You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS First Drive Review

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 6/9/2015 Randy Pobst

I'm at a Frankfurt rental car counter, and the nice fräulein says I can choose my vehicle, so long as it's a Volkswagen — a reminder that Germany's largest automaker owns Porsche. The two have shared roots, all the way back to the People's Car. (And you must know that's the only reason the engine in the otherwise highly advanced 911 GT3 RS is in the rear: tradition. Well, that and the market demanded it.) The only VW available is a Sharan TDI van with nav, and it's directing me over a scenic shortcut to Finnentrop, where I'm dropping in on my old friends, the Eibach family, at Eibach Springs. After a direction change along the way, the female voice says, "Continue on this road for a long time." I chuckle every time I hear that. A long time? How far is that? Whatever happened to German precision?

At Porsche, RS stands for Racing Sport, and believe me, precision is alive and well. Porsche's stated mission for these models is to put trailer companies out of business. Yes, to be capable of street driving to the track, winning the race, and driving comfortably home. But to the seat of my driving suit, the GT3 is almost perfect already. Can this RS special improve on near perfection?

Two hours north of Frankfurt, I had the fabulous opportunity to take an hour of wonderful German back roads in this newest 911 to Bilster Berg, a private circuit filled with ground-bound aerobatics. These drives highlighted my favorite characteristic: the near-miraculous combination of extreme track control and reasonable street comfort delivered by PASM, the Porsche Active Suspension Management system of electronically controlled dampers.

2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS I was struck by the statement that the GT3 RS is built "by enthusiasts for enthusiasts," and I see it in the specs and feel it on the winding whoops of Bilster Berg. Darned near every single part of the GT3 has been further hard-cored for lower lap times. A few of my favorites:

Width = Lateral g's. The RS has the wider Turbo body and track width and the broadest 911 standard tires: 265 front, 325 rear, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 track rubber.

Less weight = More speed. A magnesium roof, saving a whole kilogram at the highest point of the car. Carbon-polymer fenders, hood, decklid, and rear apron. Lithium-ion battery alternative, shaving 30 pounds. Compact steering wheel and carbon seats from the 918 and much more. Or should I say less?

Aero = Grippy, slippery, and HP. Hard-core vents in the front fenders relieve wheelwell pressure, aiding a 30 percent increase in front downforce (see: race car). The most aggressive wing I've ever seen on a factory Porsche is mounted high for effectiveness, carried on low-drag supports, adjustable, and in perfect harmony with classic 911 racing profile. Ram air openings on the leading edges of the rear fenders, normally for the intercoolers on the Turbo, actually pressurize the air intakes and add 10 horses at speed. In fact, every change is about function. OK, the RS graphics look fast.

2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS There are so many exhilarating details that I felt my pulse rise just listening to the interpreter at the presentation. Extraordinary 500-horsepower, 4.0-liter flat-six shared with the current GT3 R race car, up from 3.8 liters in the standard GT3. It's direct-injected for highest efficiency and uses a titanium muffler and rods and a latest-tech multiple-remelt, tempered steel crankshaft like in the 918 and Formula 1. Its 4mm longer stroke requires a 200-rpm redline drop from the GT3's 9,000 nirvana but rewards with 25 extra horsepower and a fatter torque curve. This powerplant is a complete success, responding with a sound and linear immediacy that no boosted mill can.

2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS First Drive Review

Then there's the controversial, first-for-RS PDK auto gearbox, justified in one word: faster. Far easier and darned near perfect in operation, but maybe it's too easy. There's no question it is less involving than our beloved traditional stick shift and clutch pedal, but it is also far less likely to cause the catastrophic damage or instant spins and crashes possible with missed shifts. And honestly, people, this is the way of modern race machines, which more and more have paddles. Technology is marching on. You wanna shift yourself, old-school? See you on the vintage circuit. You old-timers can still shift the RS manually to relive your youth. I played with the paddles on the first lap while everything was still warming up to keep the revs down and to stay more in touch with the machine, enhance the experience, and relive my youth.

2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS It's interesting that Porsche has included a paddle-neutral feature. Pull both back, and disengage the engine. It's perfect for hooligan clutch-drop drifting and burnouts; I'm amused that this playful feature exists.

Electromechanical rear-wheel steering is carried over from the GT3 for low-speed rotation and higher-speed stability. Below 30 mph they steer out, and above 50 they steer in. Virtually seamless in the GT3, this may be overkill in the aero-effective RS. It exhibits an obvious change in character from a bit of oversteer down low to a bit of understeer in faster corners. The race-only 911 Cup Car does not have this feature. However, the in-phase rear steer is very effective in transitions such as lane changes and chicanes and great for slaloms. The RS will rock the bus stop at Watkins Glen and Turn 15 at Sebring. To its credit and my pleasant surprise, Porsche offers adjustments for tuning handling to individual taste, also like a race car, including anti-roll bars with several choices to vary roll resistance and that rear wing angle.

On track, the RS is actually more Cup Car than GT3. The downforce plants the car as speeds increase. Reflexes are sharper, responses more angry. More like a weapon. The GT3 RS is an evolution to an overall higher performance plane. The diligent, comprehensive enhancement is impressive. Details. No stone left unturned. That's where the value lies in the RS's $176,895 starting price ($45,500 dearer than a standard GT3). And oh so exclusive. To a racer like me, it does the GT3 one better. And I'll drive it 500 miles home, too. 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Motor Trend

Loading...

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon