Ah mate, it’s good … don’t get me wrong (referring to the turbocharged GT2 RS), but my absolute favourite is the GT3 RS; that’s the ultimate 911,’ says gritty Aussie Mark Webber to me atop the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb course for Porsche’s 70th-anniversary parade. Wow: quite the endorsement. Now, eight months later, I get to make up my own mind. The car in question is essentially the farewell to the current 991.2–model 911, which’ll be replaced in 2019 by a new version of Porsche’s iconic sports coupé. It’s painted in a thermonuclear shade of Lizard Green, with the vanity license plate to match.
The RS is already a pared-down, hardened-up version of the breathtakingly brilliant GT3, replacing aluminium doors, roof, fenders and bonnet with carbon-fibre parts, but Porsche’s gone and loaded the deck further still on this car with the full Weissach package, which brings with it five-point race harnesses, fire extinguisher and goodness knows what else. By the sound and feel of the thing, another million horsepower! It certainly feels like enough power to generate its own microclimate. 383 kW and 470 Nm from a 4.0-litre flat-six squatting over the rear axle like Ben-Hur is 15 kW up from a regular GT3, and let me assure you numbers are only part of it, because this naturally aspirated beast is quite the storyteller. Redline is at 8 800 rpm, with peak power at an intense 8 250 rpm, and there is nothing quite as riveting as taking it there, gear, after gear, after gear.
Comparisons between 911s are odious, especially ones fettled by Andreas Preuninger and the greatest GT minds at Porsche, because those who know will tell you each one is unique. Many enthusiasts own both a GT2 RS and GT3 RS. They acknowledge they’re different cars. There’s much more going on under the skin of an RS than in a regular GT3: a bespoke induction system, titanium exhaust with an absolutely savage soundtrack, 20-inch front- and 21-inch rear wheels, magnesium roll cage, carbon-ceramic discs with their telltale skimming sound, and carbon-fibre everything else, all making the RS tighter, tauter and even more immediate than a GT3.
Left foot hard on the brake, right foot hard on the throttle engages launch control. Revs spike into the stratosphere and lifting off the brake is like yanking on a lion’s tail. We spear off from standstill at full speed and with full control. A red-hot, bassy din fills the cabin as the engine revs out. Then a distinct kick at 5 000 rpm when proceedings go all blood and guts; this is the hang-on-tight zone until the rev counter reads 7 250. Where most engines are running out of ideas, the GT3 RS is only in mid stride and you have another 1 500 rpm to go. Absolute heaven!
At this point, when a corner approaches, you really appreciate the brake pedal that’s as firm as border control at Checkpoint Charlie. Into a bend there are no furtive fumbles, just planetary grip from the Michelin Pilot Super Sports, a balanced chassis and clever time-saving rear-wheel steering. It’s all too competent to slide purely on big throttle prods; to unlock its adjustability you must find your inner Aussie grit and drive beyond your limits.
This is just another way of saying the GT3 RS makes you a better driver. The steering shimmers with feel and the whole structure bounds and wriggles with feedback. You become attuned to every response from the road and considerate of every input you enact from the wheel. Like a race car on a circuit, once you’ve dealt with that initial menace and are dialled in, you go quiet and are constantly on the lookout for how you can shave a tenth of a second, go faster, be better. Turn in late here, ride out a little wider there, carry more corner speed here, avoid the bump on the apex there. It is absolutely immersive! And the raw speed and drama when you find this peak performance is simply breathtaking. All other vehicles on the road, no matter their speed, are like stationary objects to a GT3 RS, mobile chicanes that need carving up.
With photography done and the need for speed well and truly blasted out of our systems, I back out of the hardest damper setting, PDK Sport and binoculars (loud exhaust) mode and assess how the RS behaves at something less than ten tenths. And herein lies its genius – and I suspect what Mark Webber might’ve been on about – even at living-with-it-speeds, it’s still so unerringly complete. You can easily miss its polish when you are only out to chase the rush – stuff like the comfortable seats and beautiful carbon-fibre detailing throughout the cabin. Ultimately, the GT3 RS feels like a labour of love, obsessively honed and alive with passion. What a swansong for the current 991.2 911. We can’t wait for the next.