Why Porsche’s Powerful New Cayman Is a Bona Fide Rival to the 911

"We want to party with this car ... before some distant day where it goes electric,” said Porsche GT head Andreas Preuninger

The new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS racing down a track
Instead of being a little brother to the 911, the 718 Cayman now has a worthy partner in crime.

Making the transition from a regular sports car owner to a Porsche sports car owner can be daunting, not (necessarily) because of the intimidating driver experience, but because of the intimidating lexicon you’re obliged to learn. Targa, Carrera, SC, RS, GTS — deciphering the terminology can feel overwhelming to newcomers, and we’re not even talking about the numeric codes. 

Which is why we’re here today to translate and recommend the recently announced Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS, a mouthful of a sports car that should be top of mind for any driver looking for the latest and greatest thrill, even if you don’t normally consider Porsche among your favorite marques. It’s a racing-inspired, mid-engine speed machine that’s been treated to upgrades normally reserved for the hallowed rear-engine 911. The final product, which has been in the works for a while, is something of a swan song to the gas-powered era, a no-holds-barred car that ranks at the top of the heap among similar super-powered models automakers are releasing before the EV revolution arrives. 

The Cayman is the coupe version of the Boxster and a mid-engine sports car counterpart to the top-of-the-line 911. The first Cayman was ushered in for model year 2006, but this new GT4 model is the first time the Cayman is getting the RS (Rennsport) treatment, as Roadshow noted, a designation normally saved for the 911. But this isn’t just a case of the Cayman GT4 getting a tuned engine, big rear wing and a healthy dose of carbon fiber, there’s another trick it’s stealing from its rear-engine sibling: the 9,000-rpm engine from the 911 GT3. 

In terms of specs, by planting the top-tier 4.0-liter flat-six from the 911 GT3 into this Cayman, drivers will get 493 horsepower, 331 lb-ft of torque, a 0-to-60 time of 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 196 mph, all of which handily beat the regular Cayman GT4. That should be a given, as the price difference is $101,200 versus $141,700. However, the real comparison should not be between Caymans, but between this new Cayman GT4 RS model and the 911 GT3, the latter of which goes for $161,100. 

The interior of the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS, a high-end version of the mid-engine sports car coming in 2022
The new RS model feature Porsche’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, otherwise known as PDK.

In an interview with Top Gear, Andreas Preuninger, director of the Porsche GT line, described the 911 GT3 as a sports car that’s competing with every other brand in terms of performance. This new racing-inspired but street-legal Cayman, however, is for a different kind of driving. 

“This is a little bit of a hybrid between a driver’s car that you use on mountainous roads, on switchbacks and on really demanding roads for the driver … and a great car for track days,” Preuninger said. “We tried to find the perfect compromise here and I think we did because from the emotional point of view this is a [completely] different experience.”

Part of that experience comes with the mid-engine territory, but it also extends to the aural character. Preuninger calls the Cayman GT4 RS “a live concert on four wheels” in part due to the new air intakes behind the side windows. If the 911 GT3 is all about the old-school exhaust, this Cayman is a more complex symphony led by the intake.

“We want to party with this car, celebrate this engine, horsepower, RPMs before some distant day where it goes electric,” Preuninger said, as noted by Road & Track.

Preuninger may be employing a bit of wishful thinking. The day when the Cayman goes electric is coming up quickly (2025 is the goal right now), and even the 911, which previously was considered untouchable by electric powertrains, may go the EV route this decade. If you want the best of what Porsche has to offer before alternative power dominates, you may want to consider adding this Cayman to your garage when it hits dealers in the summer of 2022.

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