The nomenclature ‘GT3 RS’ is like few others – the mix of a number and four letters holds power and reputation like no other in the game. From generation to generation, every 911 iteration to be adorned with GT3 RS lightweight stickers has appreciated in value and has enthusiasts and collectors paying ludicrous premiums to have their names down as the first owner of the latest and greatest 3RS.
Could the GT3 RS be as good as every pundit claimed?
From Supreme branded bricks and Wiz Khalifa socks, through countless iterations of Kanye’s Yeezys – without the buzz, intrigue and influence of huge demand and choked supply, these products and entire brands would cease to exist. Does the same apply to cars? Of course, it does, and there’s one brand that does hype better than most. Porsche.
So, what’s the difference between this multibillion-euro auto maker and Supreme that can stamp its name on a crowbar with a ‘hypebeast’ fed resale price of $300? Simple – scrub the branding off the crowbar and it is…just a crowbar. Peel the sticker off the Porsche’s nose and it is still likely to be the greatest sports car of its era.
You can tell, first impressions are strong. Time to go for a drive and put those deserted bank holiday back roads to use. Would the hype set the bar too high? Could the GT3 RS be as good as every pundit claimed?
I am in second gear, the PDK gearbox is in Sport, exhaust button open – there are no modes to change other than these. I am on a road I know better than my ex-girlfriend and it is open, deserted, for as far as my eyes can see. Floor it. The pull is instant, I’ve driven turbocharged cars for the past years and said that the lag is nonexistent, I’ve been lying. There is nothing like this. 3,000rpm and it is pulling so hard I’m tightening my vice like grip, 4,000 and it is starting to get loud.
5,000 then 5,500 and I am preparing to pull the paddle before I look down and notice there are 3,500 to go. 6,000 and I can feel a hallow howl building. 7,000 – my oh my, it is deafening, there is a harsh resonance that has filled the cabin, it is in my chest. The rest of the rev range is something that needs to be experienced to be understood.
It is a struggle to articulate, it builds and builds and the shriek from 8,000 onwards is godly. It is such an event that you crave it and if you know the road and are starting to understand the behavior of the car, you’ll chase it time and again. You pull for another gear and just hold on as the ratios get longer and the car stays in the upper echelons of rev range, singing, for longer. By this point you’re in third or fourth gear nearing the stratospheric red line and the speeds are just silly, far beyond anything legal. Then you come to a corner.
When you look at a car like the GT3 RS you imagine that such a thing with, literally, zero arch gap all around, vents in the wheel arches and that caricature wing, you think it is made for corners. It is. The way the car grips with warm Michelin Cup 2s and enough speed to have the air flowing over the aero devices is mesmerizing. Electric steering was a weak point of the 991.1 911, it came good on the 991.2, it became sharp and near telepathic on the GT3 and GT3 RS.
There is a pleasant weighting and enough feedback to know where the grip will end. Filthy clichés like ‘poetry in motion’ come to mind, refocus and you remember that the engine is in the rear and the way the weight transfers has a delicious satisfaction. The rear wheel steer makes itself known, there is a fluid, trusting feel to how the rear end follows – I am not sure if you noticed, I’m hooked.
The bank holiday blast was all good and well, it is where the GT3 RS is made to be at its best – what would happen when I swapped the country roads for the congested city? I have done this journey in an eclectic mix of cars ranging from Morgan 3 Wheelers, to Rolls-Royce Phantoms to a few Porsches like the Carrera T and 991.2 GTS. It is fair to say the GT3 RS is not at home completing such a journey. It sounds like it is broken a lot of the time. The gearbox whines and the clutch sounds upset. Remember that non-existent arch gap? Yeah, I couldn’t forget it, the ride is stiff to put it mildly. Small potholes feel like craters the size of paddling pools and the car rolls in drive, reverse and even park.
