PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS

The Nur­bur­gring-con­quer­ing 911 GT3 RS is a road-le­gal track Porsche that deserves to be on ev­ery petrol­head’s bucket list.

Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

THE 911 GT3 RS MAY BE A BEAST, BUT PORSCHE HAS TRAINED IT WELL.

THERE, in the email in­vite to the press drive of Porsche’s lat­est 991.2 GT3 RS, was the thrilling prom­ise – “test drive at the Nur­bur­gring”.

Driv­ing the leg­endary, fear­some 20.8km-long North­ern Loop (Nord­schleife) of the Nur­bur­gring race­track in Germany is on ev­ery petrol­head’s bucket list. And to do it in the new GT3 RS, no less – I thought Christ­mas had come early.

But a few days be­fore my trip, the sheep­ish clar­i­fi­ca­tion came – I would not be sam­pling the GT3 RS on the fa­bled Nord­schleife, but on the newer, shorter and more sani­tised Nur­bur­gring Grand Prix track next door.

Vis­it­ing the Nur­bur­gring and not driv­ing the Nord­schleife is like go­ing to Morton’s and just or­der­ing the salad, or trav­el­ling to the Mal­dives and spend­ing your whole stay in­doors watch­ing TV. Sud­denly I was a lot less thrilled about the trip.

But then again, Porsche prob­a­bly knew that let­ting a bunch of over-ea­ger journos loose in this dev­as­tat­ingly fast car to ac­quaint them­selves with such a daunt­ing track was not a great idea. For the GT3 RS, lest we for­get, is ef­fec­tively a road-le­gal track car, an even more ex­treme de­vice than the al­ready hard­core 911 GT3. Just how many road cars come with a roll cage, as the GT3 RS does?

Nat­u­rally, Porsche has upped the ante with the lat­est ver­sion. Mounted in the rear is a hot­ter ver­sion of the all-new 4-litre flat-6 engine which de­buted last

year in the cur­rent GT3, which revs even higher than be­fore (to 9000rpm, while the engine in the previous 991.1 GT3 RS stopped play at 8800rpm).

The engine’s hard­ware is iden­ti­cal to that of the GT3, but a remap­ping has lib­er­ated an­other 20hp, so that it now de­liv­ers 520hp – coin­ci­den­tally also 20hp up on the 991.1 GT3 RS.

All that urge is chan­nelled ex­clu­sively to the rear wheels, as be­fore, via a 7-speed PDK du­al­clutch gear­box. Thus pow­ered, the car ex­plodes to 100km/h in 3.2 sec­onds (beat­ing the 991.1 GT3 RS by 0.1 sec­ond) on the way to its 312km/h top speed. Porsche has tweaked and fet­tled al­most ev­ery as­pect of the GT3 RS to keep that ram­pant urge un­der con­trol.

The more vis­i­ble changes are a taller rear wing (which is now ad­justable) and more pro­tu­ber­ant slats over the front fender air­vents (both bor­rowed whole­sale from the even more ex­treme, tur­bocharged 700hp 911 GT2 RS), a pair of small “NACA” air in­takes punc­tu­at­ing the front bon­net to chan­nel cool­ing air to the front brakes, a more prom­i­nent front spoiler lip and wider side skirts.

To­gether with im­proved un­der­body aero­dy­nam­ics and a res­culpted rear dif­fuser, they help the new car gen­er­ate 144kg of to­tal down­force at 200km/h, over dou­ble that of the GT3 and 40% more than the old GT3 RS achieved. At 300km/h, the down­force fig­ure rises to an im­mense (and race­car-like) 416kg.

Un­der the skin there are stiffer springs (twice as firm as be­fore in front and 50% harder at the rear), solid-mounted front and rear sub­frames, and ball-jointed sus­pen­sion arms and links for

more ac­cu­rate sus­pen­sion con­trol and sharper re­sponses.

The tyres are newly de­vel­oped Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport Cup 2s with a be­spoke com­pound spe­cific to this car. In fact, they com­prise two com­pounds – one with softer elas­tomers on the out­side of the tread for max­i­mum grip, and a com­pound with harder elas­tomers on the in­side of the tread for sharper steer­ing re­sponse and bet­ter road­hold­ing in the wet.

I sam­pled the car ex­clu­sively on track, so there was no chance to as­sess the ef­fect that the stiffer springs have had on ride com­fort, but given Porsche’s track record at com­bin­ing bril­liant, roll-free han­dling with a firm but well­con­trolled ride, I would ex­pect the GT3 RS to ride very firmly, but with­out laps­ing into harsh­ness.

