The 2019 Porsche GT3 RS is available in nine different exterior paint schemes. The most interesting of these is a shade called “lizard green.” Not only is this particular hue a head-turner of epic proportion, but it also resonates with the lizard brain, the part of the human brain that triggers the fight-or-flight response.
Make no mistake: If you want to fight or take flight, the GT3 RS is a fantastic weapon of choice. With the introduction of this new model, there are now 24 different versions of the iconic 911 available for purchase in Canada. But there are some very specific ways in which the GT3 RS separates itself from that crowd.
First: It’s the most track-focused of all the 911 variants, apart from the recently introduced GT2 RS. To be sure, every single 911 in the fleet can be driven to the nearest racetrack, thrashed for hours on end, then driven right back home again without missing a shift. But the GT2 RS and GT3 RS are the most extreme examples of this particular formula.
Second: The GT3 RS and the GT3 (upon which the RS is based) are the last remaining non-turbocharged 911s in existence. That’s right: If you crave the mechanical symphony of a normally aspirated flat-six engine growling at 9,000 rotations a minute, you’re down to just these two options – the other 22, including the GT2 RS, are all saddled with the whistle of forced induction.
“There will be another GT3 RS in about two years’ time,” Oliver Berg, manager of the GT product line for Porsche AG, says with a hint of defiance in his voice. “We’re not finished with the naturally aspirated engine yet.”
To assess whether the GT3 RS is, indeed, a great way to feed the lizard brain, Porsche commandeered the Nuerburgring Grand Prix track for an all-out, high-speed session. Connected to the more infamous Nordschleife, this circuit is fantastic in its own right: The layout is fast, flowing and just technical enough to make things interesting. And right from the get-go, the GT3 RS proves up to the challenge.
The secret to taking flight around this track is to use plenty of curb and, at times, a little bit of the grass beyond. The bolstered suspension system allows for maximum attack, the Porsche maintaining its composure and its speed across less-than-smooth surfaces. The superbly precise steering system also lets the driver select exactly where to place the car on the track – or off the edge of the track, as the case may be.
In the GT3 RS, the secret to taking the fight to the competition is to drive the corners as quickly as you dare. This Porsche is not fast compared with other supercars because it has better acceleration (it doesn’t) or greater top speed (it doesn’t) – it’s fast because it has greater downforce and more grip, which allow for more speed through the turns. (The gigantic fixed rear wing is not just for show; neither are the beefy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires on all four corners.)
While it takes some experimentation to figure out exactly how much speed to carry into and through the turns, the Porsche is willing to play right along. In the slower turns, the GT3 RS rewards a deft touch on the brake pedal, all the way to the apex in some cases, and it dances on the edge of adhesion easily. There’s also some patience required with the throttle; too much lead-footing it before the front wheels are straight will induce snap oversteer. But even when loss of traction occurs, the redoubtable Porsche stability management system is on guard, keeping things in check, ensuring even the rank amateur comes across looking like a track-day champion.
Ultimately, the 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS does have what it takes to feed the lizard brain – it has all the speed, the noise and the brutal performance to meet this particular demand. But there’s more here than meets the medulla oblongata: This is a supercar that can create a deep and profound connection with drivers at all skill levels.
If you’re new to track driving, the GT3 RS represents a fantastic learning aid. If you have the ability to threaten a lap record around the Nordschleife, the GT3 RS is there to support you all the way. Of course, all of this excellence doesn’t come cheap; while it’s not the most expensive of the current 911s, this supercar still costs a tidy $213,400 to start.
- Base price: $213,400
- Engine: 4.0-litre, flat-six cylinder
- Transmission/drive: Seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic/rear-wheel
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km): TBA
- Alternatives: Audi R8 V10 Coupe, Lamborghini Huracan Performante, Mercedes-AMG GT R, Porsche 911 GT3, Porsche 911 Turbo
The timeless shape of the Porsche 911 gains new purchase here with the slammed ride height, brash air intakes everywhere you look and a fixed rear wing that could double as an ironing board. The version tested boosted machismo to new heights with a roll cage that, unfortunately, is not legal in Canada.
There’s not much difference between a base 911 and this racy derivative, apart from embossed seats, brightly coloured belts and that unobtainable roll cage. This is, perhaps, a missed opportunity to bring in cool switchgear and other race-inspired touches that the target customer would likely covet.
The GT3 RS is not the most powerful supercar on the market, but it does possess the most powerful naturally aspirated production engine in Porsche history. Rated at 520 horsepower, the engine is 20 markers up on both the previous-generation GT3 RS and the current GT3. The secret to its success: A free-revving nature (redline is 9,000 rpm) and a blindingly quick dual-clutch transmission that, when left to its own devices, never lets the tach fall below 6,250 rpm.
This Porsche is the poster child for race-bred technology: the engine, transmission, suspension system, steering and brakes are all track-tested and track-ready. It’s not easy to engineer a supercar that’s rewarding to drive on the open road and easy to drive on the track – this is what Porsche does best.
THE VERDICT: 9.0
The ultimate naturally aspirated 911 – ’nuff said.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval