2011 Porsche 911 (997) 3.8 GT3 RS ReviewPosted by: David Hurth / Category: Porsche, Road Test
We are all waiting for the new Porsche 911 (991) GT3 to be released, but in the mean time you can get a year or two old Porsche 911 GT3 RS, for pretty close to the same price as a new Porsche 911 (991) Carrera S, once you add all the options you are going to want. The question, is do you want a race car for the street. A car that even in a couple year old form, will bring most other cars on the road to their knees.
Over at the The Definitive Auto Review, they have put together a road test of a 2011 Porsche 911 (997) 3.8 GT3 RS and have shared that with us. So, below is their road test.
Choosing a 911 over its rivals has always been much like choosing a pet lion over a dog or a cat. It was fantastic fun until, one day, it ate your leg. Which it would, because it was a lion.
The problem is, Porsche have always insisted on putting their flat six behind the rear axle. This is as wrong as Poland invading Germany. The power is coming from the wrong side. The result is a giant pendulum swinging about behind you. Certainly, it presses down over the rear wheels more, giving better traction. However, the moment you explore the limits of grip, not even Obi-Wan could tell you what would happen. Come in 1% too hot for a corner, and you have understeer. Lift off, and immediately it switches to death-dealing oversteer. Such was the way with the 911. If you saw a corner, it was better to jump out and save yourself. Instead of moving the engine, the Germans have continuously re-engineered their way round the problem. Over the years, it has become the defining characteristic of the car. Credit where it’s due, they’ve sort of cracked it here.
In 1999, Porsche introduced us to the 911 GT3. This was a more powerful, lightweight version named after the FIA racing series it was built for. Then, in 2003, Porsche made an even more hardcore variant of that hardcore 911. The GT3 Rennsport was even lighter, and even more powerful. Now, they’ve revamped that RS. The latest offering is the most focused road car Porsche have ever made. This is essentially a 911 GT3 Cup car with a splash of leather. And now it’s time for me to test this lion on steroids.
The Road Test:
The GT3 RS is a complete anorexic. To give you an idea of just how serious the problem is, take the badge. On a normal GT3, it’s enamel. On the RS, it’s a sticker. The door handles have been replaced with cloth. The rear seats have been replaced with air. This car has an optional lightweight battery, saving 11 kg at the loss of $1,753. An entirely new intake has been designed. This is multiple days worth of work, and it only saves a kilogram—one. I feel guilty driving this after having lunch. That said, the interior isn’t entirely devoid: I still had a radio! No air-conditioning though. OK, maybe it is devoid.
On the outside, the Germans have given it a rare touch of flamboyance. “GT3RS” stickers adorn the widened fenders, chequered racing stripes run down the side, and the wheels are red. Red wheels?! Who do the Germans think they are—the Italians? The front splitter is low enough to give an entire colony of ants a haircut, and the spoiler could handle a giraffe. This car then, would make a perfect safari exploration vehicle. Unfortunately, we have only twisting long beach back roads to drive it over.
This is a safari car, so it’ll probably be quite quiet. Negative: that flat six is spine tingling. It’s a primeval, raw sort of rev. First gear, clutch out. The gearing isn’t near straight cut so no annoying whine. This feels, well, civilized. You have a spoiler in your rearview instead of road, but you can still get a good sense of where all four corners of the car are. As others have become swollen, the 911 has stayed small. Even pulling out onto the road, it felt nimble. Nimble is a bit of an understatement even. It took a quick one-two chicane steer like a mosquito. It darts without being busy at the steering wheel. Coming round fairly new asphalt, I let the engine rev freely. Above 5,000, the noise is euphoric. Like a 458, but less synthetic. It nearly convinced me I was in an FIA championship. The gearing is extremely close, such that it is quite easy to keep it in the powerband. I am extremely glad that Porsche haven’t bothered inventing a new PDK. The 6-speed gearbox requires some manly effort, but it’s more rewarding to conquer. Zero to 60 flies by in around 4 seconds, and onwards to an excess of 190 MPH. Additionally, Automobile magazine claims it can maintain more than 1.0G on a skid pad. The numbers may not seem huge, but the sensations are.
All this lack-of-anything makes the RS impeccable through the bends. You can actually feel where the grip is on the road through the steering rack. Turn in is extremely quick, if a bit vague. I really do believe it could out corner an F430 Scuderia. The chassis is extremely well sorted and planted. Planted so much that you can play with the taps mid-corner. It’s been widened at both the front and rear. You see the ridge in the center of the spoiler lip? That’s because airflow over the cabin differs from airflow over the haunches. This new spoiler generates the same down force at 100 MPH as the old one did at 190 MPH. It is an indulgence to corner. Just avoid the potholes. The ride is informative, in the same way that being run over is informative. But really, who would drive a car like this without the ride on its firmest setting? The optional ceramic brakes stopped on a dime and would have no problem doing so all day. The ABS is unobtrusive. It’s almost not there. As a track car then, fantastic.
What’s more, I really do believe you could use an RS daily. That low nose has a lightweight lifter for speed bumps. It may not be as comforting as a standard GT3, but it makes no apologies for what it is. If you want padding on your seat, get another 911. There’s no shortage of choice.
The GT3 RS though, that’s for true car bores. It wouldn’t be a competitive cup car, but it would stomp most track day “enthusiasts.” It’s the closest thing to a racer as is possible on the street. It doesn’t have a PDK box because, as Preuninger says, “my grandmother could drive one.” I adore that attitude. It’s the hardcore version of the hardcore version. This car isn’t meant to be easy to drive. But, subsequently, that makes it all the more rewarding to master. The RS, then: a lion worth your leg.
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