Here's Why The Porsche Cayman GT4 RS Doesn't Feature A Manual Transmission
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Here's Why The Porsche Cayman GT4 RS Doesn't Feature A Manual Transmission

Find exactly why, one of the most engaging Porsche sports cars on sale today, does not feature a stick

by Amreetam Basu on July 10, 2024, 12:05

Unleashed and unfiltered, the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS is a swan-song for the revered gas-only mid-engined sports car. A renegade freed from corporate shackles, it embodies the Cayman’s ultimate evolution. With the GT3’s glorious naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six pumping out a healthy 493 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque, it’s a symphony of pure, unadulterated power.

However, it’s not just about the raw power, you see. The Cayman GT4 RS is a surgical instrument honed to do duty on the track. Shedding 49 pounds compared to the standard GT4, it boasts a wider track, a more aggressive stance, and a mesmerizing aero package that generates up to 22 pounds of downforce. Opt for the Weissach package and magnesium wheels, and you’ve got a featherweight mid-engined sports car ready to obliterate lap times.

Yet, in this symphony of perfection, there’s a missing link - a controversial omission that divides purists - the absence of a third pedal. The 718 Cayman GT4 RS is PDK only, which is Porsche’s, in-house-developed dual-clutch gearbox that ensures optimal performance and lightning-fast shifts. However, it leaves manual enthusiasts yearning for a lost connection. For being a track-focused sports car, is the GT4 RS missing out, with the lack of a stick? Well, let’s learn more about why this fire-breathing sports car doesn’t feature one.

Why Porsche’s PDK gearbox is great for track duties

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What looks like a manual stick is actually Porsche’s PDK automatic transmission

For the hardcore track enthusiast, the 718 Cayman GT4 RS’s seven-speed PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) transmission is the weapon of choice. This lightning-fast dual-clutch unit is known for its seamless and blistering shifts. It’s so good that you can almost forget the romantic notion of rowing through gears; the PDK is all about efficiency and performance.

Each gear change happens in the blink of an eye, with no interruption in power delivery, allowing the 718 Cayman GT4 RS to catapult from corner to corner with relentless pace.

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Long gone are the days when race cars relied on manual gearboxes and the driver’s skill to find the perfect shift. The modern motorsport landscape is mostly dominated by lightning-fast sequential gearboxes with straight-cut gears, leaving the traditional manual gearbox in the dust.

While the charm of a manual transmission is undeniable, it simply can’t match the speed and precision of modern automated systems. Every millisecond counts on the racetrack, and even the most skilled driver will inevitably lose precious time with each clutch engagement and gear change.

Dual-clutch transmissions, like the PDK in the 718 Cayman GT4 RS and most GT-branded Porsche models, eliminate this delay entirely by pre-selecting the next gear. This way, the gearbox can execute shifts instantaneously without cutting power between gear shifts.

2024 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS
Engine Mid-Mounted 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-6
Horsepower 493 hp
Torque (lb-ft) 331 lb-ft
Gearbox 7-speed PDK
Drive Type RWD
Curb Weight 3,227 lbs
0-60 (mph) 3.2 seconds
Top speed (mph) 196 mph

The manual transmission is an endangered species

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The charm of manual gearboxes with complete control over shifts is irreplaceable

The decline of manual gearboxes is a trend that you can’t ignore, especially if you’re an enthusiast who craves driver engagement. However, while they have a certain charm and nostalgia attached to them, in the world of high-performance sports cars for the track, it’s more about speed and efficiency. And that’s where dual-clutch transmissions like the PDK in the 718 Cayman GT4 RS shine.

Within Porsche’s own lineup, manual transmissions are becoming rare. While the 718 GT4 (now discontinued) and the 911 GT3 offer a glimmer of hope for manual enthusiasts, the GT4 RS and the 911 GT3 RS’s PDK-only configurations are a stark reminder of the shifting landscape. Even the newly updated 911 Carrera GTS turned PDK-only with the added complications of hybridization.

But before the GT4’s existence, the 2011 Cayman R was the most potent 987.2 Cayman. It’s the spiritual ancestor of the current GT4 RS, and back then, Porsche offered a six-speed manual gearbox alongside the seven-speed PDK option. But times change, my friend. The 718 GT4 RS is a track weapon, and the PDK is the perfect tool for the job.

Summing up the PDK-Only 718 GT4 RS

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Alright, so Porsche’s gone and done it again. It took the 718 Cayman GT4 and cranked it up to eleven with the RS version. Sure, that meant ditching the manual gearbox, and yeah, that might sting a bit for us purists who love rowing our own gears. But let’s be real: the PDK is a beast on the track. It’s faster, smoother, and, well, it’s just the way Porsche does things these days.

It’s a bummer that manuals are slowly fading into oblivion, even in Porsche’s lineup. But hey, at least the 718 GT4 and the 911 GT3 still hold the torch for manual diehards. And for those who want the absolute fastest lap times and the most hardcore track experience, the GT4 RS with the PDK is the way to go.

Amreetam Basu

Amreetam Basu

An ardent automotive journalist with a fondness for German cars. Deeply immersed in the auto world, I strive to convey the art and science of vehicular marvels to fellow enthusiasts. Read full bio