What is it?
Details, details, details. Yes, there’s a new Porsche 911 GT3 RS and that means there are lots of them. This is how GT Porsches go.
Is there a more consistent, more progressively evolutionary range of sports cars? GT comes, GT goes, probably a 3, maybe a 2, sometimes an RS, another GT arrives: all towards the latter end of a particular 911’s model cycle. All with minor but significant upgrades over the last. And, usually, redefining just how lovely you thought a driver’s Porsche could be.
The latest evolution comes the form of the ultimate naturally-aspirated ‘991.2’ generation 911, if you like these codes (and they seem to be the only way to keep up, sometimes), which will remain on sale until this generation of 911 goes out of production next year.
So, of 991 types of 911, there was 991 1st generation GT3 and GT3 RS, then 991 2nd generation GT3, then turbocharged GT2 RS, and now GT3 RS, the 911 with “the closest link to motorsport we have ever had”, says GT boss Andreus Preuninger.
That’s saying something, given the first ever GT3 RS, the 996 (do keep up), was created solely because Porsche needed to homologate two suspension uprights for its race cars. The engineers thought they might sell 700 and ended up shifting a couple of thousand. So these days marketing people as much as engineers drive the GT models forward.
This generation GT3 RS is not limited in volume, per se, but even at £141,346 there won’t be enough for everyone. They can only make so many alongside the regular 911s people also buy, and impending emissions regulations will also limit the numbers that can be registered in the EU – 1000 by this September, more next year, while Porsche works out supply deals and then seems generally surprised how many people want these specials: magnesium wheels, for example, mean that until 2019 you won’t be able to specify a ‘Weissach Package’ GT3 RS, which sheds 28kg on top of an already lightweight build, because the magnesium wheels – of exactly the size and design apart from the inscription on them – are all needed for GT2 RS models, on which everybody is specifying the Weissach option, again to Porsche’s surprise.
But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself. Easily done with a car like this: you start talking about one thing, and get lost into the web of details that takes you to.
For example: the NACA ducts on the bonnet. Just two small inlets. They suck air inwards and force it down to the brakes, but from there we can talk brakes or drag or downforce. Brake-wise: you can get standard steel discs or upgrade to carbon-ceramics, which are lighter but considerably more expensive; so if you’re spending loads of time on track it’s worth keeping the steels, perhaps counter-intuitively.
Drag? Those NACA ducts shove cool air into the wheelarch, but high pressure air in the wheelarch is a bunch of air you don’t want, so the wheel spokes are designed like rotors to fan air outwards, sucking it out of the arches. That reduces not just drag but also lift, as does the fact that, thanks to those bonnet ducts, vents in the front bumper that would have been used for brake cooling can instead direct fast moving air to the underbody, and fast moving air is good because it creates a low pressure area which aids the creation of downforce. The wider sills create a larger underfloor area for the same purpose, as does a rear diffuser.
And so it goes on: every detail leads to a hundred other things, all of which offer tiny percentage improvements of performance and handling, and added together they represent a step-change over the models they compliment or replace. It’s hard to know where to begin and end.
In short, though? The GT3 RS is a 4.0-litre, naturally-aspirated 911 whose 513bhp engine is a lot like the 911 Cup race car’s. There is rose-jointed suspension like a GT2 RS (and Cup car), spring rates close to the 911 Cup’s and almost as much downforce as a Cup car.
You’ve had to do a bit more than remove the registration number and fit a race number, but to convert from road car to race car is closer here than in anything this side of a Caterham. (Bar a Citroen C1, perhaps.)