Clarkson says everyone loves the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS because F1 Drive to Survive has turned them into petrolheads

Opinions differ on its ride quality

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Jeremy Clarkson really likes the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS, and so does almost anyone who sees it — and that’s down to a Netflix documentary about F1, he reckons.

In his regular Sunday Times Magazine column this weekend, the Clarkson’s Farm and The Grand Tour star said that not only did he greatly enjoy driving the mostly hard-edged track-focused version of the Porsche Cayman, but also, contrary to his expectations, everyone who came to his door while he had it parked outside his house “swooned and cooed and wanted to sit in it”.

Initially embarrassed at the thought of parking a high-powered sports car such as the 493bhp Cayman GT4 RS on his drive, Clarkson figured that the car would be like “a red rag to all the plant-based Biden enthusiasts who live around this neck of the woods [rural Oxfordshire] these days.”

That didn’t turn out to be the case, with the Porsche garnering nothing but positive attention.

“One girl, who has a shop selling linen with little flowers on it, asked whether it had Pirelli Cup tyres. Another who does nothing all day, so far as I can tell, except grow and plait her armpit hair wondered why it wasn’t four-wheel drive.”

The answer to that is likely something to do with saving weight and reducing complexity in such a lightweight, mid-engined sports car, but as to why the GT4 RS was greeted with so much enthusiasm, Clarkson thinks he has the answer.

“All of these people have spent the past few weeks watching Drive to Survive on Netflix and they’re all now fully paid-up petrolheads.

“Greta Thunberg so nearly had them but they’ve been whisked away at the last minute by a documentary about Formula One, and all of them now want a hot car that goes like a Saturn V, stops like it’s hit a wall and turns like a hunted antelope.”

Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS review

Clarkson liked the sound of the GT4 RS’s recipe with the same 4-litre flat-six engine from the 911 GT3 shoehorned into the smaller, lighter Cayman, a perfect antidote to the increasingly large 911 he feels is becoming “more of a supercar really, and that’s not what it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a sports car. And sports cars are little.”

What he liked more than the sound of the recipe was the raucous sound of the engine, which was “so loud you can’t even hear what’s happening in your own head. But oh, my sweet lord, what a sound.”

“It’s not what I call a ‘cheat’ noise either. It’s not created by moving flaps around in the exhaust pipes or amplifying the noise through the stereo speakers. It’s the sound of this car breathing in through its carbon fibre ears, which are located where the rear side windows used to be.”

The one downside to blanking off the windows was, he said, the inability to see what’s coming at oblique junctions, but that “the death or serious injury that may result from this is a small price to pay,” considering the engine’s glorious sound.

Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS review

“A lot of enthusiasts will no doubt moan that it’s not available with a manual gearbox [unlike the regular GT4, the RS only comes with a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission], but I didn’t mind at all,” he said.

“In fact I just happily tugged away at those flappy paddles as I was going along. Not because I wanted to change gear especially, I was simply using them like organ stops.” 

Clarkson said that from the description so far, one might imagine the car was designed mainly for track days, and therefore too stiff for the road, but the writer insisted that its suspension is surprisingly compliant, even around his Oxfordshire home “where the roads only just meet the dictionary definition these days”.

When’s Will Dron tested the Cayman GT4 RS in Wales in March, his and Clarkson’s thoughts rather diverged on this aspect of the car. Loud, it certainly was, and “not just a few decibels above that of the GT4, but more akin to standing next to the runway at Heathrow.” 

Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS review

“The removal the bulkhead, along with the air intake being directly behind your ear, results in true racing car levels of din,” said our editor. 

He also felt the ride quality was so harsh on the roads around the Anglesey Circuit that it “falls below acceptable levels for all but the shortest of journeys.”

As for its overall performance, there’s little debate on that subject — both writers were blown away.

In Clarkson’s words: “You can literally fling the GT4 RS around the place, and, like all good sports cars, it reacts like an excited puppy. Squealing and wagging its tail and making barky noises. In a GT3 you nod sagely when it does something well. In its baby brother you burst out laughing.”

The price and Porsche’s penchant for charging exorbitantly for extras, he did admit, was likely to inflate the Cayman GT4 RS well beyond its £108,000 price tag but that “you won’t have to worry about where you’re going to park it because you’ll never want to get out of it.”

On this one, our conclusions differed, with Will wondering whether the only-slightly-pricier 911 GT3 is actually a more perfect all-rounder. He described the Cayman GT4 RS as “one of the truly great track-day cars — fun, predictable, dramatic and really fast,” but cautioning “if you’re taking it to a far-flung circuit, you’ll thank me for advising you to take it on a trailer.”

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