Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Track-focused 911 amps up the funk in its trunk

JOHN CAREY

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

The 911 GT3 RS is a car with a behind of eye-popping prominence.

Massive rear tyres fill almost to bursting the broad curves of its 911 Turbo-derived haunches.

Remove that impossible-to-ignore wing and you’re looking at the automotive equivalent of Kim Kardashian in tight jeans. But this is a cruel and unkind metaphor.

The Porsche, of course, has talent.

We’ve come to Bilster Berg, a private racetrack in Germany’s north, to find out what it can do.

This circuit packs a lot of rise and fall into its 4.2km length. There are slithery curves over crests, grippy compression dips, offcamber exits, visually deceptive entries and, with greenery all around, little chance to relax.

It’s like a condensed Nurburgring.

The 911 GT3 RS has already clocked a 7min 20sec lap of the Nordschleife. This is better than any of its predecessors, and nine seconds quicker than the 5.7-litre V10 Carrera GT managed in 2003.

Andreas Preuninger, Porsche’s director of high-performance cars and motorsport, confidently predicts the new GT3 RS will shave a few more seconds off its current Ring record when more favourable summer weather arrives in Germany.

It doesn’t take many laps of Bilster Berg to understand why the GT3 RS is a lord of the Ring. It combines outlandish grip, superb steering, muscular brakes and precision delivery of pungent power in choir-like harmony. With the sense of connection through its Alcantara-bound wheel and

FIRSTDRIVES

SPECS

Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Porsche 911 GT3 RS 3996cc flat 6, dohc, 24v 368kW @ 8250rpm 460Nm @ 6250rpm 7-speed dual-clutch 1420kg 3.3sec (claimed) 12.7L/100km $387,700 August

carbonfibre-shelled seat, you simply have to sing along.

Preuninger says he really pushed for the same size wheels and tyres as the 918 Hybrid for the 911 GT3 RS; 265/35ZR20s on 9.5-inch rims at the front and 325/30ZR21s on 12.5-inch rims at the rear. These bring 20 and 18 percent respective increases in contact patch area compared to the GT3, which has narrower 20-inch wheels front and rear.

The grippy rubber – both Michelin and Dunlop supply tyres – is just the beginning of the story. To extract more mechanical grip, both front and rear tracks are increased. The RS has front guards 50mm wider than the GT3, and 911 Turbo guards at the rear make the RS almost 30mm broader in the beam.

The need for new front guards presented an irresistible opportunity for aerodynamic improvement. Adding wheel housing air outlets to the carbonfibre guards increases front axle downforce by around 30 percent. Also made from carbonfibre, the rear wing is positioned and shaped for strong downforce with minimal drag.

The result? High-speed downforce can total 345kg, mainly from the rear, with a reasonable 0.34 coefficient of drag.

So they say. Bilster Berg offers no Le Mans-like opportunity to assess aero effectiveness at this car’s 310km/h top speed. But you can sense the results of the weight-shaving program the car was subjected to. Despite the weight increases imposed by the Turbo body panels and larger wheels, the RS is 10kg lighter than the GT3 thanks to the widespread use of lightweight materials.

The GT3 RS’s 368kW 4.0-litre engine must surely be the world’s greatest naturally aspirated road-car six. This effectively new engine isn’t related in any way to the same-capacity and same-power ‘Mezger’ engine used in the 997 Series II 911 GT3 RS, of which 600 were produced between 2011 and 2012. It is a glorious thing.

Amazingly tractable at low revs, it also has a sweet midrange.

But the frenzied intensity available from 5000rpm all the way to its 8800rpm cut-out is special. The surgical precision of its throttle response makes it a perfect partner for an equally precise chassis.

This GT3 RS is the first with Porsche’s dual-clutch ’box, for the very simple reason that it delivers better lap times. It’s adept as an auto, especially in ‘PDK Sport’ mode on a track, and manual paddle shifts are practically instant.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the rear-biased visuals of the GT3 RS are reflected in the way it drives. Grip is surer at the rear end, where an electronically controlled diff lock, torque vectoring and electric steer system all labour to keep things tidy. While understeer can perhaps be found a little earlier and more often than expected, messages from the evenly weighted electric-assist steering are loud and clear.

No surprise that a 911 GT3 RS works brilliantly on a circuit, but this latest one startles with the way it drives on the road. On German country blacktop, ride comfort is much better than “not bad”. Noise levels are acceptable if you avoid high revs and the induction system’s drone zones. It truly feels like a car you could live with day after day, savouring its specialness each and every time.

In fact, it could probably teach Kim Kardashian a thing or two about a lasting relationship.

It combines outlandish grip, superb steering and precision delivery of power in choir-like harmony

PLUS & MINUS

It’s $50K more than the previous 997 Gen II GT3 RS Engine; transmission; steering; brakes; handling; looks; engineering

GT3 RS IN ACTION

Use the free viewa app and scan this page to see Porsche’s track day hero at work and play

01 SPECIFIC RIM

Alcantara-covered steering wheel is 20mm smaller than the standard 911; comes from the 918 Spyder. While 911 GT3 RS has metal paddle shifters instead of the 918’s carbon pieces, the mechanism behind them is the same.

02 HOLD OR FOLD?

Lightweight carbonfibre fixedbackrest seats with fore-aft and height adjustment are based on those used in the 918 Spyder.

They’re great for racetrack driving. A different seat with a folding backrest, but no height adjust, is a no-cost option.

03 ON THE PULL

Door trims are GT3 RS-specific and feature door pulls made from seatbelt material, like the old Boxster Spyder’s. But the GT3 RS is a modern Porsche, meaning its cabin is still a slice of luxurious craftsmanship.

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Mag nation

PORSCHE claims the new 911 GT3 RS is the first road car ever produced with a magnesium roof. It saves a kilo where it counts, high up in the car.

The sheetmetal is made in South Korea, formed in Canada and primed in the USA, before being shipped to Zuffenhausen where the car is made.

Other weight-saving parts, including the carbonfibre cargo compartment lid, engine cover, rear wing and downforce-enhancing front guards are from much closer to home. The rear guards are externally identical to the 911 Turbo, but the inner stamping is modified to accommodate the GT3 RS’s new air intake system. The doors are aluminium.