FRANSCHHOEK, WESTERN CAPE – Porsche’s GT3 is more car than almost any driving enthusiast is ever likely to need. But for a few, a GT3 is just the starting point and they require something a bit more hard core… enter the GT3 RS.
Porsche recently launched a revised version of its 991 series GT3 RS, but that does not take away from the brilliance of the earlier 991 GT3 RS. I was lucky enough to drive one recently right here in the Western Cape, thanks to a prominent tax lawyer and close friend of Double Apex.
Despite being closely related, the GT3 and GT3 RS siblings are quite easy to tell apart. The latter model appears far more menacing than its ‘little’ brother. First of the changes is a wider body shell, shared with Turbo S models. This is not immediately evident to all but it helps create a wider, more surefooted stance.
More eye-catching is the huge rear wing, fashioned from carbon-fibre, as are many other parts of this car such as the front wings, luggage area lid and engine cover. Thanks to the CF bits as well as other mass-saving materials, such as the magnesium roof panel, the GT3 RS weighs 1 420 kg, about the same as a family saloon.
More subtle touches
Air outlets on the rear edge of the front fenders and air intakes on the rears aren’t found on the ‘regular’ GT3; both help give the RS version a racier look.
While the slim-line alloys with centre-lock wheel nuts may look (and are) massive, only the eagle-eyed will note that the fronts measure 20 inches in diameter while the rears are an inch larger. Viewed from behind you’ll note that the Michelin semi-slick rubber is, at 325 mm, as wide as any 911 has ever worn and match those found on Porsche’s halo 918 Spyder .
The GT3 RS feels cosseting inside. A large part of that sensation comes from the deep bucket, carbon-fibre seats, identical to those found in the 918 Spyder.
If you need any indication of this car’s intent, just glance over your shoulder to see a roll cage where the rear seats would normally be, and a pair of race harnesses rolled up, ready and waiting for a trip to the track.
A signature tune
Fired up, the GT3 RS sounds like a finely-tuned machine, with just an undertone of signature flat-six woofle. At lower speeds, and from the passenger seat, the ride quality is acceptable, but at these speeds you realise that the entire car is just tensed up waiting to be unleashed.
Once we clear civilization the owner of the car pulls over and offers me the wheel… which I accept without a millisecond of hesitation.
Somehow, I seem to gel pretty easily with 911s, more so than many other cars. Perhaps it’s because I have driven quite a few of the newer models over the years, but finding a comfortable driving position and just getting on with the task at hand is natural for me in these cars.
An eye-widening experience
Feeling comfy behind the wheel I pull out of the layby and tickle the throttle. With over 360 kW even half throttle is enough to make the GT3 RS feel as quick as hot hatch at full tilt. Aware that there’s an abundance of power and torque I short shift into second.
In second gear I unleash the full might of 500 horses and 460 N.m… WOW! The GT3 RS blasts down the road like few other cars can. There’s no dramatics, no flashing traction control light or wiggle from the tail; motive force is just applied uniformly across the rear axle and translated into extremely quick forward motion.
A refined buzz saw
As the scenery around me blurs and the wide-bodied 911 hunkers down for some fun I glance down at the rev-counter. The needle chases the redline like no other naturally aspirated car I’ve driven.
With 7 000 r/min already dialed up there is still 2 000 to go before I need to shift up. As the revs rise, so too does the engine note. The woofle turns into a hard-edged racecar-like howl in the upper regions and eventually mimics a refined buzz saw over the final 1 000 r/min.
While the motor revs up with a healthy appetite, incredibly it is hungriest over the last 1 000 r/min of the rev-range racing to the redline as if there’s no tomorrow.
Rev, shift, repeat
Fractions short of the 9 000 redline I call for the next gear via the metal paddle behind the steering wheel. With just a slight pause the PDK (dual-clutch) transmission hooks the next ratio and the powertrain is ready for a repeat performance.
While I marvel at the ability of such a large engine to rev to these astronomic heights, I almost forget that we’re now travelling quite rapidly. Thankfully the GT3 RS has Porsche’s carbon-ceramic brakes to shed unwanted speed in a hurry, and it doesn’t shy away from the corners.
The aforementioned Michelin Pilot Cup footwear provides oodles of grip through both axles. Despite wearing much wider rear tyres the GT3 RS still manages to feel light on its feet and keen to turn thanks to active rear-wheel steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus that uses the fully variable rear axle differential lock to increase agility.
The net effect is a car that feels as though it has a short wheelbase in low speed/tight corners and then feels stable through higher speed corners. If you’re in the fortunate position to visit a racetrack with extremely high speed corners then the aerodynamics will also come into play, creating downforce for even more grip.
Over too soon
I get to fling the GT3 RS through a few sets of corners, the owner allowing me to play with the cars grip levels and wring the engine out for all its worth and, graciously, not saying too much while I enjoyed piloting his road racer.
The experience becomes addictive. You wind up the motor, enjoying the mechanical mastery happening behind you, slingshot yourself to the next corner and turn-in, enjoy the GT3’s outright grip and body control.
Once you’re out the other side you just want to repeat the action over and over again, but our drive is over too soon. I could spend an entire day in this car just enjoying the driving sensations.
I have been very lucky to have driven 996 and 997 versions of GT3 and GT3 RS models (head over to our Forum section to tell us which is your favourite) and they are all an absolute treat. In the world of road cars, there are few sensations to rival a Porsche machine created by its race division.
The 991 is no different in the thrills and sensations that are fed back to the driver. If ever someone offers you the keys to their GT3, regardless of which series, grab the chance, you’ll not regret it.
Images of silver GT3 RS kindly supplied by Jack Steyl.
Be sure to catch the video below of former Porsche works driver and Le Mans winner Brendon Hartley as he makes his videographer sick while driving a GT3 RS.
Price: R4,25m (current value)
Engine: 4,0-litre, flat-six
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch
Power: 368 kW
Torque: 460 N.m
Top speed: 305 km/h
0-100/200 km/h: 3,3/10,9sec
Fuel consumption: 12,7 L/100 km