes Porsche has made.
For example, the entire front axle is different, with the company swapping the standard 718 set-up for the MacPherson strut layout from the 911 GT3 RS. This makes a dramatic difference to the handling, with the system deliberately designed to deal with high-speed track use.
The GT4 RS is 30mm lower than the standard 718 and the track is 6mm wider at the front and 8mm wider at the rear, which helps make it feel more stable when cornering at speed.
The steering is fantastic too, perfectly weighted and incredibly direct and responsive.
Then there's the stopping power, with the GT4 RS using huge 408mm cast-iron and aluminium composite discs up front, which are 28mm bigger than the Cayman GT4, and clamped by six-piston callipers. They stay strong on the track thanks to the two NACA ducts integrated into the bonnet, which feed cold air directly to them.
The GT4 RS rides on 20-inch alloy wheels with a centre-lock nut and wrapped in tyres measuring 245/35 at the front and 295/30 at the rear. Typically these are Michelin Pilot Sport tyres but our test car was fitted with Pirelli P Zeros.
All of these elements combine to make the GT4 RS a truly brilliant track car. The 911 GT3 may be the benchmark for now, but its little brother doesn't feel too far behind. It's incredibly direct when cornering, allowing you to place it with precision or manipulate it mid-corner if needed.
The braking power is incredible, allowing you to slam the pedal with confidence everytime and push deeper and deeper into the bends. Even when the Pirelli tyres struggle for grip in the cooler night temperatures, the GT4 RS still holds on and allows you to keep pushing.
Is it a front-runner or backmarker?
The 718 Cayman has always been the ‘little brother' to the 911 and never felt like a true equal. For those lucky enough to get their hands on the 718 Cayman GT4 RS they'll find themselves in a car that may not quite be the equal to its 911 equivalent on the stopwatch, but in driving terms it feels every inch as good.