► New Porsche 911 GT3 RS (2015) driven
► First drive of the wildest 991 yet
► 'A race car for the road'
This is it. The most extreme Porsche 911 of the current 991 generation - and, possibly, of any: the new 2015 GT3 RS. After all the rumours, the patent leaks, the toy model cars spilling the aero secrets and the motor show debut at Geneva, we've finally got behind the snug, suede-rimmed wheel and driven the socks off Zuffenhausen's new road and track hotshot.
Is the new 911 GT3 Rennsport a game-changer, a nine-eleven to join the exalted ranks of the game-changers? Only 2000 will be built - and we've driven one of the first. Read our full review here to find out.
First, a quick recap. The new RS is a pretty extreme iteration of 911-kind. In case you couldn't tell by the monster rear wing <insert Boeing joke here>, trick air vents on the front wheelarches and the aggressive stance of the damn thing.
It's designed to be the closest you'll ever get to a 911 race car for the road, and with some justification. Engineers tell us it'll lap the Nurburgring in 7min 20sec and those spoilers aren't just for show; they deliver a combined 330 kilogrammes of downforce at a licence-risking 186mph, so it should be sticky at speed. We'll see...
With weight taken out ruthlessly (thanks magnesium roof, thin polycarbonate rear windows, carbonfibre wings) and power/torque bolstered across the rev range by lengthening the stroke to stretch capacity to 4.0 naturally aspirated litres, this is one seriously quick car. Porsche claims 0-62mph in 3.3sec and 0-124mph in 10.9sec. Click here for the full engineering detail on the new RS.
How does the 991 GT3 RS feel on the road?
Although its 8800rpm redline falls 200rpm short of the GT3's heady power summit, the RS engine sounds even meaner, rawer, more mechancial than its 2013 namesake. It's a bit like metal flakes protesting in hot oil, like an over-eager yet under-fed combustion process, a pair of lateral bass boxes supporting the drainage pipe-sized twin main speakers. When we talk about emotion, the potpourri of stimulating scents plays an important role: sweat on suede, variations of hot metal, acid brake dust, the slightly bitter smell of agitated rubber, the eternal duet of combustibles and lubricants.
It's this kind of car, the RS. Visceral and involving, with a pleasing rasp to the flat six. It feels angry, pent-up at idle. If memory serves us right, it delivers more talent, more polish than even the last RS we cherish, the 997's 4.0 RS. But - and this is a big one - possibly no more emotion. This is a very planted, stable kind of Porsche; those louvres above the front wings cut lift at the front axle by 30% and the aero tricks and inherent feedback through the controls combine to make this a very reassuring car to drive fast. The phrase 'widowmaker' doesn't cross your mind, even as you corner at 130mph...
With no manual gearbox forthcoming, the PDK-only GT3 RS is a simple car to drive fast. The double-clutch transmission rams gears home with such ferocity when you're on it, such unbridled speed that it feels aligned with the PlayStation generation. At times, the angry upshifts clonk home with a worrying viciousness. It's warp-speed punch across the rev range, with a vicious stab of acceleration but a toe-twitch away.
The new 2015 GT3 RS is an adept weapon, then. It's this delicate balance which deserves applause, the transparent interaction of input and response, the utterly reassuring poise that hasn't graced every fast 911 over the years. When it comes to the crunch and you must suddenly swerve or brake really hard at a pupil-widening pace, the latest magic compound Michelin Cup tyres fuse with the tarmac in a physical reaction with a chemical touch. It's very convincing indeed.
And on the way back down from high velocity, the brakes are sensational, as you'd expect from Porsche. We wouldn't feel the need for the optional ceramic rotors, if we're being honest, although they are embarrassingly noisy at low speeds.
What's the RS not so good at?
The infotainment system is now looking behind the curve, ergonomics are no better than second-rate and many of the finer points of the chassis systems are buried in complex digital menus. Is that right for a car like this? We fear not...
It rides stiffly, as you might expect. While acceptable on autobahns and smooth country roads, it can get busy and jiggly over transverse ridges, manhole covers and other stubble affecting everyday driving. The RS is very LOUD at all speeds (a feature we may forgive for a car so focused), the front apron is so low it'll surely get scraped almost daily and it gobbles fuel at a scary rate when you're 'on it'. Our trip computer plunged below 17mpg in spirited driving...
Is the RS worth £131,296 - some £30k over a regular GT3? Both are sold out, so to some extent this is a hypothetical question. For many drivers, the 476bhp 991 GT3 is plenty - the purest Porsche currently on sale. But for those who want more extreme performance, handling and track-day bragging rights, the RS is it. It's far from practical and may be too extreme for some, but it's still one helluva of a driver's car.