Welcome back to Scouting Report, CorvetteBlogger’s educational column that seeks to help members of the Crossed Flags family get to know their fiercest rivals. In this edition, we will take a look at the most extreme mid-engine Porsche since the 918 Spyder.
What is it?
Well, they finally did it! The zealots from Zuffenhausen have officially put a stop to their intentional, decades-long handicapping of the mid-engine member of the Porsche sports car family. The “little brother” Cayman’s midsection is going to receive a naturally aspirated 4.0L heart transplant from the crown jewel 911 GT3 for 2023.
The first Cayman to ever earn the vaunted RS designation will toss the regular GT4’s mechanically unrelated and less visceral 414-horse 4.0 on top of the 928 in the scrap heap. In its place will be one of, if not the, most beloved powerplants of our time, the catchily named MA1.76/MDG.G 4-liter flat-six of 991.2 and 992 GT3 fame. After debuting to heavy skepticism in 2013 (with the MA1.75 prefix and 3.8 liters of displacement), the new GT3 engine proved itself a worthy successor to the legendary, race-derived Mezger motor that powered 996 and 997-gen GT3s.
For Cayman GT4 RS duty, the GT3’s 502 horsepower and 346 lb-ft fall to 493 and 331, respectively, due to the extra exhaust tubing made necessary by moving the engine further away from the back bumper. Porsche is quick to point out that zero detuning was done for the 4RS; it was given the “full GT3” for the first time in history. The engineers might also take offense to any suggestions that they have been sandbagging the last two GT4s, but even if there is some truth to their protecting the halo car from a talented sibling, packaging was the issue up to this point. Previous versions of this engine simply didn’t fit in the Cayman because of the dry-sump oiling system. From the onset, the GT team designed the newest 4.0 with both the 911 AND the Cayman in mind.
Cayman GT4 RS – The Good
Did we mention the engine?
While Porsche’s power numbers don’t exactly raise many eyebrows these days, it is the way they produce power that keeps discerning drivers (and people who want to look like one) coming back for more. The 4.0 might have left nine ponies in the back of its original home, but it is bringing the full glory/fury of its famed 9,000 RPM redline to its new digs.
We get it; the 4.0 is nice, But what about the other hardware?
Compared to the “run-of-the-mill” GT4, the RS has new faster-reacting adaptive Bilstein dampers, spherical ball joints, and stiffer springs. Pilot Sport Cup 2 Rs, the ultimate factory track tire, ceramic rotors, and a set of (blue/purple!) forged magnesium wheels will also make an appearance on the option sheet. The other big news is the aero package. It is highly adjustable, and, at its most aggressive, it produces 25% more downforce than a non-Rennsport GT4 could muster. It does this with a bigger wing that features the GT3’s beautiful and functional swan-neck mounts. Upfront, there is an up-sized splitter and an adjustable diffuser that only moves in conjunction with the rear wing to maintain balance between the two. Around the front wheels, you’ll find a pair of interesting aero-aids too. Fore is a vent that allows air to pass through the grille and be disposed of efficiently, up top are RS-staple vents that relieve wheel-well air build-up, and aft of the front wheels, Porsche has implemented a unique cut-out that helps airflow out of the fender with less drag.
It’s been dieting
The RS tips the scales with some 50 fewer pounds than the already svelte GT4. In total, Porsche is claiming a curb weight of 3,227 lbs. For those keeping score at home, that’s more than 200 lbs. lighter than the C8Z and 300 lighter than a C7Z. To play in that weight class, fiberglass reinforced plastic was used to create the hood and front fenders, while the rear window is finished in lightweight glass. Inside, door panels were simplified, and, like any good RS, the handles have been replaced with pull straps. Carpets have been mowed, and a good deal of sound deadening was tossed aside. Just like its forebears and the 918, the GT4 RS is getting an available Weissach Package that takes removing excess poundage to the extreme of what is possible. That RPO (or whatever Porsche calls its options) swaps out the stock hood, mirrors, wing, swan necks, and intakes for carbon fiber units.
Even with fewer than 500-horses at its disposal, the newest RS Porsche is an absolute monster. Acceleration numbers haven’t been released yet, (and Porsche’s internal ratings traditionally skew so cautious that they can’t really be trusted anyway), but we do know that the GT4 RS set an incredibly fast 7:04.5 lap at the Nürburgring, which is just a few ticks off of the mark set by the insane Viper ACR-E, and on pace with the segment times of our friend Jim Mero and the 755-horse C7 ZR1! This thing isn’t messing around!
Cayman GT4 RS – The Bad
As usual with the performance cars of this day, this section doesn’t contain enough content to warrant any subsections. There are only two items that found their way into our “cons” column on this one. The first of them can be written in pen any time you are talking about Porsche – price. The GT4 RS starts at $143,050 without checking a single one of Porsche’s notoriously rich option boxes. The Weissach pack, alone, carried an $18,000 sticker on the last GT3 RS, expect a similar price to carbon-out a GT4 RS. The stand-alone performance and pound-dropping options (Cup 2 Rs, Mag Wheels, Ceramics) will also cost a pretty penny, especially the brakes, which usually run in excess of $10 g’s. Still, you can get a GT3 engine and an ultra-exclusive RS badge for $20k less than the starting price of the real GT3, which has to be a tempting proposition for any Porsche enthusiast!
The only reason for the regular GT4 to even exist in a world where C8s are available (and that will increase 100X when the Z06 hits showrooms!) is its available manual transmission. A lot of drivers out there won’t even consider an automatic sports car, so the Cayman GT4 and GTS 4.0 are extremely desirable for their sub-GT3 price tags and tantalizing mix of naturally aspirated engines and clutch pedals. The RS, like all cars that have worn that moniker since the GT3 RS 4.0 of 2011, has a monogamous relationship with its PDK transmission. So, like the latest ‘Vette, the GT4 RS is an auto-only affair.
Overall Threat to the ‘Vette
The Cayman GT4 RS is a heck of a machine, and, even at double the price, it is hard to argue the 2020+ Stingray’s case in a head-to-head situation, unless you are looking for a long-haul GT, in which case you, ironically, wouldn’t be shopping for a Porsche with the letter “G” or “T” in its name. Unfortunately for Porsche, they pulled the cover off of the ultimate Cayman about a month after Chevrolet unveiled the ultimate modern mid-engine sports car. The 4RS was primarily built as a track weapon, and when it finally meets a Z06 on the tarmac of Laguna Seca, VIR, or even on Porsche’s Green Hell home turf, the more luxurious, comfortable, better riding Z will stop the clock first, you can bet on it! The Z06 has 180 more horses, 130 more lb-ft, generates about double the downforce, and has more tire (the Cayman comes with 245s out front and 295 in the rear vs. the Z’s 275/345 setup), which combine forces to more than wipe out its slight weight disadvantage. Add in the fact that the Z likely comes with $50,000 in savings, and it is an absolute no-brainer!