Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS on test

A cataract during the test: the eyesight shouldn't suffer with the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS. The ears are more likely, after all, at 9,000 rpm there is up to 105 dB(A) on the eardrum – helmet on and off we go.

The temptation is just too tempting. Which one exactly? Well, to start this test with the sound of the six-cylinder boxer engine of the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS. Where: This clicking and pattering - that does not come from the engine. These are the small stones that the front semi-slicks pick up from the asphalt and throw past the slimmed CFRP fenders, directly into the side air intakes made of visible carbon. There, the pebbles get caught on the fine-meshed honeycomb wire and collect in the lower body gap, so that you actually need a brush or broom to sweep them out there. I can guess what you're thinking now: is this going to end up being a Swabian Kehrwoche for sports car drivers?

This sound is music

In any case, this kind of purism is otherwise only known from racing cars or trackday conversions that have been cleared out. And actually we also thought we knew it, the 718 Cayman, and of course the 4.0-liter naturally aspirated engine. In Flacht – where Porsche’s GT department and racing squad is based – they first ripped the latter from the rear of the 911 GT3, then trained it off five kilograms, rotated it 180 degrees and planted the GT4 RS directly behind the ultra-light carbon bucket seats. There he rages now, in the center of the vehicle, becoming the linchpin(s) of the driving experience. Although with 500 hp it officially loses ten hp in the extended exhaust tract – according to the performance measurement even a further eight – the change of location gives it more vocal power. Because the small, triangular rear windows give way to additional intakes. These are therefore directly at ear level.

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Just a little stroke of the gas pedal or tug on the black rocker switch with the stamped yellow minus symbol is enough: The ultra-fast PDK shifts down, the sucker doesn't take a breath, it inhales it. The agricultural machine-like restless rattling and humming of the low to medium speed ranges, which brings back memories of the air-cooled past - it suddenly gives way to a boxer primal scream. The absence of two and a half kilograms of insulation material, in connection with the aforesaid suction, is like yelling directly into the stethoscope at the family doctor during the annual check-up. The boxer sound winds its way so brutally into the auditory canals. You can hear exactly how the blood boils and rushes through the arteries at every speed, while the heart muscle contracts faster and faster.

We measure 105 dB(A) at maximum speed: This is by far the highest value that our measuring device has ever displayed. More than all the Lambo, Ferrari and of course 911 GT3, which always stayed close to the hundred barrier.And just for classification: an increase in sound pressure by three dB(A) corresponds to a doubling of the perceived volume.

PDK: No one moves faster

But before it escalates, let's slow down. Of course, that's not possible, because the double-clutch transmission in the GT4 RS is without alternative in the price list. It's a pity really, because you can nudge the selector lever sequentially to shift down or pull it to shift up. But that doesn't create the same connection as a perfectly positioned lever that you tear through the streets in a self-determined manner. But so be it. The decision in favor of the PDK is understandable. After all, the next gear is not only there faster, it is also available earlier. In general: Hardly any other transmission works as perfectly, as precisely as the double clutch. The short translation and the measured power ensure that the Cayman pulls through even at 250 km/h in seventh gear – there is nothing with overdrive here. Of course, you also notice this at the gas station. Because you drive more often with a test consumption of 12.5 liters per 100 km, especially since the tank shrinks by ten to 54 liters.

Austerity measures here and there

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But we wanted to take it easy, right? Even civilized conversations are possible with grumpy half-throttle between three and four thousand revolutions. What else is there to do when there is a huge hole in the dashboard that would otherwise house the 5.5-kilo infotainment system. By the way, the waiver is a free option. This is probably understood as the art of omission: After all, Porsche has always been a world champion when it comes to asking more for less. The top Cayman starts at 144,194 euros, with the test car with Weissach and Clubsport package, ceramic brake system and magnesium rims ending up at 184,553 euros.

Sounds expensive and puristic? It's not that sparse inside. Sure, you grab the door loops instead of pulling on the handles. But that's now part of GT folklore. The windows whirr up and down electrically, while air conditioning keeps heads cool. You don't see bare metal either, but there is neatly sewn leather and fluffy Alcantara, which they call Racetex at Porsche. It's a pity, however, that they apparently only had a cutter knife ready to cut openings for the additional straps in the back wall.

