This is Porsche's new 911 GT3 RS, a harder and faster version of the already hard and fast GT3. Traditionally it's the best Porsche 911 variant - the GT2 is often too extreme and the turbo'd engine lacks aural delight - so what's the new one like? Read on for CAR's first drive review.
So it’s a Porsche 911 GT3 that’s even more extreme?
Oh yes. The 3.8 flat-six – up from 3.6-litres in the previous 997 RS – produces 444bhp at 7900rpm, an increase of 15bhp (at 300rpm higher) over the GT3. That means 117bhp/litre, and while the torque output of 317lb ft is unchanged, it too is produced at higher revs.
And what an engine. It chunters at idle, like a mechanic has left a few bolts in each cylinder, but clears its throat as the revs rise. There’s a glorious resonance through the cabin between 4 and 5000rpm, and after that the note gets louder and harder, and an aggressive howl drives you to thrash it to 8000rpm over and over. It's a proper race-bred engine, and quite why the GT2 RS needs another 167bhp we can't imagine.
Presumably a double-clutch PDK ‘box is not an option?
Of course – the GT3 RS is only available with a motorsport-derived six-speed manual, which means a heavy clutch and the need to be very deliberate with your shifts. However, while it can be a little awkward when you’re trundling around, it’s much better when you need to bash through the gears. And keep up with that incredible engine – there’s revised transmission ratios so although the top speed is 1mph down on the GT3 (does that matter?) the acceleration is even more ferocious.
What are the other measures designed to make this GT3 RS harder and faster than ever?
Look closely and you’ll spot the flared front wheelarches, which hide a wider front track – the GT2 RS shares the same hardware. Plus there’s a massive carbonfibre rear wing, that fills your doors mirrors and blocks out your rear-view mirror – unless there’s a BMW behind, you won’t see who is following. There’s a titanium exhaust too, which saves weight from where it counts in a 911 – at the back.
I’m not sure about the colour scheme though.
We’d agree. The Mk1 997 GT3 RS looked brilliant in bright orange or a green Kermit would be proud, complete with retro RS stickers, but the new treatment is a bit OTT. A basic white paint is free, a rather nice blue is £730, and the grey/black of our test is £1768. The contrasting red (or white gold) is free – hurrah! (sarcasm) – though silver wheels are a no-cost option, and if you ask Porsche nicely they’ll delete the graphics. After all, your business is worth £100k-plus.
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£100,000? That’s a lot of money for a 911?
But not as much as the £164,107 GT2 RS. The base car is £104,841, but then to that you’ll probably add the Carrera GT-inspired seats (lightweight buckets are already standard but these save another 10kg). Another 10kg can be cut if you opt for the £1268 lithium-ion battery, while carbon brakes are £5801.
And if you’re utterly mad then you can also choose to delete the air-con and radio, so there’s a big hole in the dash and you get to sweat every time the sun comes out. The upshot is that you’ll always get to listen to that magnificent engine.
The only other option you might want is the nose-lift system that raises the front axle by 30mm to help you get over speed bumps. Other extras for the ‘less-focussed’ customer include the option to spec the headlamp washers in a matching or contrasting colour to the body (£135) and paint the air vents (whether or not you delete the air-con).
What’s the new 911 GT3 RS like on the road?
Bloody brilliant. As with every 911 there’s a beautiful, precise weighting to the controls which makes this car a joy to drive a low speeds. The feedback from the steering is brilliantly detailed, the ceramic brakes will leave as lasting an impression as the power, and the Cup tyres provide huge amounts of grip. Every mile is intoxicating, and it's surely one of the best cars of 2010.
The ride is stiff, but better than we remember in a winter tyre-shod GT3, but this car's habitat will be a race track where the surface will only ever be ultra-smooth. There's lots of tyre noise too, especially from the fat tyres at the back, but then there's nothing in the back (bar a roll cage) to really provide any insulation.
To some the GT3 RS is just another 911, and far too many will dismiss it/laugh at it because of the OTT looks – the only person to compliment me on it was behind the wheel of a white Range Rover Sport.
But drive the GT3 RS and you’ll realise just how utterly special it is. The ride might be stiff, but then most people lucky enough to own one will just use it on smooth tracks. As for the rest of us, a stint behind the wheel will reveal one very exceptional car. There are some things to hate about Porsche (the Cayenne, for instance) but this is something to celebrate.
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