Porsche 911 GT3 RS (2006) review

Published:18 October 2006

Porsche 911 GT3 RS (2006) review
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

So Porsche has opened the lairy paint tins again. What’s it all in aid of?

It’s time for a new GT3 RS, that’s what. Though you might suspect a marketing hand in here, I’m pleased to say it’s all to do with racing. More specifically Porsche needs to build this car to homologate the track-only RSR model for GT racing.

I’m guessing that it’s based on the GT3 launched this spring.

How perceptive. But did you notice the wider rear track? The stock GT3, in common with all two-wheel drive 911s, is 44mm narrower across the back than its all-wheel drive cousins. For extra grip and stability on track though, the RS version gets the wider arches allowing a wider track. The rear spoiler is unique too, the rear cage has more cross bracing and the rear window is made from plastic. All in, the RS cuts 20kg from the GT3’s weight for a 1375kg total.

What’s going on under the bonnet?

The 3.6-litre flat six is carried over from the GT3 unchanged. For those needing a recap it’s based on the old GT1 racing engine that helped Porsche win Le Mans in 1998 and in this tune puts out 409bhp and 299lb ft of torque. There’s a six speed gearbox to send that power to the rear wheels through a limited-slip differential and Porsche has fitted a single, rather than dual-mass flywheel, to the benefit of weight reduction and engine response.

I’m guessing it’s pretty special to drive

Better than that, it’s the most exciting 911 currently on sale. The merest tilt of the suede-rimmed wheel launches the RS into a corner, the body squats ever so slightly on its stiffer and lower suspension and the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres seem to magnetise the tarmac beneath them. Apparently the compound is new to make them more suitable for all-weather use although we didn’t get the chance to try them in the wet. In the dry you have to be trying seriously hard to unstick either end. If you do it’s likely to be the front that goes first but the optional PCCB ceramic brakes are so good that you’ve really got no excuse for overcooking it into a corner. Criticisms? Well the throttle response could be even sharper and we still preferred the way the old pre-variable-geared steering felt.

Circuit schmircuit. I’ll bet it’s absolutely useless on the road.

We were driving it on the road. In fact we didn’t have the opportunity to drive the RS on the track at all. But we understand your concern. The old GT3, and the GT3 RS in particular, was a pretty uncompromising machine, great fun on track but too harsh to be truly enjoyable away from it. But the new car is a different animal, happy to cruise along at 90mph with seemingly little noise or comfort penalty over a standard 911 Carrera. It’s not all roses though: low speed bumps are still gruesome and the accelerating to pass a car on the motorway fills the cabin with exhaust boom.

But wouldn’t you just have a Turbo? It’s not much more money and is even faster.

They’re very different cars but we’d take the £94,280 GT3 RS over the £97,840 Turbo almost every time. Hard to believe but the Turbo actually feels a little sterile in comparison. Although there’s not much in it when it comes to acceleration figures (3.9sec to 62mph for the Turbo, 4.2sec for the RS and 4.3 for the GT3), the blown car is much stronger in the mid range. But though it requires more effort to extract the RS’s full performance, it’s so much more satisfying winding it right round to the 8400rpm limiter and it feels so much more agile than the Turbo.

Verdict

By any sensible standards the GT3 RS doesn’t make much sense. If you’re a track day fan a GT3 will do 90 per cent as much for £14,000 less while the Turbo’s mega mid-range grunt, rear seats and better standard equipment make it a better bet for most people to use day in day out. But the fact that you can now even consider using your RS as a daily driver is a cause for celebration. This is 911 distilled, a concentrated hit of rear-engined Porsche adrenaline and we are absolutely hooked.

Specs

Price when new: £95,640
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 3600cc 24V flat six, 409bhp@7600rpm, 298lb ft @5500rpm
Transmission: six-speed manual rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.2sec 0-62mph, 192mph, 22.1mpg
Weight / material: steel, some aluminium panels/1375kg
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4460/1852/1280

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  • Porsche 911 GT3 RS (2006) review
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RS (2006) review
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RS (2006) review
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RS (2006) review
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RS (2006) review
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RS (2006) review
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RS (2006) review

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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