Everyday life? Hmm, not really.

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A bluish shimmering three-point seat belt also hangs on the B-pillar for everyday use. But if only because the driver's five-point belt dangles between his legs and, of course, because of the racing feeling, the harness belts are put on. By the way, you can easily get into the GT4 RS without a basic yoga course. The high cheeks of the standard carbon shells want to be overcome.But these fit right away, just as if they had cast them at Porsche just for you. In fact, that is also possible: for an additional charge of 2,678 euros, they scan your behind and then model the shell. But even without the seats are surprisingly long-distance.

Of course, this Cayman is not intended for long weekend strolls - although you can actually pack two trolleys under the hood at the front. In everyday use, however, the Uniball chassis simply lacks the rubber and the MacPherson struts lack the spring travel to effectively mitigate bumps. On country roads whose last asphalt manicure is a few winters overdue, it shakes you badly. In addition, the contact with the ground quickly breaks off there, but this only becomes a problem if you throw out ESP and traction control with the push of a button beforehand.

Heavy lightweight

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By the way, this is one of the few buttons here in the cockpit. Yes, they save weight in Flacht where they can. Overall, they want to have wrested another 35 kg from the RS compared to the GT4. The test car even wears outrageously expensive magnesium shoes, which alone save almost ten kilos and reduce unsprung masses. Stupid that you only get the bikes if you book the Weissach package. And because it's stabilized, you order the Clubsport package with a roll cage, which not only makes it difficult to see to the rear, but also the car.

This GT4 RS weighs 1,435 kilograms. It's not super lightweight. Strictly speaking, it even weighs a few kilos more than a current, significantly larger 911 GT3 with manual transmission. Uff, we wouldn't have necessarily expected that. Where is the dog buried? The question might be more like: How long is he there? Because the Cayman design is presumably older than that of the 911, which uses even more lightweight materials. The good news: you hardly notice anything of the mass. By the way, not when braking either: so now step on the iron at 100 km/h, the rattling of the five-point belts on the passenger seat bows to the centrifugal forces, because of course you always forget to latch the belts together. But since the RS is already standing still after 32.1 meters.

From twice the speed, the path quadruples - yes, that's physics and terrifically good. The ceramic brakes, which cost 7,914 euros, bite just as relentlessly, even after several laps on the track. But when the negative longitudinal and lateral acceleration is added, there is a bit of unrest in the rear despite the activated ESP: The hindquarters seem to be released by overbraking, whereupon the ESP regulates hard, so that the front axle loses its bite. In addition, the rear axle always builds up high grip, but this can also break off suddenly. Yes, the limit - it's extremely high, but it's a fine line in the GT4 RS.And you can only reach it on a closed route anyway.

Sacrificed to perfection

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That's exactly where we are now on the brakes and on the gas at the same time. The launch control is activated promptly and the analog speed needle levels off at over 6,000 rpm. With a click of the brake pedal, the speed drops briefly, the traction control works in a state of emergency that can be felt, heard and experienced. Again and again the needle jumps up and down briefly because the rear wheels are looking for traction before the gear change redeems it at 9,000 rpm. That feels a lot wilder than in a Cayman GTS 4.0. Sure, it delivers 100 hp less, but it regulates it imperceptibly, without slipping, perfectly. Why are we harping on this? Because the GT4 RS - atypical for Porsche - needs several attempts and still misses the factory specification of 3.5 seconds by a tenth. Did you sacrifice perfection for the spectacle?

Subtle, admittedly. Especially since there is hardly anything more entertaining than this mid-engine athlete. Just like this one dissects curves with its variably translated steering (12.4 : 1 to 16.9 : 1). Without steering excessively sharply, it turns finely out of the middle position, just as if it could read thoughts and the route. The yellow center marker then remains in the position it has taken. Corrections? Not necessary. Perfect holding forces accompany you through the curve before the RS pushes itself out of it with a slight oversteer. The whole thing is accompanied by the sound of this engine work of art before it falls silent in the pit lane.

And listen, even after turning it off, it's not still. Only this time there are no flying stones, but the exhaust system, which cools down crackling.

Conclusion

Five stars for a track-optimized mid-engine athlete? Sure, just because of the six-cylinder boxer! This Porsche feels like the old RS times: uncouth, direct and above all loud.

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