“We love the Nürburgring, and the Nürburgring loves us,” says Porsche GT product boss Oliver Berg.
What romantics — Weissach’s new 911 GT3 RS has just lapped the Nordschleife in 6 minutes and 56.4 seconds. Only two other road-going Porsches have gone sub-seven: the million-dirham 911 GT2 RS and the million-dollar 918 Spyder.
Now sixes at the ‘Ring are going for chump change — this GT3 RS, it gets you there for less than seven hundred grand, and nothing for the money balances drivability with this level of frenetic performance.
A sub-seven minute Nordschleife lap is a big deal, and down off Döttinger Höhe every manufacturer worth their carbon fibre has a shop set up for ‘Ring development.
Porsche has now taken the relationship to the next level. The first GT3 RS came out in 2003 and this will be the sixth one, but in that time the generation gap became a giant leap. The difference around the Nordschleife over a lap between that first car and the last model launched in 2015 was around 30 seconds, and this latest sixth-gen just went 24 seconds faster still.
Which is crazy, especially when you consider that a GT2 RS with some turbos along for the ride does the ‘Ring nine seconds faster — the GT2 RS recorded 6:47.3. So 180 additional horsepower only gets you half a second a kilometre taking into account the 20km Nordschleife lap distance.
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Unlike the fearsome GT2 RS the GT3 RS does it all with finesse and guile, and a normally aspirated 4.0-litre race engine that lives for the red line. There is no fear of the unknown as you sweatily anticipate the turbocharged blast. In here it’s all as nature intended, a flat-six breathing free, and spinning, and spinning, far beyond your intuition to shift. When you accept the 9,000rpm limiter, you never build tolerance, and it’s a hit that keeps on giving.
This 4.0-litre now makes 20 more horsepower than before, and to be specific, 130 horsepower per litre, a pretty much unprecedented figure in road cars. Sharing the wide body dimensions with the 911 Turbo, it gulps air in through the flanks and develops actual downforce with a wider new wing — 144kg at 200kph, some 75 kilograms more than the 911 GT3.
Like the GT2 RS, the GT3 RS also comes with motorsport derived steel ball joints and ultra-lightweight composite suspension components made by a bicycle manufacturer. You hold these pieces up in your hand like little plastic forks, thinking about the kerbs you just hit and bumps you just rode, wondering how it’s possible.
Then there’s the optional Weissach package including a lightweight roof, magnesium wheels, lightweight bonnet, and titanium roll cage. In optimum spec, compared to the old car the new GT3 RS is 30kg lighter. Pretty much everyone will tick the Weissach box, which as boxes go is an expensive one at Dh68,990.
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You can hardly mess up a GT3 RS however you spec it — either way you get Porsche’s most powerful naturally aspirated engine ever, mated to an optimised PDK that keeps the rev needle pointed up.
After four hours, see a doctor.
If only for the confusion — this car is just stupefyingly good at going fast, riding bumps with authority and refusing to let up for a second in its pursuit of lap times. So fast, the level of confidence instilled borders on recklessness. After a few minutes you start believing your last name has an umlaut in it.
The 4.0-litre flat-six is dry sumped, with stronger internals and plasma coated cylinders, and relentless — eight laps around the short, modern Nürburgring layout is only enough for a bout of separation anxiety.
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It’s possible that the engine might even be overshadowed by the 410mm composite brakes, six-piston callipers at the front and four-pistons at the rear. NACA ducts on the bonnet channel air to the brakes more efficiently, where the previous GT3 RS took air from the front intake increasing drag. With Michelin tyres on 20in and 21in wheels, the car can do understeer and oversteer through the same corner, all the while squiggling through and you can mess with it happily on the throttle or using the steering wheel. It takes in all kinds of input and translates it into absolute speed, and with these brakes under you there is a righteous feeling in here. You can arrive into every corner way too hot, always seeming to scrub just enough off with the brakes in the last moment before it’s time to power out. Never has the limit felt so absolving.
Normally you’d think it would be a bit challenging to strap into a GT3 RS and just pound on it around a race track, but with the GT3 RS and its mechanical assurances, it is a genuinely fulfilling car to drive and enjoy, all the more so since the engine alone is enough to cause tingling sensations. You can just sit there in neutral revving a GT3 RS, and nearly get your money’s worth. Select a gear, and well you’ve got a bargain.
Considering only five road cars have gone under seven minutes around the ‘Ring, and three of them are Porsches, and this one isn’t a million dollars, it seems like pretty amazing value to us.