When stationary, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS exudes an undeniable sense of ferocity. Dismissing the oft-repeated comparison of its rear wing to a picnic table is hardly applicable unless you’re as towering as Shaq, given its elevated position above the ground.
Don’t be too quick to categorize this quarter-million-dollar gem as just another 911 variant in a sea of options. Not a single body panel is shared with the standard Carrera, thanks to the carbon-fiber door skins that necessitate conventional door handles instead of the typical pop-up flaps on a regular 911. It’s every bit as untamed on the road as the mid-engine Porsche GT1 from the 1990s, a car purpose-built to conquer Le Mans.
Southeast Michigan, despite having namesakes like Milan and London in its vicinity, boasts a road network far from the legendary Sarthe. Anticipating a punishing on-road experience from the prominently winged RS, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the GT3 RS ride feels no harsher than that of a regular GT3 despite having spring rates that are around 50 percent stiffer. This unexpected comfort might be attributed in part to the softer carbon-fiber anti-roll bars, where additional roll resistance is unnecessary with such a firmly sprung suspension.
On the racetrack, there’s no indication of anything being soft about this machine. Whether you meticulously adjust all the chassis settings (as detailed in the “Play Station” section) or leave them untouched, the GT3 RS demonstrates approachable limits.
The howl of the 518-horsepower, 9,000-rpm flat-six (although some claim it revs to only 8,900) pierces through the carbon-fiber layers of an Arai helmet, yet the engine is akin to a playful puppy, eager to unleash its energy—torque peaks at 6,300 rpm, a relatively modest 342 pound-feet.
Place your trust in the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and floor the throttle. Even if you’re not setting any speed records, it feels undeniably fast. Push it too hard, and understeer serves as a humbling reminder that you might not be as skilled as you thought, but don’t blame the differential lock position.
Sure, there are myriad settings to tinker with, and it’s easy to get lost in a world of calibration engineering, fine-tuning suspension, differential, aero, stability, and traction control combinations. The beauty of it all is that, according to Porsche GT head honcho Andreas Preuninger, you can’t really set the car up incorrectly as an end user.
A touch more rebound damping at the rear axle might enhance the RS’s stability when bounding over curbs. Depending on the track and your driving style, you might prefer less compression, especially when dealing with concrete serrations. The key takeaway here is that these settings grant the driver unprecedented control over the GT3 RS’s feel, a level of customization unlike any other car.
The GT3 RS is 30 pounds lighter than its GT3 counterpart, with similar specifications. However, at 124 mph, it gains a substantial 900 pounds of downforce, a figure that most drivers will appreciate.
At top speed, which reaches 177 mph in high-downforce mode (with the low-downforce DRS mode allowing for 183 mph), the GT3 RS’s tires bear nearly 1,900 pounds more load compared to when it’s at a standstill. The aerodynamic grip is undeniably significant, and it’s amusing to note that toggling the DRS on and off at triple-digit speeds brings an audible change in the engine note as the load fluctuates.
The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Rs, 275s up front (tucked under broader fenders) and 335s at the rear, deliver a staggering 1.16 g of lateral grip on the skidpad and excel at bringing the car to a halt from 70 mph in just 133 feet. Between corners, the RS is just as swift as a standard GT3 in a straight line, clocking an identical quarter-mile time of 10.9 seconds.
This GT3 RS, possibly the last of its kind before the advent of electrification, combines the astonishing capabilities of a McLaren Senna with the civility of a Chevy Corvette. It’s a revelation, but one that makes sense when you consider that Porsche has been perfecting this formula for six decades. We eagerly await its track performance assessment at Lightning Lap later this year.