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Car group tests

Porsche 911 GT3 RS vs Nissan GT-R Track Edition

Porsche's latest 911 GT3 RS takes on a maxed out Nissan GT-R in a track and road battle

Track days are more popular than ever, as keen drivers seek out safe thrills away from congested and speed camera covered public roads. As a result, there’s a thriving industry in cars that are designed with race circuits in mind.

Most are lightweight and relatively affordable models such as the Caterham Seven and Lotus Elise, but there’s also a growing trend for more exotic machinery. 

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One of the latest arrivals is the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Based on the standard GT3, this new model draws heavily on the brand’s extensive motorsport knowledge to provide a true ‘race car for the road’ experience.

Best sports cars to buy in 2015

It has all the right ingredients to succeed, as it features a high-revving 495bhp engine, extensive aerodynamic enhancements, a bespoke suspension set-up and four-wheel steering. Yet Porsche also claims that this RS is the most user-friendly model yet – a car you can drive to work in during the week, before pounding around a circuit at weekends.

Yet it’s not the only sports car that’s been given a circuit flavour. The Nissan GT-R Track Edition combines the explosive engine and four-wheel-drive transmission of the regular model with suspension, tyres and stronger bodyshell of the wild Nismo version.

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Both these cars offer intense on-track excitement, but at this rarefied price point they also have to be usable every day. We hit road and track to see which of these contenders gets your pulse racing faster and leaves a bigger grin on your face.

Head to head

Engines

Both cars feature six-cylinder units and are within 50bhp of one another. But they’re very different.

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The 911’s naturally aspirated flat-six is pure race car, with a screaming 8,500rpm red line, razor-sharp response and exotic materials. The GT-R’s hand-built twin-turbo isn’t as characterful, yet it’s brutally effective, giving 0-60mph in 3.4 seconds.

Extreme tyres

To maximise track performance, the 911 is fitted with Michelin Cup Sport 2 tyres. These have a 265 section at the front and a mammoth 325 at the rear.

The Nissan’s Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tyres are narrower, at 255 and 285 respectively. Both sets of rubber are a little twitchy when wet, but deliver staggering grip once warmed through.

Aerodynamics

The Nissan’s body is virtually identical to the standard car’s, but the 911 has plenty of aero enhancements. The unique vented front wings generate up to 110kg of downforce, while the vast rear spoiler creates 220kg. Overall, it offers twice as much downforce as Porsche’s 997 GT3 RS 4.0.

Verdict

1st place: Porsche 911 GT3 RS

We wanted to find the car that delivered more thrills on the road and the track – and in this respect, the Porsche is almost without equal. Outrageously fast and hugely involving, the new GT3 RS redefines what’s possible for a road-legal car to do on a circuit. Yet it’s remarkably easy to live with as well as surprisingly efficient. It’s also a sure-fire future classic.

2nd place: Nissan GT-R Track Edition

Nearly £90,000 may seem a lot for a Nissan, but money will be no object for buyers as this Track Edition is the best GT-R yet. With ferocious performance, agile handling and plenty of kit, the car still delivers lots of bang for your buck. It just struggles to contain its weight after a few hard laps, the firm ride proves irritating on the road and it has a real thirst for fuel.

Coming soon

BMW M4 GTS

BMW M4 GTS - front

Like the Porsche, the M4 GTS has a stripped-out interior, aerodynamic additions and nearly 500bhp. A rear-wheel-drive layout promises lively handling, while the BMW claims 0-62mph in just 4.3 seconds. And with just 30 examples set for the UK, exclusivity is guaranteed.

Figures

 Porsche 911 GT3 RSNissan GT-R Track Edition
On the road price/total as tested£132,451/£145,087£88,560/£89,410
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£63,603/48.0%£45,298/51.2%
Depreciation£68,848£43,262
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£9,716/£19,432£6,468/£12,936
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£2,690/£4,483£3,526/£5,876
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost50/£1,209/M/£50550/£1,310/M/£505
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£700/£1,250/£700*£297/£416/£727
   
Length/wheelbase4,545/2,456mm4,870/2,780mm
Height/width1,291/1,880mm1,370/1,895mm
EngineFlat-six/3,996ccV6/3,799cc
Peak power/revs 495/8,250 bhp/rpm542/6,400 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 460/6,250 Nm/rpm632/3,200 Nm/rpm
Transmission 7-spd twin-clutch/rwd6-spd twin-clutch/4wd
   
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel64 litres/foam74 litres/foam
Boot capacity125 litres315 litres
Kerbweight/payload1,420/300kg1,740/460kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.0 metres/0.34Cd12.0 metres/0.26Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unltd)/3yrs3yrs (60k)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,000 miles (2yrs)/3612,000 miles (1yr)/225
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.6th/8th28th/29th
   
0-60/30-70mph3.7/2.5 secs3.4/2.9 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.5/3.3 secs2.1/3.3 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th4.0/5.0/6.1 secs3.4/5.1 secs/N/A
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 193mph/2,900rpm196mph/2,400rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 38.6/25.1/8.6m40.3/28.5/8.3m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph74/59/67/74dB65/55/69/72dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range23.2/5.1/327 miles17.7/3.9/288 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 14.7/31.7/22.2mpg16.6/32.1/23.9mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 3.2/7.0/4.9mpl3.6/7.1/5.3mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket281/296g/km/37%369/275g/km/37%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSix/£122/no/noSix/yes/£370/yes
Automatic box/stability/cruise controlYes/yes/£267Yes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/£2,064/£320Yes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless goYes/yes/no£850/LEDs/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£2,141/y/£324/£448Yes/yes/yes/yes
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