Generally, the Porsche 911 is discreet looking as performance cars go; it doesn’t try to suck eyeballs out of passersby with feats of styling excess. So, when a 911 like the GT3 RS rolls by, complete with park-bench sized spoiler, giant air openings, front fenders with half their skin peeled away to facilitate an anti-lift duct, and steam-roller sized rear wheels, you know you’re looking at something very, very serious.
All of that stuff is functional, and necessary, in the creation of the Big One. The Top Dog. The fastest 911 available where lap times are concerned. Remember: Porsche doesn’t decorate needlessly, and though the extreme-looking tester attracted swarming crowds like a bug-zapper in skeeter season, it’s as discreet as it could have possibly looked.
From the driver’s seat, numerous racecar clues are always apparent: a sliver of exposed carbon fibre visible from the unpainted underside of the hood, ahead of the windshield cowl; a yellow centering stripe at 12 o’clock on the suede steering wheel; a flash of red, down to your right -- that’s the fire extinguisher, bolted to the front of the passenger seat.
You notice all of this after finding your place in a one-piece racing seat, complete with a carbon fiber shell, after balancing on the door sills to avoid unpleasant bolster-versus-buttocks battles. Usually, folks getting into a seat like this are wearing a fire-suit.
Make no mistake: The Porsche GT3 RS is a racecar that’s not intended for play on the road, though it is street legal, which makes it awesome.
Once you get used to the rigid seats, they’re not totally uncomfortable, providing you’re reasonably limber. The optional 90-litre endurance-racing fuel tank provides plenty of cruising range on the highway, where the ride isn’t uncomfortable or excessively noisy. The tester even got air conditioning, a stereo, and a very powerful headlight system up front.
Out back, a 4.0L, all-motor flat-six spins up 500 license-threatening horsepower that explode to life in the upper end of the tachometer through 7 tall gears just a paddle-shifted blink away from each other.
The noise: An incredibly rich and resonant transition from a deep intake howl to a furious wail, and beyond about 7,800 rpm, a distinctive zing that sounds, quite literally, like an Indy car. Windows down, and the hip-mounted intakes blast said sound with ear-piercing intensity into your brain. Be warned, though: with redline set at the better part of 9,000 rpm, you’ll need the self-control of a Buddhist monk to keep from getting arrested. The Porsche GT3 RS is twisted fast.
Typical Porsche driving dynamics are on offer. Driven with respectful intent, this road-going missile doesn’t frighten, overpower or overwhelm. The engine noise towards redline is daunting, and though it’s over the top, haywire and excessive in any measure of speed or grip, it’s all delivered in a way that doesn’t frighten, and with a feel that inspires confidence, and even flatters.
There’s more grip than torque, so despite the rear-wheel drive layout the GT3 RS isn’t constantly threatening a skid (unless you’d like it to). Further, it’s always talking to you: little squirms and squiggles and shifts from beneath the car aren’t felt in other 911 models, and they help you feel how much grip you’re using, and how much harder you could push.
Steering is laser precise, with only a slight tensing of the muscles in a single hand required to set the GT3 RS through its corner with mischievous ease. The feel and weight of the steering communicates the traction situation, the weight of the car, and whether much of that weight is currently sitting on the front wheels or not. Feedback and feel here is off the charts.
Get carried away, and the squeaky track pads bite into drilled brake rotors the size of trash-can lids to scrub the excessive velocity in a blink. Pedal feel is a bit vague until the brakes get some heat built up -- like most other parts of the GT3 RS, these work best when pushed hard.
A GT3 RS in civilian traffic is like Michael Phelps wandering through a wading-pool of obese tourists: an all-star athlete out of its element. This is a track car, first and foremost. The front bumper could bottom out on a paint-stripe. The ultra-exotic tires are thin, and there’s no spare, so a pothole-related blowout will require towing. And, since any and every compromise between comfort and performance errs on the side of racecar, there’s that care and stress required for a drive, as well as some racecar things you need to accept when driving your GT3 RS around in public.
Whoops and clanks from the rear-mounted driveline in slow traffic, waltzing into the RS’s cabin like they own the place since, there’s no sound deadening. The pinging and ticking of rocks, flung into the wheelwells by the tires, which are of similar consistency to warmed chewing-gum. The loud CHOOP from the throttle-body opening and closing, auto-blipping the throttle and rev-matching for gear changes in lazy traffic. This Porsche GT3 RS specific PDK transmission operates with a charming clumsiness in very light-throttle, low-speed situations, where the car feels like a big dog whose leash is being held too tightly.
Other noises mostly include f-bombs, hurled the GT3 RS’ way by children, grown-ups, and even a nearby police officer who advised me that the tester was a “fancy sweet car.” (FYI: He didn’t say “fancy” …). So, prepare for swearing: There’s no shame to be had when a GT3 RS gets beside an unsuspecting enthusiast on the road.
Ultimately, the GT3 RS is too much, too fast, too loud, and too attention-grabbing. All of that is, of course, going to sell this car, fast -- provided you’ve got a good hookup at a Porsche dealer, and the funds in-hand.
Owning one will relieve owners of no less than $200,000, with options bumping the tester’s price to $224,000, including a (mandatory) push-button front end lift system to clear driveway curbs and speed bumps.
A lot of cash, but a bit of a deal: that price won’t even open the door on an entry-level Ferrari or Lamborghini. So, to the right shopper it’s a bit of a deal on a personal racecar that can be driven around town -- if you’re careful, and if you’re not easily offended by bad language.