For those who say a Porsche 911 Carrera S, GTS, Turbo or Turbo S are simply not enough, there are the GT2 and GT3 models. They’re insane, overpowered, meant for the race track and come with the six-figure price tags to match. And the 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, somehow, is on a whole other level.
(Full Disclosure: Porsche needed me to drive the new GT3 RS so badly had me at the Nürburgring, which I’ve been to once or maybe twice before, I can’t remember, and paid for the usual stuff.)
You’ve probably seen the video by now. Hot shoe extraordinaire, Kevin Estre, behind the wheel of wheel of the 2019 Porsche GT3 RS lapping the Nürbrurging Nordschleife in an absolutely epic 6:56.4. Now I’ve done more than a few laps on this circuit in Porsche’s full blown GT3 Cup race car. The first thing I noticed when I saw the video was that Estre was using the same braking points and carrying similar cornering speeds to what I would have in a GT3 Cup Car. Estre is a fantastic driver, and his talent is only exceeded by his bravery. But as good as Kevin is, he cannot ignore the laws of physics.
However, apparently Porsche can have a chat with the powers that be and make them look the other way for a tick under seven minutes.
As you’re undoubtedly aware, there are plenty of high-performance 911s in Porsche’s lineup. The GT2 and GT2 RS models have a turbocharger, while the GT3 goes naturally aspirated, which is a wonderful thing in our era of forced induction being the status quo.
The GT3 RS ups the ante even further with goodies like stiffened springs, new adaptive dampers, manually adjustable almost everything, a modified rear-steering system, front brake cooling and some enhancements to its 4.0-liter flat six engine. It’s all meant for lap times, not zero to 60 mph times, though it’s clearly good at that too.
The GT3 RS is the warrior Porsche. It’s not for showing off, it’s for doing battle.
On paper the 991.2 GT3 RS is not massively different from its 991.1 predecessor we saw just a few years ago. The list of big changes is relatively short.
On the drivetrain side the engine has 20 more horsepower and seven more lb-ft of torque, a total of 520 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque. It also has a seven speed PDK dual-clutch transmission only, and no manual will be available here.
Obviously there are tweaks from the GT3 as well. It’s now got a shorter rear axle ratio—4.188 vs 3.973 on the 911 GT3—allowing the 991.2 to got from 0-60 in 3.0 seconds, about 0.2 quicker than the GT3.
Additionally, the 991.2 is now based on the 28 mm wider 911 Turbo/Turbo S body like the GT2 RS, whereas the GT3 is based on the narrower Carrera 4 body. Besides looking cooler, this gives the RS a wider front (1588 mm compared to 1551 mm on 911 GT3) and rear track (37 mm and 2 mm respectively). And the suspension is now fitted with all metal ball joints as opposed to the GT3, which has a combination of metal ball joints and rubber bushings.
The RS also comes with larger front and rear wheels and tires (9.5 x 20 with Michelin Cup 265/35 ZR 20 up front and 12.5 x 20 with 325/30 ZR 21 Cups at the rear), resulting in an 18 percent front and 20 percent larger rear contact patch compared to the 911 GT3. A Michelin Cup R tire, with smaller tread blocks and a softer compound, will be available as a dealer option in Q3 of this year.
On the weight savings side, Porsche has added lightness in several areas using carbon fiber on the front fenders and luggage compartment lid, and magnesium on the roof. Lightweight Gorilla Glass (lovingly handmade by gorillas, I believe) is used on the rear side windows and rear hatch window.
Aerodynamics are similarly improved with a wider front spoiler and larger rear wing, the latter being manually adjustable with three angles positions to increase downforce. The new RS now boasts more than twice as much downforce at 200 km/h as the GT3, and over 40 percent more compared to the last-gen RS.
And finally, it has full bucket seats with carbon fiber backrests. Leave the kids at home. The price tag for all this stuff? It’s $188,550, including delivery.
So to recap: a bit more power, a bit more aero and a bit less weight. But if you just look at the numbers, you’re missing out on the sublime excellence that is the 991.2 GT3RS. It’s not just that everything has been improved—it’s that everything has been refined. That may be a small distinction but a very critical one.
When I roll down pit lane and on to a damp-ish Nürburgring GP circuit (Rain at the Nürburgring in April! Who’da thunk it), I switch into full race mode. With dozens of VLN and Nürburgring 24 hour races under my belt I can’t help it. A lot of auto writers say shit like that, but this place is literally my home. I know this track intimately and muscle memory takes over whether I want it to or not.
