REVIEW | The 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 RS is naturally-aspirated perfection

Thomas Falkiner gets a white-knuckle ride with the most dynamic 911 yet – the 991.2 GT3 RS

20 November 2018 - 16:41 By Thomas Falkiner
The Porsche 911 GT3 RS licked in Lizard Green paint
The Porsche 911 GT3 RS licked in Lizard Green paint
Image: Thomas Falkiner

Damn, Falkiner, this looks more like a racecar than a road car – is it legal?

Barely. Although the new 911 GT3 RS wears number plates it is essentially a racing car – with airbags and Bluetooth – that you can drive from your house to the track.

Everything about it screams motorsport. From those new NACA duct nostrils punched through the bonnet and louvered front wheel arches (to prevent lift from furiously spinning tyres) right down to that adjustable rear wing, the RS is closer to the 911 models you see tearing around the Circuit de la Sarthe than the common garden Carrera variants rolling through golf estates.

Even more so when equipped with the optional Weissach package that helps shed an extra 18-kilograms from a car already on good terms with gravity. The roof morphs from magnesium to carbon fibre (as do the anti-roll bars) and the rollcage from steel to titanium. Slap on some sponsor decals and the RS will have no problem sneaking into the pit lane at the next big Kyalami race weekend.

The interior has a racecar-like focus
The interior has a racecar-like focus
Image: Porsche

Is the interior as extreme as the exterior?

Absolutely. Buckling into the GT3 RS is probably the closest you’ll ever get to feeling like a Porsche factory racing driver. As this 911 is capable of pulling such insane g-forces your frame (and your passenger’s for matter) is held in place by an ultra-supportive carbon fibre-shelled bucket seat. They’re firm and aggressive but absolutely brilliant at keeping your body in check – even through the tightest, fastest of corners.

Next up you’ll find a fire extinguisher lashed to the passenger footwell, a six-point Schroth racing harness (in addition to the standard seatbelt) plus a rollcage designed to keep you in one piece should things ever go horribly wrong. Look through the simple, small-diameter steering wheel and you’ll see a giant tachometer with scarlet paint that only starts at 9,000rpm. Yep, it’s the real deal.

To save even more weight the climate control can be deleted. A decent audio system comes standard but, honestly, it’s rendered pretty much useless by all that glorious mechanical cacophony and lack of sound-deadening material.

The 911 GT3 RS storming around the Nürburgring
The 911 GT3 RS storming around the Nürburgring

Talking about noise – what motor is entombed beneath that rear wing?

I thought you’d never ask! Okay so you basically get the same 4.0-litre flat-six screamer already doing duty inside the standard GT3. Except here, thanks to the presence of a new intake system and more efficient titanium exhaust, it pumps out an extra 15kW of power for quicker acceleration.

Smooth, urgent and seemingly unbreakable, this has to be one of the best engines mankind has ever pieced together – not to mention one of best sounding too. The way it wails, wraith-like, to 9,000rpm is awe-inspiring. It makes your hair prickle, blood bubble and extremities fizz. It is the automotive equivalent of Jimi Hendrix playing live at Monterey. And if you don’t catch yourself yelping with delight between gear changes, well, brother, then you ain’t got no soul.

Acoustics aside, this motor produces more than enough punch to power you along at speeds I don’t (thanks to one too many letters of Mother Grundy disgust) wish to divulge. Just know that this is an immensely rapid piece of kit. Gearbox wise you only have the option of Porsche’s seamless PDK transmission, which, if I’m being honest, is the best choice for a car of this caliber. Mucking about with a manual would not only make the car slower but also increase the margin for driver error.

Watch Porsche works driver Kevin Estre set a blistering lap time around the Nürburgring in the 2018 911 GT3 RS

How does it handle? Is it a better dance partner than the GT2 RS?

The GT2 RS I drove earlier this year was a fabulous whip. Now as it and the new GT3 RS are effectively the same cars fitted with different motors, I wasn’t expecting much difference in terms of dynamics. Wrong.

The GT3 feels way pointier and easy to place through corners. Wherever you turn that steering wheel it goes with a weighted confidence and immediacy that seems at odds with the car’s natural rear axle weight bias. In fact of all the modern 911 models I’ve ever piloted, I’d have to say that the new GT3 RS displays the most front-end bite. So much so that you could be forgiven for thinking it’s fitted with all-wheel-drive.

What with all that engine noise and lack of insulation the RS can feel a bit intimidating when you first climb in behind the wheel. However once your senses settle down you’ll find that it’s anything but. Well, as long as you know what you’re doing that is. It’s no Audi TT but at the same time it’s not going to savage your hand if you’re au fait with high performance 911 models. Adopt the slower-in-faster-out driving maxim and you’ll be astounded at the way this things scrabbles through corners.

I blitzed Franschhoek Pass, twice, with a pace I’ve never experienced in any other automobile (probably GT2 RS included). Mechanical grip levels are massive through slower corners courtesy super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres while faster sweeps (200km/h plus) are aided by a level of downforce that even a total downforce Luddite such as myself can feel.

A road-handler of the highest order the GT3 RS is also befitted with anchors of the gods. Steel brakes come standard and are probably proficient for most people. My car was fitted with optional carbon ceramic stoppers, which provide the most perfect blend of feel and fade-free retardation. It’s the sweet cherry on top of what must be the most complete and well-rounded 911 in Porsche’s arsenal.

Adjustable rear wing provides considerable downforce at speeds above 200km/h
Adjustable rear wing provides considerable downforce at speeds above 200km/h
Image: Porsche

Does it only come in that, uh, retina-singeing shade of green?

You mean Lizard Green? No you can order your GT3 RS in other colours if you wish. Heck, as long you have the cash Porsche will paint it Paris Hilton Pink. But then why would you want to? Green is good. Green is the colour of reptiles and danger and aliens and mysterious monsters that emerge from broiling nuclear seas.

As such it’s only fitting that you do the right thing and order your RS with this paint licked across its bodywork. In fact as the marque’s most focused warrior, slayer of lap times and punisher of personal driving goals, it should be the default choice.

Fast Facts: Porsche 991.2 GT3 RS

Engine: 3996cc flat-six

Power: 383kW at 8,250rpm

Torque: 470Nm at 6,000rpm

Transmission: Seven-speed PDK

0-100km/h: 3.2-seconds (claimed)

Top speed: 312km/h (claimed)

Fuel: 18.6l/100km (achieved)

Price: From R3 419 000