Turbo models might sit atop the Porsche 911 tree in terms of power and expense, but it’s the GT3 and even more focused GT3 RS models that really illustrate what Stuttgart’s engineers are capable of.
The latest 991-based car has recently been spotted in a car park in the automaker’s hometown, giving a clue as to its upgrades over the standard GT3 – evo’s Car of the Year in 2013.
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RS beginnings: The RS 2.7
The RS (‘RennSport’, or ‘racing sport’ in English) lineage began with the Carrera RS 2.7 of 1973, its lightweight build and race-bred engine pointing the way for future models carrying the badge.
Performance, for its day, was staggering: 0-60mph in 5.6sec, 100mph in 12.8sec and 150mph at the top end. RS models were visually apparent by a small ducktail spoiler on the rear deck and a lower, deeper front splitter.
Carrera script was pasted along the sills, its colour replicated on the distinctive Fuchs alloy wheels. Inside, the RS’s cabin was Spartan, even by the standards of modestly-equipped contemporary 911s.
996 GT3 RS
Several models have since carried the RS moniker, but in the modern era it was the 996 GT3 RS of 2003 that revived the name. Based on the 996 GT3, the RS featured an upgraded 381bhp version of the ‘Mezger’ racing engine.
In its basic form, the water-cooled flat-six was developed for Porsche’s 1990s GT1 racing models, and has since become legendary in Porsche circles through its installation in GT3 models.
Uprated springs and dampers replaced those of the regular GT3, with a high-downforce rear wing and distinctive decals paying homage to those on the 1973 RS.
997 GT3 RS
A GT3 RS version of the Porsche 997 followed, once again eclipsing the standard GT3 – unique features included a plastic rear window to aid weight reduction and a wider track for greater grip and stability.
The 997 GT3 RS reached its zenith with the GT3 RS 4.0 of 2011 – a 493bhp road-going racer capable of 62mph in 3.9sec, brushing 193mph and limited to just 600 examples worldwide.
As the pinnacle of 911 development at the time, it was an obvious inclusion in evo’s 2011 Car of the Year test, and duly walked away with the title against stiff competition – 2011’s Algarve-based eCotY also saw debuts from the McLaren MP4-12C, BMW 1M Coupe and Porsche’s own Cayman R.
The latest generation of GT3 broke the traditional mould in several areas. Out was the manual gearbox, in favour of a seven-speed PDK. Also dropped was hydraulic power assisted steering, replaced by an electric setup.
The Mezger engine was also finally replaced, its 3.8-litre successor producing 468bhp at a screaming 8250rpm. A spate of engine failures caused by faults in an external supplier’s part sullied its early reputation but there’s little doubt the 991 GT3 provides the perfect basis for an RS model.
991 GT3 RS: What we know
Details on the latest car are limited to those apparent from the hastily-grabbed Instagram images posted online, but the new car is notable for its sizeable rear wing, deeper front spoiler and pressure-reducing vents in the front wings.
Inside, a set of 918 Spyder-inspired seats is also visible, with a yellow strip denoting the top of the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel.
If previous RS models are anything to go by, it’s likely the new car will also feature several weight-reducing elements – perhaps including a plastic rear screen – an extra injection of power and some unique colour scheme and decal options.
No set release date has been announced either, but best indications point to a launch at the Geneva motor show in March.