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Driven — 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Driven — 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Dejan Jovanovic 3 years ago
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Weissach’s latest Porsche 911 GT3 RS is the fastest naturally aspirated car the company has ever made and one of the purest driving experiences on sale today – Motormouth drives it round the modern Nürburgring Grand Prix layout

Since the first 996 GT3 RS in 2003 and this latest 2018 evolution, Porsche’s found more than a minute around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The new 991.2 generation 911 GT3 RS lapped the ‘Ring in 6:56.4, after the turbocharged GT2 RS and the million-dollar 918 Spyder hypercar, the third Porsche to go sub-seven.

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Rear-wheel steering, torque vectoring, electronic rear diff, uniball bearings, the new Porsche 911 GT3 RS is a race car with licence plates…

There’s no secret to it – it’s built by the same people that take 911s racing every weekend, by the company’s GT department in Weissach that’s finally reached peak 911 after 55 years of honing the same contradictory idea. Even though we seem to say it every time, this is the closest thing to a Cup car Porsche will put on the public road, and yet another level of eye-opening performance you thought you’d reached in the previous GT model. Just then, Porsche releases a 911 that once again redefines the limitations of this rear-engined, two-wheel drive, naturally-aspirated formula.

Compared to the previous GT3 RS, the new car has somehow slashed 24 seconds off its Nordschleife lap time for the biggest generational leap yet. It’s the sixth car to wear the badge, which is actually a sticker in the name of weight saving.

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The optional Weissach package saves 11.5kg and costs nearly $19,000

Weissach went wild – in simple terms this is a GT2 RS without the turbochargers. It’s got the Turbo widebody dimensions, and a fixed rear wing that generates nearly 150kg of downforce at 200kph. Useful, because you can take everything at 200. Go mad with the configurator and you get magnesium 20-inch and 21-inch staggered wheels, carbon fibre roof, lightweight panels, and titanium roll-cage. The moment you drop into a GT3 RS bucket seat and look over the shallow dash and upright windscreen, over the bulged wheel arches, with a perfectly round steering wheel in front of you completely rid of any multifunctional distractions, you share a mutual sense of purpose with this car. You just want to go really, really fast.

The lack of sound absorption material is welcome, not only for the 1,430kg kerb weight figure, but also to absolutely revel in the shrill a 4.0-litre flat-six makes at 9,000rpm. A GT3 RS will fulfill most people’s expectations of a thrilling sports car at 7,000rpm, but once you discover the limit and this car’s insistence on being thrashed, you’ll never short shift again.

Directly related to the racing engine, the 4.0-litre makes 520 horsepower and comes paired up with a seven-speed twin-clutch ‘box, where the only let down lies – the paddles behind the wheel feel a bit inadequate in travel and feel considering the forces at play. With a full-throttle launch the GT3 RS will do zero to 100kph in 3.2 seconds and succumb to drag at 312kph. 

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Composite 380mm brakes are standard but you can also choose 410mm carbon ceramics

 

You won’t tire from this kind of pull and the engineering integrity you feel just from the throttle pedal, but the GT3 RS is still about the corners. Into the fast sweepers around the modern Nürburgring layout, the standard 380mm composite brakes feel consistent lap after lap and carry this 911 so deep into the corners without any drama from the back end. The 325/30 rear Michelins take all the chassis can handle too, and there’s so much precision and stability in this car you forget the engine is in the back – in fine-tuning this GT3 RS, Porsche has defied the design’s inherent imbalance.

Maybe that means it isn’t a real 911, but only in the sense that it won’t spit you off ass-first if you so much as lift off. You still feel the immense rear traction out of every sharp corner, but it’s everywhere else that the car feels textbook perfect, like a template sports car rather than some left-field Beetle mutation.

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Just like you get in the 700 horsepower GT2 RS, the GT3 RS features steel ball-joint suspension, rear-axle steering, and a ram-air intake system plus NACA ducts for front brake cooling. It’s the ultimate expression of Weissach’s rear-engined compulsion, and even in the face of exclusively mid-engined competition the new 911 GT3 RS has continued its hereditary trend. It’s also a demonstration in how to create a pure sports car using cold, ruthless, racing engineering.

Although we didn’t get a chance to try it on public roads, this Porsche’s flexible engine and accurate steering should make it nicely useable in all conditions – the suspension handles bumps superbly although the dampers are twice as stiff as the previous RS which makes it a daily driver only for the truly committed.

Even if prospective buyers will have plenty of options in their garages, for one sports car to rule them all the new Porsche 911 GT3 RS is nearly impossible to beat.

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2018 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

4.0-litre flat-six | seven-speed twin-clutch, rear-wheel drive | 520 horsepower and 470Nm of torque | 0-100kph in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 312kph | $188,000

2018 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
9.5

Total Rating

9.5
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