Racing improves the breed, and if there’s one firm that genuinely takes that mantra to the road then it’s Porsche. With its 911 GT3 it homologates its GT3 R race car, but it’s the GT3 RS that really blurs the boundaries between racetrack and road. It’s now here, and unlike previous RS models, it’s a lot more distinct from the standard GT3.
Firstly there’s more power, courtesy of the 3.8-litre flat six being enlarged to 4.0 litres. That is achieved with a longer stroke, via a different camshaft constructed from the same exotic repeatedly heat-treated, high-strength steel you’ll find in Porsche’s 919 WEC Le Mans prototype race car.
And the engine upgrades don’t stop there - there’s a redesigned dry-sump lubrication system, a lighter valve train with new valve springs, a revised camshaft, lightweight cylinder heads and a variable resonance induction system. The net result is more power and torque compared to the GT3, with a peak output of 493bhp, up 25bhp, torque up from 440Nm to 460Nm. Porsche’s GT Boss Andreas Preuinger adds that at maximum speed - 193mph - a 'ram-air' effect of the new induction system adds at least 10bhp to that.
Unlike its predecessor, the 4.0-litre engine in combination with the PDK paddle-shifted seven-speed transmission (there’s no manual option) is civilised at low speed, but fearsomely decisive and quick when you up the pace. And it’s difficult not to, the 4.0-litre’s huge flexibility makes it quick at low revs, and otherworldly as it chases the slightly lower, but still stratospheric, 8,800rpm redline - it reaches 62mph in 3.3 seconds and 100mph in 7.1 seconds.
Do that and the noise is incredible, the speed sensational and, when you find a corner, the turn-in immediate - helped in part by revised RS specific rear-axle steering settings. The front axle feels more tied-down than any other 911, allowing entry speeds as high as you dare, while the rear too offers huge grip. Despite all that rubber on the road the RS can be playful, but it happens at greater speeds than its GT3 relation, and requires quicker reactions.
With the GT3 RS borrowing its wider body from the 911 Turbo, induction air for the engine is channelled via the rear wing inlets rather than over roof and engine lid. Visually the GT3 RS wears its intent with more overt styling, and all of it is functional.
The front wings feature vented tops to improve airflow and downforce without any increase in drag, despite that massive high mounted rear wing. All the aerodynamic trickery allows the GT3 RS to deliver downforce of 345kg - equivalent to around 80 per cent of what Porsche achieves with its GT3 R racing car.
With aerodynamic tricks borrowed from the track, an engine with 919 components and materials and a wheel and tyre selection that’s the same as the Porsche’s 918 Spyder hypercar, the GT3 RS is a far more extreme evolution than even the fabled 997 RS 4.0.
Despite the weight of the wider Turbo-derived body and larger wheels and tyres fitted under it the RS sees an overall reduction of weight over the standard GT3 by around 20kg. That’s achieved by everything from the replacement of rear and side rear windows with polycarbonate, a new lightweight rear bumper, a bootlid and front wings constructed from carbon fibre, thinner door cards with strap door pulls, less sound deadening, to a lighter wiring harness and even a magnesium roof.
That roof is lighter than carbonfibre, and we’re told the 1mm thick panel is incredibly difficult to make. It’s worth the effort though, dropping 1kg at the RS’s highest point, to the benefit of the RS’s centre of gravity. Purists can opt for a lighter lithium ion battery for £1,538, while the £6,248 PCCB composite ceramic brakes are a must-have option for those taking it to the track.
And it’s inconceivable that a GT3 RS owner wouldn’t spend some time on track, yet for all its obvious focus it’s not overly compromised as a road car. The impossibly low nose can be lifted with an optional lifting kit - it’s needed - though despite the massive tyre and wheel package and lack of rubber bushing in much of the suspension the RS rides with remarkable composure - it’s taut, but it’s not unbearable for road use.
It’s a more demanding car to drive than a GT3, then, but so rewarding at the same time. The RS achieves its greatness without robbing itself of some of its day-to-day usability. At around £30,000 more than the GT3 it looks like a bargain, assuming that is, if you can get hold of one.
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