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04 Jan 2023

Test driving the new 911 GT3 RS

Kyle Fortune explores the aerodynamic wizardry of the new 911 GT3 RS  

The test driver, former racer and Porsche brand ambassador Jörg Bergmeister admits that, when he heard that the GT Department’s aim for the new GT3 RS would be an ‘aero’ car, he was concerned. His reasoning was that aerodynamics are very sensitive to ride height, pitch and heave, and the Nürburgring is bumpy.
There’s no lap time around the Nürburgring to report – yet – but that’s got nothing to do with the bumps and everything to do with the weather. Expect it to be quick, though, GT2 RS quick, which will be extraordinary given the sizeable deficit in power that the 992 GT3 RS brings. Not that 525PS is lacking, but it’s only a marginal gain over a GT3 in light of the engine in the RS not being the focus. It’s been worked on, yes, with hotter cams, new heads and differing single throttle intake system, but Porsche’s engine man Thomas Mader says he was busier preparing what’s essentially a racing engine to pass ever more restrictive regulations for economy, emissions and noise than chasing any increased power.

The RS has to work on the road too, making things even trickier, but the huge wing out the back and the RS’s overtly aero-honed body underlines that aerodynamics is indeed the route the GT Department has taken. The gains here are all about that aero, with the headline figure for downforce being a quite extraordinary 860kg at slightly under 180mph. That’s about twice what the last GT3 RS produced and three times that of the 992 GT3, which goes some way to explaining why the RS’s underling actually has a faster top speed even if you’ve set that big rear wing to its flattest DRS (Drag Reduction System) setting via a button on the wheel or simply by having your right foot resolutely planted to the bulkhead.
It’s everywhere else that the RS promises to be faster. Significantly so. Porsche chose Silverstone for the international launch of the RS to demonstrate exactly that because it’s a big, fast circuit where aerodynamics can genuinely come into play. It chose well. Braking, corner entry, apex and exit speed – the RS just manages more of all, and a lot more at that. I’ve done countless laps around Silverstone and the way the GT3 RS maintains its momentum is genuinely staggering.
Actual acceleration doesn’t feel particularly wild – a Turbo is more eye-widening in this regard – but the potential to leave braking to the very last moment before turning in
and carrying more speed through and out the corner than you’d think possible is where the RS differs. It’s so stable and confidence-inspiring when you are doing so too, which only increases the feeling that it could go faster again.
And it could. Bergmeister admits there’s a trick to maximise downforce, with the quickest dab of the brakes while still under power setting the active aero to maximum attack, allowing the GT3 RS – when driven by him as opposed to by me – to take some corners flat. Porsche actually claims that, in longer curves, the RS can maintain higher speeds and g-loads than a slick-shod Cup car. My neck muscles can attest to that, the RS asking as much from you physically as a race car does. For all that, it’s still a car that anyone can enjoy. The sensations it delivers are rich and, crucially, despite gaining racing car potential, it still feels like a 911.
The RS has always been the most track-focussed of the 911s and the 992 follows a familiar recipe to achieve that, but the mix is a bit different. It’s heavier, for starters. The Turbo body which allows for a wider front and rear track brings some additional weight, as do the wider axles, bigger wheels and tyres as well as things like the huge wing sat (somewhat obviously) out the back. It’s a small increase, though, because they’ve added as much as they’ve taken away. This 911 is the most visually distinct from the regular, familiar form that it’s ever been thanks to the way it’s been shaped to exploit the air travelling over, through, under and around it.
Those doors are carbon fibre, as is the bonnet (the latter regardless of whether you’ve opted for a Weissach Pack or not). The Weissach Pack brings carbon fibre anti-roll bars, a visible carbon fibre roof and some trim pieces inside, as well as a part-painted, part-visible carbon bonnet, the upper portion of the rear wing in carbon with a PORSCHE decal placed underneath and the lightest forged magnesium wheels. That adds a not-insignificant £22,515 if you can live without the trick carbon fibre roll cage or £25,739 if you can’t. Honestly, having driven a non-Weissach Package car all day, it really didn’t feel wanting.

The interior is familiar GT3, but the steering wheel has gained some additional knobs. There are four now, allowing you to be driver and race engineer in one. Push and twist and you can configure things like the compression and rebound settings on the front and rear dampers, pick a variety of modes for the traction and stability control and even adjust the electronic differential settings, be it on power or overrun. That might sound like overkill, but it really does allow you to tune the car to work how you want or like it. Just how much of an effect this has was revealed when a tweak of the differential setting’s overrun to be more open meant the tight left-hand corner where I’d been experiencing a touch of push-on understeer was completely removed. Clever stuff, and that’s certain to make trackdays even more fun – especially in changeable conditions.
The new GT3 RS, like all those before it, retains its ability to absolutely captivate while driving, being rich in sensation and detail and quite brain-scramblingly rapid. Like Bergmeister, I’ll admit to having been a bit worried about the direction Porsche has taken with the new RS when I first pored over the details at the reveal. But, having now driven it, I can confirm that it’s resolutely the right decision. Every RS is special, but some are more so than others and this is one of them.

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