WORDS: ALEX GOY | PHOTOS: PORSCHE
There are a handful of cars that take the breath from your chest and leave you wondering whether, perhaps, road machines have reached the limit of what’s acceptable. The 992.1 911 GT3 RS is one of them. It’s an addictive mix of extremes, but that’s to be expected from Porsche’s most committed engineers.
If you’re not au fait with Porsche’s GT cars, they’re what happens when you want an uncompromised, unencumbered, un… hinged ride that you can use daily. They’re lighter, harder, more powerful and a cut above the rest of the Porsche range. What you sacrifice in comfort you get in tighter handling, quicker lap times and more engagement – they’re lusted over by many, enjoyed by few and are genuinely brilliant works of engineering. The latest GT3 RS is nothing short of a masterpiece, a perfect example of the breed. But that comes at a cost some may find unpalatable.
It’s rather moreish, that noise – so much so, that hammering up to its 9000rpm red line becomes a fiendish game
You can’t miss its extreme look. It’s not just for show, or to make older GT3 RS’s look a bit naff, but it’s all functional. It’s got active aero up front, ducts that channel air cleanly around the car, an active wing so large you can see it from space (on a clear day), a single radiator up front that eats a 911’s usual frunk room but frees up space for airflow, pressure-relieving ducts, hot-air-moving ducts and, well, the sort of stuff that you’d think about putting on an endurance racer and go “is it too much?” The result is a downforce monster. At 180mph, it’ll develop 860kg of downforce. For reference, an adult female giraffe weighs 830kg. It’ll go round corners well then.
On top of the aero, the GT3 RS has been made as light as possible thanks to composite body panels, stripping unnecessary nonsense out and using stickers in places of badges, and it weights in at 1,450kg. A little heavier than the GT3 that sits below it, but a modest power bump and all that aero should make up for it. Its motor is a naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six that punts out 518bhp and 343lb ft – plenty when you think about it. With relatively little weight to push around, it’ll crack 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds and head up to 184mph. It is not a slow vehicle.
Naturally, it has massive brakes, stiff-as-you-like suspension, huge tyres and a wider track as well. It’s not messing about at all. Same goes for the inside – there’s a roll cage where you’d normally have rear seats, fabric door handles and little by way of creature comforts. Usually you’ll spot a drive-select wheel on the steering wheel – swing it to change the car’s ride and drivetrain behaviour – but on the GT3 RS there are more to adjust ESC, the torque-vectoring differential and damping on the fly. You can fiddle with even more in the car’s touchscreen, because why wouldn’t there be?
A techfest it may be, and it’s certainly a joy to play with on a circuit (where, thankfully, a high percentage of GT cars spend their time), but what about the road? After all, to get to Silverstone you need to take the A43…
This time, though, a jaunt up the Col de Turini is on the cards. Which means a right-hand-drive car on the wrong side of the road. Not only that, but a massively wide RHD Porsche on narrow roads full of blind bends. Oh, and to spice things up further, the roads are close to freezing and the car’s on ‘all-season’ rubber. No pressure.
Setting off in its most inert Normal setting, the GT3 RS happily putters along, engine making pleasing howls as its myriad computers dictate which of its PDK transmission’s seven speeds it should be in. The ride isn’t what you’d call smooth, even if you were being charitable, but it’s bearable over the various lumps and bumps it has to contend with. The one-piece carbon buckets are snug, even for someone who doesn’t frequent Greggs, but they’re not so hard that your backside loses its feeling. As a ‘practical’ car it’s not ideal – there’s not much by way of luggage space, and the view out of the rear is mostly of the wing, but the idea here is that you escape the cars behind you, right?
As the roads get tighter, a switch up to Sport is necessary. It gets louder and harder, and you feel it coming into its own. As you press on, exploring what the GT3 RS can truly do, you realise this is a car way beyond the ability of 99.9 percent of drivers. It’ll fire itself down a straight, and begs to brake as late as possible before you turn in. The steering will truly blow you away, as it’s perfectly weighted and gives millimetre-precise feedback. If something goes on under the front wheels, you’ll know about it.
The speed at which everything happens is overwhelming. You reach a corner, brake as late as you dare, turn in, get the power on and fly away again. Even though you’re busy, the car is feeding you information – either via its various displays or through your feet and hands. All the while its glorious engine booms, howls and wails naturally aspirated deliciousness through the cabin. It’s rather moreish, that noise – so much so, that hammering up to its 9000rpm red line becomes a fiendish game. Every time you hit it, a pleasing click of a paddle starts a new round instantly, your smile widens and you repeat for as long as you can. To not try to see what those seven ratios have to offer would be rude.
As you’re frantically keeping an eye on the next bend, when it’s time to change and… everything else, you become so involved in the process you might not notice you’re having a proper workout, but the endorphin hit the GT3 RS provides is worth it. Tight, unknown roads aren’t the best time to play with the various car-transforming switches – those, much like its angriest powertrain and suspension settings, are best left to a circuit you know well.
Getting out, you realise that you’ve been joyously fighting the car. It can do so much more than most people will ever be able to use effectively, or legally. Whatever you throw at it will be shrugged off – you’re not even tickling the breadth of its abilities, yet as a driver and human… you’re left wondering what more you can give.
A new GT3 RS is a treat, and shows what can truly be done if you give engineers space to do what they do best. But the latest iteration seems, in the hands of mere mortals, wasted on the road. It needs a track, and whoever gets behind the wheel needs to know what they’re doing.
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