Loud and lusty Porsche GT3 RS has the right stuff
Denis Droppa gets up close and personal with the most purist of Porsches
There’s no such thing as a slow Porsche 911, but in the hierarchy of models there are several levels of charisma.
For flat-out distance-crushing performance the GT2 RS is the ultimate 911 with its turbocharged 515kW engine, rendering it nearly powerful enough, it seems, to affect the rotation of the Earth.
But it’s the less powerful GT3 RS, now available in SA, that tends to get spoken of more reverently by sports car “purists” who believe there’s more to life than outright power (no, really).
Compared with the steroid-stuffed GT2 RS, the normally aspirated GT3 RS sends a milder 383kW to the rear wheels, but it’s actually the more viscerally satisfying car. The sound and fury of the thing makes it the 911 for drivers seeking the most intensive automotive experience for all the senses — and in particular the aural receptors.
To hear its 4l flat-six revving at 9,000rpm is a goosebump-inducing thing. As much as they have to give power-wise, turbocharged engines can’t rev as high as naturally aspirated ones nor do they sound as good, and the GT3 uses this to its charisma-enhancing advantage. Revving into the red zone makes you feel as if you’re in the golden circle of a Guns ‘n Roses concert, with a loud and lusty wail like Axl Rose in his prime.
There’s more sonic charm in the way the optionally fitted racing roll cage clunks against the inside of the car when driving over bumps. The cage is part of an optional Clubsport package that also includes a battery disconnect switch, six-point racing harness and fire extinguisher.
And, sweet child 'o mine, does it get going in a hurry. The GT3 RS comes out guns-a-blazing when you floor the throttle, quickly turning the scenery into an onrushing blur.
Porsche quotes 0-100km/h in just 3.2 seconds and a 312km/h top speed with the PDK auto transmission. True purists may clamour for a manual gearbox, but the seven-speed PDK is a quick-shifting example of precision engineering.
Dennis Droppa gets up close and personal with the most purist of Posches
Porsche turned a standard GT3 into an RS by upping the power and torque, retuning the rear-axle steering, and adding racing-style ball joints for greater driving precision. It put the car on a diet by fitting lighter wheels, a magnesium roof, lightweight door panels and reduced sound absorption.
The optional Weissach package ditches another 30kg by using carbon fibre in the bonnet, roof and antiroll bars, and fitting magnesium wheels.
Even the interior door handles are replaced by fabric hoops, although this probably more for show than compulsive weight saving. Carbon bucket seats and an Alcantara-covered steering wheel deliver the sporty show-and-tell in the cabin. The two seats have fixed backrests, and only legroom can be adjusted.
The Porsche Track Precision app that comes as standard provides the driver with smartphone telemetry of lap times and other performance data.
RS-specific aerodynamic add-ons underline the vehicle’s status as a driving machine with a clear racing emphasis. The big rear wing and assorted scoops, apart from serving as flamboyant plumage, keep the car pressed into the tar when chasing lap times. There’s 486kg of downforce at its maximum speed.
The result of all these efforts is a machine that’s lapped the Nurburgring Nordschleife in just 6min56.4s, one of a small handful of road-legal cars to break the mythical seven-minute barrier around the famous circuit.
The PASM active suspension system has two modes: very stiff and ultra stiff, making smooth racetracks the car’s preferred playground. When I drove the GT3 RS on public roads at its SA media launch last week, the super-firm suspension and low-profile tyres (20-inch in front and 21-inch rear), on bumpy roads jolted the body like sitting on a rodeo horse.
And the super-direct steering, which makes the car such an apex-clipping joy on a smooth road, jiggles and jives in your hands when driving on lumpy surfaces at high speed. It requires a firm grasp and a steely constitution.
On well-kept roads the traction is flat-out amazing. The speed at which this rear-wheel drive Porsche can be ushered through twisty tar is a physics-bending suspension of disbelief. Understeer — that bane of an enthusiast driver — is absent from the car’s vocabulary, and is kept at bay by active rear-axle steering which sharpens the turn-in into tight bends, and makes for better stability in faster sections.
The test car was also fitted with ceramic composite brake discs, an option that provides fade-free stopping power even during racetrack punishment.
With the imminent arrival of the next-generation 911, the GT3 RS brings the curtain down on the current series in a car that’s all about lap time-chasing prowess and raw emotion. It’s the most purist and driver-focused of all Porsches, even if it’s not the fastest.
The price is on application, but if you spec it up with all the options don’t expect much change from R5m.