Porsche 911 GT3 RS

15 Feb, 2010 3:30pm Adam Towler

Hottest 911 ever is unleashed, and we’re first behind wheel

Verdict

5
Any 911 wearing this badge has an awful lot to live up to – but the latest GT3 RS is a thrilling machine. From its wild looks to the stripped-out interior, it really sets pulses racing. Designed under the same roof as the racing 911, it’s a hardcore, niche product that offers masses of raw ability. And despite being incredibly capable on the race track, the RS is still brilliant as a road car – because it’s so much fun to drive at any speed.

The most extreme 911 ever has arrived! This is the GT3 RS, which can lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany seven seconds faster than its predecessor – in about seven-and-a-half minutes. That makes it one of the most incredible Porsches in history.

As the name suggests, the newcomer is based on the latest GT3, but it’s lighter and more powerful, and promises an even more focused driving experience. It uses the same wide-arch bodyshell as the Carrera 4 and Turbo models, but also has unique front
wheelarch extensions to house wider rubber.

The 3.8-litre flat six-cylinder engine has been given an all-new induction system, which breathes through enlarged ‘ram air’ intakes on the rear deck.

This helps to raise power from 429bhp to 444bhp, with the unit revving to a raucous 8,500rpm before the limiter cuts in.

At 1,370kg, the RS is around 25kg lighter than the regular GT3, even though its wider body is heavier to start with. The most obvious weight-saving measures include the fitting of a composite engine lid, plastic rear windscreen, carbon wing and light wheels.

But the RS also makes do without cup-holders or sound-deadening in the roof. What’s more, it features fabric pulls instead of interior door handles to shave off a few more grams.

Climb into the bucket seat – trimmed in race-style, flame-resistant Nomex – and you’re faced by a minimalist dash with no sound system or air-con. These are available only as optional extras. Adding to the drama is the fact that all you can see through the rear view mirror is the roll cage.

The RS effect is intensified by the thump of the engine on start-up and the clatter from the single-mass lightweight flywheel. This is a 911 built with the race track in mind – and that means the ride is very firm and the cabin noisy, while the gearlever and clutch require some muscle.

But the engine is perfectly usable around town, and the fabulously communicative steering is light and easy in operation. To be fair, even the ride is bearable away from the worst road surfaces. The RS’s revised tyres and suspension make progress smoother than in the regular GT3.

Yet while you could use this Porsche every day, you’ll live for the moments when you can drive it hard. We didn’t get to try the car on a track, but even on the narrow mountain roads of our wet route, we came away with an idea of exactly how capable the GT3 RS is. Its new aerodynamic package serves up a massive increase in downforce, and as well as grip, the car delivers plenty of grunt. It’s incredibly addictive to drive.

The RS leaps forward with amazing punch, and offers the kind of razor-sharp responses usually reserved for a race car. Acceleration is scintillating, and even though sixth gear has been shortened, the model still hits a 192mph top speed – a helpful side effect of the shorter gearing is that you can use more revs on the road.

Those wider tyres mean a larger contact point with the tarmac, and work in tandem with the suspension tweaks to make drivers even more confident when turning into a corner. The optional ceramic brakes fitted to our car deliver immense stopping power, too.

The downside of running the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres is their intolerance to wet and cold conditions. Drivers will be glad the RS is fitted with traction and stability control.

When the regular GT3 is so good, it’s difficult to justify spending £18,777 more on the RS version. But for those who can afford it, this ultimate 911 won’t disappoint.

Rival: Lamborghini 550-2 Balboni
Special-edition Lamborghini Gallardo is 30kg lighter than the standard car because only the rear wheels are driven. It’s more focused as a result. But the Balboni is even more pricey than the GT3 RS, at £160,000.

Key specs

* Price: £104,841
* Engine: 3.8-litre flat six-cylinder
* Power: 444bhp
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
* 0-62mph: 4.0 seconds
* Top speed: 192mph
* Economy: 21.4mpg
* CO2: 314g/km
* Equipment: Half roll cage, centre lock lightweight wheels, Alcantara suede steering wheel
* On sale: Now

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