If you’re one of those people who think that Porsche should have given up on the 911 formula years ago – despite the gazillions of race victories and countless great road iterations that prove you’re wrong – then the GT3 RS 4.0 is just another refinement of a flawed concept.
However, for those of us who are in on the secret that the 911 is actually bloody brilliant and that rear engine offers massive traction advantages and a unique tactility, this is the 997 we’ve been waiting for.
The new 2011 GT3 RS 4.0 is the last hurrah for the motorsport-derived Mezger flat-six (it was designed by Hans Mezger, who also did F1 engines when they had over 1000bhp), the last hurrah for the Porsche Motorsport-developed 997s and it’s utterly magnificent.
So what’s so special about the Porsche GT3 RS 4.0?
Just 600 will be built, with less than 30 coming to the UK at a whopping £128,466, so it’ll be pretty rare. In fact, all have already sold out.
However, this car trades on dynamic brilliance rather than scarcity. The engine is the main event, with the block from the RSR racer, a unique induction system from the GT3 R Hybrid racer and trick new headers, race cats and a titanium exhaust to let those cylinders breathe. The result is a startling 494bhp at 8250rpm and 340lb ft at 5750rpm. Porsche claim it’ll run from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and hit 193mph.
That engine is hooked-up to a six speed manual running the same shortish gear ratios from the GT3 RS 3.8 (significantly shorter than the ‘normal’ GT3) and it feels every bit of its 494bhp. The torque is just e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e and yet it revs like a motorbike, too. A GT2 RS might be quicker, but we’d trade that car’s mighty thump for this thrilling delivery and the accuracy of the throttle that can only be achieved with a normally aspirated engine.
A GT3 RS 3.8 plus 10%, then?
That pretty much sums it up, but when you remember that the 3.8 is one of the great drivers’ cars of all time, that’s hardly a criticism. And there are enough improvements beside the engine to make the 4.0 unique and even more compelling. It’s got the rose-jointed rear lower arms from the GT2 RS, plus that car’s carbon fibre bonnet and front wings, stiffer springs and bespoke PASM damper tuning, too. The result is a car that retains enough suppleness for all but the most awful roads and blessed with incredible precision in the way it changes direction.
The very brave might find a smidge of understeer in tighter corners but the extra torque and the accuracy of the drivetrain means you can easily neutralise it with more power, or adopt a more considered turn-in phase and then utilise the torque and superb traction to fire out of corners with the engine chomping around to 8500rpm. Increased aero from front dive planes and a more steeply raked rear wing are said to also make a big difference to high speed cornering on track – but on road it’s enough that it feels secure and trustworthy.
It’s easy to be cynical about another new 911, but this car is something very special indeed: The culmination of the 997’s rapid evolution, a celebration of that amazingly strong and characterful engine, a supercar that cuts the crap and just delivers a pure and addictive driving experience. If you’re a 911-hater this piece and these pictures won’t convince it’s anything other than an engineering dead end. But about 3-minutes behind the wheel would. You’d be babbling about how great it is. I guarantee it. And you wouldn’t be alone. I’ve barely stopped doing just that since I drove it.