As be­fore (and like the GT3), the GT3 RS also has rear-wheel­steer­ing for ex­tra agility in tighter turns and added sta­bil­ity through the faster ones. The dampers have their fa­mil­iar Nor­mal and Sport modes depend­ing on how bal­lis­ti­cally you want to be driv­ing, and the car also fea­tures Porsche Torque Vec­tor­ing Plus (PTV Plus) with an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled rear dif­fer­en­tial lock to max­imise trac­tion and rear-end sta­bil­ity un­der lat­eral ac­cel­er­a­tion.

On the day of our drive, the cir­cuit was slick in parts thanks to an on-off driz­zle, making me al­most thankful to be on the tamer Grand Prix track in­stead of the Nord­schleife.

The car barely seemed to no­tice the weather though, howl­ing thrillingly to its 9000rpm red­line time and again with­out a hint of wheel­spin, the PDK gear­box punch­ing in each suc­ces­sive gear the in­stant the pad­dle shifter was tugged, de­liv­er­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion so epic that the straights were de­voured in a mat­ter of sec­onds. And as each on­rush­ing corner loomed, a shove on the re­as­sur­ingly firm brake pedal had the huge (op­tional) ce­ramic-com­pos­ite brakes wip­ing off all that speed

THIS PORSCHE IS AN EVEN MORE EX­TREME DE­VICE THAN THE AL­READY HARD­CORE 911 GT3 AND COMES WITH A ROLL CAGE.

as surely as if a giant parachute had just been de­ployed.

The ben­e­fit of the GT3 RS’s im­pres­sive down­force num­bers was ev­i­dent in the track’s full­com­mit­ment, high-speed bends where the GT3 RS re­mained ut­terly planted, even with the throt­tle pedal pinned to the floor.

And it then flaunted its agility by danc­ing through the cir­cuit’s fast left-right chi­cane at three­fig­ure speeds with­out the tail ever step­ping out of line, and fling­ing it­self ra­bidly into the tighter turns, with­out a hint of un­der­steer. All this on a track which was still damp in places. The steer­ing was im­mensely com­mu­nica­tive, faith­fully tele­graph­ing the state of the tyres’ pur­chase and never leav­ing me guess­ing if the front end was go­ing to grip or slither wide. And even on the few ex­ploratory ven­tures I made be­yond the mas­sively high lim­its of ad­he­sion, the car re­mained be­nign, ei­ther four-wheel-drift­ing gen­tly wide, or edg­ing its tail out pro­gres­sively un­der power. The 911 GT3 RS may be a beast, but Porsche has trained it well.

Af­ter just a cou­ple of laps, my ini­tial trep­i­da­tion at tack­ling the track in this wild-look­ing an­i­mal had melted away, re­placed by huge trust in the car’s abil­ity and a sense of be­wil­dered won­der at the ex­tent of Porsche’s achieve­ment.

To put that achieve­ment into per­spec­tive, just a week be­fore my drive, Porsche’s own rac­ing ace Kevin Estre had hurled the new sports car around the Nord­schleife in a physics-de­fy­ing 6 min­utes and 56.4 sec­onds – the third-quick­est time ever set by a pro­duc­tion car at the track and just 9 sec­onds be­hind the record, held by Porsche’s own 911 GT2 RS which boasts 180hp more. And to add fur­ther con­text, it also bet­tered the lap time of the 991.1 GT3 RS by a scarcely be­liev­able 24 sec­onds.

So I may not have driven the Nord­schleife, but so epic is the new 911 GT3 RS that driv­ing it deserves to be a buck­etlist item in its own right.

SO EPIC IS THE NEW 911 GT3 RS THAT DRIV­ING IT DESERVES TO BE A BUCKET-LIST ITEM.

STORY EDRIC PAN LO­CA­TION NURBURG, GERMANY

This sports car is no green­horn when it comes to keep­ing ram­pant per­for­mance un­der con­trol and com­mu­ni­cat­ing clearly with a quick driver.

The 911 GT3 RS dances through chi­canes, flings it­self into tight turns and re­mains planted in high-speed cor­ners.

The flat-6 engine howls to its 9000rpm red­line and the gear­box in­stantly punches in each gear as the rear-drive pow­er­train de­liv­ers awe­some ac­cel­er­a­tion.

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