Saturday, September 23, 2023

End of the week Drive by Hormazd Sorabjee: The series of wins

The Cayman was conceived for track use, which is why it may be the best-handling Porsche of all time

It’s unyielding, uncompromising and takes no prisoners. Meet the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS, the most extreme and exhilarating version of the Cayman, conceived for one sole purpose, to go around a race track as fast as possible.

That means making the car as light as possible. Weighing just 1415kg, the Cayman GT4 RS, despite add-ons like a massive rear spoiler, is remarkably light for what it is. In its quest to save kilos, Porsche has chucked a lot of things out of the Cayman’s two windows. Comfy (and heavy) power seats have been replaced by a lightweight carbon fibre bucket, which gets minimal adjustment and such high bolsters that getting in and out is like a yoga session.

Once, you’ve plonked yourself into the hip-hugging bucket seat, you’re greeted by a thin cushion. It’s part of the strict diet the GT4 RS has been put on, which also includes carpets that are lighter, fabric straps that replace door handles, a bonnet and front wings made of light-weight carbon fibre, and an overall reduction in sound insulation material.

It might appear that Porsche is stinting on the basics. On the contrary, these weight-saving measures are what gives the Cayman GT4 RS a rawness that owners want.

The steering has the right amount of weight and a delicious accuracy, but comfort is compromised in the effort to make the car as light as possible.
The steering has the right amount of weight and a delicious accuracy, but comfort is compromised in the effort to make the car as light as possible.

Let’s start with the engine, which produces 500hp, not much by supercar standards. However, it’s not the numbers, but the untamed way in which the power is unleashed that makes your hair stand and heart pound. The four-litre, flat-six cylinder, naturally aspirated engine is one of the best-sounding. Every visit to the 9,000rpm rev limit is a sonic delight. A throaty rumble crescendos into a spine-tingling roar as the engine sweeps through the rev range. With this sonorous motor sitting just inches behind your ears every reverberation and deep induction sound of the air sucked into the engine, is heightened. The steep ₹2.54 crore sticker price is worth every rupee just for the sound.

It’s very fast too. Floor the throttle pedal and the Cayman GT4 RS rockets forward to 100kph from a standstill in a scant 3.4 seconds. And, if you can legally find the right road, it will keep accelerating to hit a top speed of 315kph.

Then again, it’s not straight-line speed that is the GT4 RS’s forte, but its shocking ability to go around corners. Designed for high-cornering speeds on a race track, the Cayman GT4 sits just 128mm off the ground. It comes with a suspension that feels as hard as granite to minimise body roll and keep a flat poise.

There’s no doubt that the Cayman GT4 RS is the ultimate track tool but comfort is seriously compromised. On Mumbai streets, the GT4 RS will break your back before breaking lap records. The stripped-out cabin, hard seats, even harder suspension makes the it hard to live with off the track. Yes, a smooth and twisty road would be great. But to find one close to where you live is not easy. If you do, it’s the next best thing to a race track.

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