Review: Porsche 911 GT3 RS
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The term ‘race car built for the road’ is thrown around a lot these days, often used to describe regular cars with stiffened suspension, go-fast aero bits and a set of sporty wheels, however, there’s one car that truly encapsulates the meaning of the phrase and that’s the Porsche 911 GT3. Named after the FIA GT class that it was intended for, the 911 GT3 has always been something very different in comparison with the rest of the 911 fleet. Combine this with Porsche’s RS ‘Rennsport’ specification and you’re left with a much tougher and meaner 911, capable of outpacing a number of high profile supercars around a track.
During the 1970s it was the so called ‘duck-tail’ rear wing that distinguished the RS from the standard 911, today, it’s the showy carbon-fiber wing that identifies the track-focused coupe. The car’s strengths lie not only in the amazing speeds it delivers while remaining completely road-legal, but, also because of its engine’s ability to rev well beyond the 8,000rpm mark and a brake package that provides plenty of stopping power without relent even after hours spent at the track.Styling and Interior
It’s not only the carbon-fiber wing and black bands running across the doors that characterize the RS. There are also the rear fenders borrowed from the Carrera 4, which add an extra 22mm of width on either side of the car, larger air-intakes, a lower front lip, centrally mounted exhaust pipes and 19in black alloy rims.
As far as bragging rights go, owners of the older 996 will be able to boast about their car’s carbon-fiber front-hood as well as its Porsche emblem sticker, a clue towards the endearing efforts of engineers to save weight no matter how small. The new 997 picks up an aluminum hood on which a proper shield badge resides.
Inside, the car gets a pair of carbon-fiber sports buckets with a six-point racing harness, a full roll-cage, a fire extinguisher and full Alcantara trim. There are a few accessories that we find hard to believe were installed in a stripped out racer like the RS. These included the satnav system, cruise control and luxurious trim. Thankfully, these extras remain as options.Technical
The GT3 RS is based on the same body as the Carrera 4 and sports the same wider rear end, measuring 1,588mm across. Engineers have also lengthened the car’s wheelbase by a tiny 5mm, which is said to improve the car’s stability. The RS also sheds a further 20kg over the regular GT3, with most of the weight saved by replacing the standard GT3 seats with thinner carbon-fiber buckets and swapping the rear glass window with a plastic one.
The engine remains largely unchanged, displacing 3.6L and pumping out a naturally aspirated 415hp (302kW) at 7,600rpm. Power levels have been improved over the previous 996 model due to several modifications including the adoption of lighter internals, which also sees redline bump up to 8,400rpm from the previous car’s 8,200rpm. The connecting rods have been stretched from 130mm to 131.5mm in order to reduce the friction between the cylinders and pistons, and each one weighs 30g less than in the previous car. Engineers also managed to shave 600g from the mass of the driveshaft. The end result is a dry weight of 1,250kg, however, load it up with the necessary fuels, coolants and oils, and you’re looking at a kerb weight closer to 1,400kg.On the Road
In the GT3 RS, rally legend and Porsche tester Walter Röhrl will lap the Nurburgring in a blisteringly quick 7min 42sec. Slide into the driver’s seat, grip the chunky Alcantara-clad steering wheel, rev the engine, and all of a sudden you start to feel that maybe you could break the all important eight minute ‘ring time as well. Then you pull up at a set of traffic lights and all ambitions go out the window as you realize you’ll never be able to test your skills while stuck on public roads. Fortunately for us, we have a session at a private track lined up.
At idle, the engine has a rough, mechanical sound to it, and, when pushed to the limits, emanates the boisterous trademark rumble of Porsche’s actual GT3 racers. As you slide the slick gearbox into first, load up plenty of revs and then release the clutch, the huge 305mm semi-slick Michelin Pilot Cup Sport tires struggle to find grip before finally clamping down and propelling the car to 100km/h in an as tested 4.3 seconds.
Around town, everything is done with a heavy hand. Stop-start traffic will give your left leg a serious work out as it deals with a very stiff clutch and the firm suspension sees every bump on the road reverberate through the hard plastic seats. Head to an open road and allow the car to build some speed and you’ll soon forget all previous complaints. Turn-in is sharp and accurate thanks to the copious amount of group and the light feel in the front, and the RS responds quickly to even the slightest of inputs to the steering wheel.
The rear of the car feels very stable, its wider girth being very noticeable and constantly reminding you there’s just a little extra grip over the narrower 911 field. The understeer that normally characterizes the 911 is left for dead and the roll and pitch of the car is barely perceptible. Hit the ‘Sport’ button, and the car’s torque levels get a boost while the traction control is softened, giving us the chance to really push the car to the limits. At this point, it’s important to be aware of the ease at which the rear will spin around from even the mildest of inputs to the throttle. However, it remains very controllable at this point and bringing it back into line is done with just a little throttle and control of the steering wheel.Final Verdict
It’s useless to talk about the comfort of this special version of the GT3 because the car’s strengths at the track translate to poor ride and comfort around town. Where it suffers the most is the hard-riding suspension, the harsh noise and vibration of the engine, and the rigid bucket seats.
For those Porsche customers who desire the extreme performance but without the loss of comfort, we’d strongly recommend going for the Turbo. The force-fed 911 is much more useable on the road and it won’t set you back an arm and a leg over the cost of the GT3 RS. Of course, there’s always that crowd for whom only the purest of race cars homologated for the road will suffice and for that there is only the GT3 RS.Gallery: 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 RS