Out of Porsche’s recent horde of GT models, this one is special
– PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS –
Do you get confused by the sheer number of Porsche GT models that are produced? In the last three years alone there’s been the previous GT3 RS, the 911R, a new GT3, a GT3 Touring, a GT2 RS and now this new GT3 RS. And the temptation therefore is to think of this GT3 RS as being like the last one, only more so. Tempting, understandable even, given how similar they look and appear to be specified, but – wrong. The truth is that every time Porsche makes a new RS, it feels the need to vary the formula, sometimes seemingly just to keep us on our toes.
The original 996-based GT3 RS was a very uncompromising machine, while those of the 997 era were far more accommodating and tolerant of what you might call ‘normal’ use. The last GT3 RS didn’t like that approach, so went for something far more track-orientated, which seemed a very hard-core solution, right up to the moment I met this latest GT3 RS on the Isle of Man and was made to think all over again.
This GT3 RS makes that one feel like a snoozing spaniel. It may have only another 20bhp from its 4-litre flat-six motor but some indication of the direction in which the wizards of Weissach have gone with this car is provided by the fact the front springs are now literally twice as stiff as those of its predecessor, those at the back raised by a comparatively trifling 40 per cent.
In fact, the best way to think of this car is not as a new GT3 RS per se, but what it really is, which is a normally aspirated GT2 RS; for it has far more in common with that utterly lunatic machine than the car that ostensibly sired it. The very fact this GT3 is quicker around the Nürburgring than the purpose- built mid-engined 918 Spyder despite a, wait for it, 374bhp power deficit tells you all you need to know.
No surprises, then, that I enjoyed driving it on the Isle of Man. But I’d have enjoyed it far more on a race track. Even out here where people are rare, cars rarer still and speed limits literally non-existent outside the towns and villages, it felt hemmed in. There was no question of really putting it through its paces – in the dry there was just too much grip, in the wet not nearly enough on the semi-slick Dunlop Sport Maxx Race 2 rubber the test car was running on.
The engine is rivalled only by the Lamborghini Huracan Performante’s V10 for the title of greatest normally aspirated motor in production, and at its 9000rpm red line is so loud in the car you might genuinely want to consider wearing ear plugs.
It was, in short, a mesmerising few hours in the car, but ones that left me begging for an environment that not even the greatest limit-free roads in the world could provide.
On the road, a standard GT3 is a better bet, and not just because, unlike the RS, you can buy one with a manual box. On the track? I don’t know, but I’ll consider it a personal failure if I’ve not answered that question before the year is out.