2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS first drive review: fierce and focused

ALGARVE, PORTUGAL – The most fearsome, trackworthy Porsche is no longer the naturally aspirated GT3. If Nürburgring Nordschleife lap times mean anything to you, the wondrously capable 918 Spyder has also been eclipsed. The latest King of the ‘Ring and sharpest weapon in the Porsche lineup is the $294,250 911 GT2 RS, a twin-turbocharged, 700 horsepower, rear wheel-drive monster that demolished a lap of the 12.9-mile 'Ring in 6:47.3.

The bespoilered 911 steals the crown from the Lamborghini Huracán Performante by 5 seconds, and is a stunning 10 seconds faster than the all-wheel drive, 887-horsepower 918 Spyder. So when I was invited to sample Porsche’s latest, greatest at the undulating Portimão Circuit in southwestern Portugal, I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough.

A 700-horsepower 911

The GT2 RS’s power gain over the 580-horsepower Turbo S comes from bigger, variable geometry turbos; an updated crankcase and pistons; and a novel multitube air filter that enhances the 3.8-liter flat-6’s breathing.

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Cooling is also key to the performance equation, especially since the engine is at a natural disadvantage due to its aft-mounted layout. Aiding the task is a mechanism with twin nozzles that spray the intercooler during high-temperature conditions, reducing intake temps by as much as 70º F. The system is fed via a carbon fiber, frunk-mounted reservoir. Badass looking NACA ducts on the hood feed air to the massive 16.1-inch carbon ceramic front rotors.

2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Aggressive lightweighting is an equally critical part of the go-fast approach. Ditching some 300 pounds compared to the all-wheel drive Turbo S for a curb weight of 3,241 lbs, the GT2 RS incorporates a carbon fiber front lid, a magnesium roof, polyurethane front and rear aprons, and a titanium muffler, among other bits. Nylon door straps may shave a sliver of weight, but we’ll call Porsche’s bluff on this one; the material appears to be used to create a sense of occasion and deference to 1970s-era RS cars. Removal of the rear seats is a more legitimate move, as it shaves 21 pounds.

As for the chassis, for the first time in a road-going Porsche, the suspension benefits from steel ball joints all around, replacing rubber bushings. Buyers can also opt for the $31,000 Weissach package, which saves an extra 40 pounds through carbon fiber sway bars, magnesium wheels, and carbon fiber for the front lid, roof, and rear wing.

911 GT2 RS mode

I’d normally consider my tester’s garish red Alcantara headliner overkill, but when I twist the ignition key with my left hand, I soon forget it when I hear deliciously rough-edged thrum whose bite is as loud as the car’s visual bark. There's no Sport or Sport+ mode or small steering wheel-mounted manettino dial you’ll find on lesser Porsches: the only drivetrain settings here are PDK Sport (which shifts the dual-clutch 7-speed more aggressively), stability control off, and stability and traction control off. Man mode, indeed.

Though it feeds even more decibels into the cabin, the sport exhaust button doesn’t exactly beg to be pressed; any more engine sound, and even the hardiest among us will wish we'd packed earplugs.

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