I’m making these sound like negatives but they are not. Maybe it is my bizarre fetish for feel and a sense of connection, but I love all of it – the sound of stones playing pinball in the arches, the cage obstructing over shoulder visibility, the rear screen demister button that lights up but does nothing (thinner glass means no heating elements in the glass) – these are idiosyncrasies that remind you that this is something uncommon that should be treasured. The looks and camera phones do too. Turns out it turns as many heads and starts as many conversations as any Ferrari or Lamborghini.
Three days of commuting was a pleasure, the BOSE speakers burble deep bass and the 918 style bucket seats only gave me a slight backache – worth it for the magnificent hold they provide. The weekend came and it was time to chuck a very different challenge at the 991.2 GT3 RS. A 1,000+ kilometre road trip across Europe. 02:47, my giant banana and I (euphemism galore) hit the road – literally.
The M25 is a giant ring road that surrounds London and the road surface is sub-par to say the least. On 90 minutes sleep I feared I would fall asleep at the wheel, the rock-hard ride and the horrendous surface came together as one to smack me in the head every four seconds or so, tedious but useful.
A quick snooze under the English Channel after coffee and chocolate off the dining-table-of-a-wing and it was into France, then Belgium and a motorway surface Sebastian Ogier would be better accustomed to in his WRC car. The RS was starting to take a toll on me after 6 hours behind the wheel. Fortunately, the first stop – Best, Holland, was not all too far away. Another Starbucks and 4-minute power nap got me to my Dutch friends for yet more coffee, banana antics, laughs and fuel stops. The boys – Willem, Jesper and Thom worked their magic producing the magnificent images you see in the next gallery.
My stop for the night was Frankfurt, a few hours from The Netherlands – I hoped to whittle this down on the German Autobahn but the weather had other ideas, flooding the road and making me crap myself being the wheel piloting a €200,000 GT3 RS sitting on Cup 2s – recipe for disaster. Slow and steady I trundled into Frankfurt. 1,008kms and 13hrs41 later, I turned in for the night.
Fortunately, things were drier and warmer the next morning – destination Zuffenhausen, Stuttgart – the home of Porsche. Between the end point and I were kilometers of autobahn, infamous for being derestricted and quite on Sunday mornings. 100 octane in the tank, it was time to experience the full force of the 513bhp produced by the flat 6. The stated top speed of the GT3 RS is 312km/h. Much to my surprise, I saw 321 courtesy of optimistic readings and a tail wind.
The speed is less than half the story – it is how it got there that matters and once again, it is the haunting sound that dominated. Above 250 you can enjoy the possessing blare of the engine, relishing it for longer as the engine fights the ever-thickening air and the cars own wings and aero devices that hinder straight line speed in favor of that marvelous cornering goodness I previously described.
Traffic pulling into the fast lane when you’re doing 300km/h is when you start to appreciate the strength of the dinner plate sized PCCB ceramic brakes. The way the car slows like a parachute has been thrown out back, then hauls back to 300km/h is astonishing, as is the rate in which fuel is burnt doing so. A fuel stop (or two) later I peeled off the Autobahn, the 3RS made up with hundreds of bug splats.
Driving into Zuffenhausen and pulling up outside the Porsche Museum in any Porsche is a special occasion – doing so in a Stuttgart registered Racing Yellow GT3 RS is possibly the most Rockstar thing you could possibly pull off without being a real celebrity – although the feeling is very similar. People stop, stare, take photos and throw gestures of appreciation.
Parking up I felt a sense of achievement, but more a feeling of awe. This is not just a car; this is a car that makes every journey an occasion. It is not like any of its turbocharged competitors, it is not as savage as its track focused competitors, it is a machine you bond with, a car that instills confidence and feels like it is on your side. You feel like you can reach the limits and that when you do it will not spit you into the nearest field of sheep.
The 991.2 911 GT3 RS is so unique, desirable and monumental that it warrants the waiting lists, premiums and reputation that it has earned. As with its predecessors, the 911.2 GT3 RS will go down in history as being the pinnacle of drivers’ cars. It is the most transcending car I have ever had the privilege of driving.