DRIVEN: PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS
The return of Porsche's homologation special means sleepless nights for Adam Towler
So here it is, the moment many of us have been waiting for: Porsche's homologation special returns, squeaking its way across the blindingly clean workshop floor of the Weissach Motorsport department and out into the wide world.
It is, according to its instigator Andreas Preuninger - head of the GT department at Porsche - a "car that a guy must see an advert for, and then not be able to sleep that night". I'd go along with that: the night before I drove it I couldn't sleep. It is also claimed to differentiate more from the standard GT3 than the Gen 1 version did (along with a seven seconds faster 'Ring time), but at £104,841 it is also £18,777 more expensive than a standard GT3, a car that, it should be remembered, is already sublime.
Engine and chassis, weight-loss and aero: those are the three main areas of development. For the former, Porsche has carried over the new 3.8-litre motor from the regular GT3, but there are a few changes to take the power up to 450hp (from 435hp).
Chiefly, these involve a whole new air intake system breathing through two enlarged ram air intakes on the engine lid, the ECU is remapped, there's a modified titanium exhaust, and a further 1kg has been machined off the single-mass flywheel compared to the old car. Compared to the GT3 the dampers are new and the anti-roll bars revised, while PADM active engine mounts are standard fit, as is PASM suspension and full stability and traction control.
Porsche's problem is that for every kilo they save, others are being put back in. For starters, the wider body is heavier, there's the Clubsport cage, and the Gen 2 911s have more weight in the nose due to increased crash protection. In response, Porsche has the single nut lightweight wheels, a plastic rear 'screen, a composite engine cover and the carbon fibre rear wing. Then you factor in the carbon buckets, the ceramics, the optional lightweight battery (-10kg).
Porsche has also tried harder with the little details this time around: there is no sound deadening in the roof on the RS, there are no internal door handles (just red pull cords) and even the cup holders have been deleted from the dash (saving 300gms!).
Today, on the tight mountain roads in southern France, that may not be so important. All of the above tech talk is great, but the thing that really grabs you by the undercarriage is the feel and emotion of this car. It's just so responsive, so precise and analogue, so pure in feel. That sound too - reverberating off the mountainside from over a mile away - exotic, granite-edged and rising to a pitch and volume where it seems the engine must burst apart.
Prod the throttle and you notice another difference with the RS - the lower final drive and a shorter sixth gear certainly make the car more responsive, although for UK use they could be shorter still. Hold it to the floor and the RS will sing 'round to 8,500rpm, with performance as ferocious as you'd expect.
Still, so much of this car has been tailored for the track, so it would be wrong to claim this is a full review, based as it was on a day charging at mountain hairpins and another watching giant snow flakes idly collecting on that outrageous plank of a rear wing. That there seems excellent front end grip, allied with the confidence from that wonderful steering, and the aforementioned aero improvements, all point to greatness, but that remains to be seen.