997 GT3 RS 4.0

Ul­tra 911 weighs the same as a VW Golf, but can storm to 310km/h

Motor (Australia) - - FEATURE : TOP FIVE 911S -

WITH A BIG­GER at­mo­spheric in­duc­tion flat-six in a body pared of un­nec­es­sary lux­u­ries, the par­al­lels be­tween the 2011 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 and 1973 Car­rera RS are un­mis­tak­able. As sig­nif­i­cant vari­ants of Stuttgart’s ever­green sports coupe go, Porsche’s fi­nal 997 had it all.

The GT3, al­though less pow­er­ful than the Turbo and GT2, was the most fo­cused of 911s and the RS took that up a notch, while tip­ping its hat to the defini­tive early 911. The fi­nal 997 was the last 911 with hy­draulic steer­ing and a hand­brake and history shows that each time Porsche re­moves tech­nol­ogy – like air-cooled cylin­ders – col­lec­tor in­ter­est spikes.

Per­haps most im­por­tantly, though, the RS 4.0 might be the

911 to drive (the ’73 RS be­ing the one to own) bal­anc­ing the name­plate’s old-world val­ues with mod­ern era drive­abil­ity. The day-to-day sports coupe had never been so quick or, if you pre­fer, a sub-7min 30sec Nur­bur­gring ma­chine has never worn num­ber plates with such non­cha­lance.

Porsche had to re­vive an en­gine line when the GT3 RS 4.0 was given the green light. En­gi­neers slot­ted a GT3 R/RSR crank into the 3.8-litre block in­creas­ing stroke from 76.4 to 80.4mm which, with a 102.7mm bore, took ca­pac­ity to 3996cc and cre­ated the largest 911 en­gine to date.

Be­yond the ca­pac­ity in­crease, de­vel­op­ment fo­cused on im­prov­ing air­flow with a mod­i­fied in­take man­i­fold fea­tur­ing shorter run­ners, a vari­able in­duc­tion sys­tem and vari­able valve timing, higher flow air fil­ters in a car­bon air­box, and a freer ex­haust sys­tem with less re­stric­tive cat­alytic con­vert­ers.

The stroked six set a new high mark for nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 911 out­puts. The RS 4.0’s 368kW (at a dizzy 8250rpm) and 460Nm at 5750rpm (which told lit­tle of its low-end shove) made it the ul­ti­mate de­vel­op­ment of the orig­i­nal 911 block (now in wa­ter-cooled form). Seven years on, the 911 GT3 RS eclipses the 4.0’s spe­cific power of 92kW per litre by only 4kW.

Light weight is that other RS fun­da­men­tal, yet fur­ther kilo­gram re­duc­tions were not eas­ily achieved on the RS 4.0 given the amount of prun­ing that had al­ready been done on the GT3. Re­cip­ro­cat­ing mass was a log­i­cal start­ing point, and a sin­gle-mass fly­wheel and ti­ta­nium con­nect­ing rods bolted to forged pis­tons light­ened the load.

Shed­ding steel pan­els was next and Porsche re­placed the front guards and front cargo com­part­ment cover with car­bon fi­bre ver­sions, and ditched the glass rear quar­ter win­dows and rear wind­screen for poly­car­bon­ate. One-piece seats weigh­ing 8kg each and light­weight car­pets saved more weight, which was some­what off­set by the mass of a half roll cage, al­though it in­creased the mono­coque’s rigid­ity.

Af­ter all that the GT3 RS 4.0 had dropped just 10kg, how­ever, its kerb weight of 1360kg – about the same as a Volk­swa­gen Golf – gave it a power-to-weight ra­tio of 271kW/tonne.

Aero­dy­namic en­hance­ments to the sub­tle 993-in­spired 997 shape in­cluded front dive planes, or ‘flics’, to re­duce lift and a large rear wing that kept the rear end planted. Down­force was a claimed 190kg at a v-max of 310km/h.

Sus­pen­sion fea­tures unique spring and damper rates, spe­cific toe and cam­ber set­tings, and rose-jointed rear sus­pen­sion links bor­rowed from the GT2 RS. Dy­namic en­gine mounts con­trolled the mass of the flat-six. An op­tional pneu­matic nose-lift did not im­prove track per­for­mance, but al­lowed the low snout to safely ne­go­ti­ate speed bumps on the street.

Porsche of­fered just two stark colours – black and Car­rara white – but it was pos­si­ble to or­der an RS 4.0 in any solid or metal­lic paint-to-sam­ple shade you chose.

When it was launched, road testers rev­elled in the way the evo­lu­tion from RS to RS 4.0 built on the qual­i­ties of the donor to make the 997 fi­nale in­cre­men­tally bet­ter by ev­ery mea­sure. The at­trac­tion of in­creased dis­place­ment as a means to greater per­for­mance is that drive­abil­ity ben­e­fits as much as out­right ac­cel­er­a­tion, and the GT3 RS 4.0 was even more docile and flex­i­ble than lesser ver­sions.

The ad­van­tages of a light body were ev­i­dent ev­ery­where too com­pared with a reg­u­lar GT3, from sharper turn­ing to more ag­ile han­dling and more ea­ger ac­cel­er­a­tion, and the sus­pen­sion struck that un­mis­tak­able Porsche com­pro­mise of con­trolled-yet-com­pli­ant ride and han­dling.

Quick, yet un­break­ably re­li­able, as sat­is­fy­ing to drive hard as it was to own and live with ev­ery day, the GT3 RS 4.0 de­liv­ered the essence of the 911 in highly con­cen­trated form.

ABOVE GT3 RS 4.0’s stroked 3.8-litre six made 368kW, and was the most pow­er­ful atmo 911 to date OP­PO­SITE RS 4.0 was right at home on the track, with an aero kit that re­duced lift and in­creased down­force

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