The issue is the last car I drove here was a lightweight, high downforce race car on slicks. The RS may be good, but it is inherently not what I just described. So the risk here is to overdrive the car, pushing beyond the limits, asking it to do things that a mere street car simply cannot be able to.
But this is where the RS surprises.
In a race car, braking for the ’Ring’s turn one hairpin is done at the bend in the pit lane blend line. Get on the brakes even a few meters too deep and you’ll go sailing past the apex and off into the conveniently placed gravel trap. In the RS, my braking point is only 30 meters earlier, mainly to avoid running into the back of the Porsche driver leading our train in a heavier Turbo S.
Given free reign (and the optional carbon brakes) I’m pretty confident I could push the RS deeper, matching my braking point in the purpose built race car.
The same rule bending applies to the RS’s cornering prowess. Exiting the long right hand Dunlop Curve, the GP track goes uphill leading to the famed Schumacher Ss. Entry to the corner in the race car is just a lift to set the front end and then a roll back onto the power to keep the car carrying speed up the hill as the track switches direction to the right. In the race car, you must be full power. Lift and you’ll lose the rear end as the car crests the hill.
Once again, the RS handles the challenge with race car-like precision. The balance of the car is almost perfect and give incredible levels of feedback allowing the driver to attack the corner with huge confidence.
This isn’t a street car—it is a race car with airbags.
Now one of the things that all 911s have struggled with since the dawn of time is front end grip. With the mass of the car located somewhere near the rear axle, 911s have always come up short when it comes to getting the nose pointed exactly where you want it. But the RS suffers from none of that traditional Porsche issue.
Some of the newfound front grip actually comes from the rear. Porsche has stolen the rear-wheel steering from the 991 Turbo and applied it to the RS. This helps the RS attack the corners like no other 911 out there. In this area the RS surpasses even the Porsche Cup car.
Driving a $200,000, 500+ HP rear-engined car on a damp and traction-limited track in front of assembled Porsche VP’s is not something that ranked particularly high on my bucket list, but the RS makes you feel like a Porsche factory driver, just without the paycheck.
The RS has so much grip and balance that, even though we were instructed to leave PASM (Porsche’s stability and traction control system) in Sport, it almost never intervened. Even in light rain. Porsche’s engineers have tuned the system so finely that they claim that leaving the system on does not result in slower lap times even for very experienced drivers, a claim I now fully believe.
One of the hallmarks of a car that is well balanced on the race track is a drivers ability to turn consistent lap time with it. Remember that bonkers lap from our friend Kevin Estre? Well it turns out that there were four laps. The times were 6:59.3, 6:57.5, 6:57.7, 6:56.4. That’s it. Four laps. Four lap times under seven minutes. Four laps all within three seconds of each other.
That’s pretty damn well balanced in my book.
At this point in a typical review, I’d now tell you about the RS’s street manners. Except I can’t do that as we were only given access to the RS on track. The Porsche guys claimed that it was due to lack of time and cars for all of the journalists, so they brought the Carrera T and the GT3 Touring for us to drive. Both awesome cars in their own right, but neither were the RS.
I’m fairly confident that the 991.2 RS’s ability as a daily driver won’t be much improved from its predecessors. Adding solid suspension bushings doesn’t usually improve ride quality. However, 85 percent of RS won’t give a damn about anything I would have said about the RS’s street limitations anyways. This is a track day car, one of the best out there and that’s the only thing that matters. To use it in any other context is a true waste.
So now for the bad news. First is that price tag I mentioned. That’s a $42,150 premium over the base GT3. And that’s before you start ticking boxes on Porsche’s infamous options list, and this being Porsche, oh boy are there options.
The main options are the Weissach Package with Carbon Fiber roof, carbon fiber sway bars, drop links, carbon fiber shift paddles and steering wheel trim, headrests embroidered with Weissach RS logos and Weissach RS plaque on dashboard trim. This will set you back another $18,000. If you pop for that then Porsche will allow you to spend an additional $13,000 for the magnesium wheels that are only available with the Weissach package.
The second bit of bad news is that the RS will only be produced until Spring of 2019. Estimates are that only about 2,000 RS-es will be allowed to roll of the line in that period of time, making one of the most sought-after Porsches also one of the most exclusive.
That being the case, it’s likely that a lot of these cars will be bought just to sit and be looked at or sit in traffic in Beverly Hills. But then again if you can afford one of these beautiful beasts and find yourself owning a GT3 RS, the call of the racetrack might be louder than you think.
The GT3 RS does not want to be caged in the confines of where normal cars putter. Treat it with respect, let it run free, and it can reward you with an absolutely unforgettable driving experience.