‘Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’ As the sun sets on the internal combustion era, it seems car manufacturers have taken the words of Dylan Thomas to heart.
The recent flurry of special-edition supercars includes the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS, Lamborghini Huracan STO, Ferrari Daytona SP3 and Aston Martin V12 Vantage.
All have outrageous petrol engines – and not a future-proofed electric motor in sight.
A question of Rennsport
Hang on… the Cayman a supercar? When it costs £108,370 and has the same Porsche Motorsport-derived flat-six as a 911 GT3 then absolutely, yes. As the first – and possibly last – Cayman to wear the hallowed RS badge, there are no half-measures here.
Resplendent in Racing Yellow with acres of exposed carbon fibre (part of the optional Weissach package), Porsche UK’s press GT4 RS looks like a hornet with anger issues.
Poised 30mm lower than a standard 718 Cayman on 20-inch centre-lock wheels, its shrink-wrapped body is peppered with scoops and slashes. Manually adjustable front and rear spoilers help ratchet up downforce by 25 percent versus the non-Rennsport GT4.
No manual option
The Cayman’s 4.0-litre naturally aspirated engine produces 500hp at a frenetic 8,400rpm, at which point you still have 600rpm to go. Output is 10hp down on the 911 GT3, apparently due to a more convoluted exhaust system, but the performance stats are identical: 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 194mph.
The key difference, perhaps, is that you can order the 911 with a manual gearbox; the GT4 RS only comes with the paddle-shift PDK transmission.
Even liberal use of grippy Race-Tex trim, a titanium roll cage, 3D-printed ‘bodyform’ seats and RS-trademark fabric door handles can’t disguise the age of the Porsche’s cabin.
This third-generation Cayman was first launched in 2016, remember, even if the touchscreen media system has been updated – including Apple CarPlay connectivity – since then.
A proper headbanger
No matter: drive the GT4 RS in an appropriate manner and you can forget about listening to Radio 4. The air intakes that replace the rear side windows are located just behind your ears, and the effect is like hugging the speakers at a Motorhead gig.
As the revs soar, the voracious gasp of induction is overwhelmed by the bandsaw blare of six wide-open throttle bodies. The piercing top notes are pure racing car.
Other aspects of this factory hot-rod feel equally intense. Where lesser Caymans – including the GT4 – have been criticised for their long gearing, the RS has shorter ratios for instant, almost maniacal throttle response.
The PDK gearbox is brutally quick too, every shift delivered with machine-gun pace and precision. Much as I love a manual, the dual-clutcher’s ruthless immediacy certainly suits the car’s character.
Shiny happy people
Beneath the sound and the fury, there are subtler nuances to the GT4 RS experience. Its steering is wonderfully direct and precise, and the mid-engined layout instils a natural sense of balance that makes the chassis easy to exploit.
The biggest surprise, though, is the ride quality. Make no mistake, the ball-jointed suspension transmits every ripple in the road, but it rarely jolts or thumps. The 911 GT3 Touring I drove last year definitely felt firmer.
Ultimately, a ‘standard’ GT4 is less compromised and £30,000 cheaper, but the RS isn’t trying to be your daily-driver. We already know the next Cayman and Boxster will be fully electric, so this is Porsche partying like it’s 2029, celebrating the iconic flat-six while it still can. And what a party!
To quote a more recent poet, Michael Stipe of REM: ‘It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.’
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research
TOP SPEED: 196mph
FUEL ECONOMY: 21.4mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS: 299g/km