Porsche 911 GT3 RS 2024 review – is this peak 911 road car?
It’s the most extreme 911 for years and we know it’s sensational on track, but how will the latest RS fare on the road? Let’s find out
Don’t do it. Don’t fall into the trap of hating the 992 GT3 RS because some people are willing to pay a vast premium over the already vast £192,600 asking price. Don’t roll your eyes and think ‘well, they’ll just sit in air-conditioned garages, anyway’. Firstly, my experience suggests this is only partly true. For every 992 GT3 RS that will slip from one collector to the next without ever being truly exercised, there will be another that pounds around Silverstone, Spa and the Ring. Visit any trackday in the UK or Europe and you’ll see new and nearly new GT3s and RSs represented very strongly.
More important even than this use case, though, is that Porsche Motorsport’s engineers and test drivers sweated and toiled for the most enlightened customers. The ones who plan their year around weekends at the best circuits within a few days’ drive of their home. They pushed in every area to make a truly enthralling driver’s car with huge capability and endurance. Their version of the ultimate track-focused 911. In fact, this group went further than ever. Just look at the 992 GT3 RS. You may not like the overall aesthetic, but it’s impossible to behold its distended, outrageous and brutally functional shapes and not conclude that no stone was left unturned in this project. It’s just plain bonkers.
We’ve already experienced the results of this intense development programme on the Silverstone GP circuit and were left agog at the aero performance of the RS and the commitment it can soak up and turn into raw lap time. It was a remarkable encounter but it left us wondering if the new RS could adapt its core attributes to the very different demands out in the wild. So today we’re setting it free. Perhaps into an environment where things could get a little tricky for the stiffest, maddest and most extreme iteration of a 911 road car to emerge from Porsche since the homologation-satisfying GT1. If it's any indication, though, its road performance helped it earn a spot in 2023's evo Car of the Year test...
Engine, gearbox and technical highlights
Despite the radical makeover there’s reassuring familiarity in the RS’s 4.0-litre naturally-aspirated flat-six and seven-speed PDK transmission. The motor really has been squeezed until it pips to find an extra 15bhp in the face of stringent emission regs. This gain lifts the total to 518bhp at 8500rpm thanks to the adoption of RS-specific cylinder heads, camshafts and throttle bodies (now one per-cylinder). Airflow management has also been optimised to ensure hot air is channelled along the flanks of the car, while colder, denser air runs over the roof and into the intake scoop in the top of the engine cover.
There’s so much detail to navigate here and we’ll try to get into it as the day unfolds. However, so much of it seems irrelevant for the road. The RS is a downforce monster and a great deal of the engineering in the car is to create phenomenal load and utilise it as best as possible. It defines the entire car – from the single, centrally mounted radiator that lives where once your overnight bag would, to the massive swan-neck rear wing with adjustable rake and an operating range of 34 degrees from low drag to full airbrake deployment. Who thought there would ever be a DRS button on the steering wheel of a 911? The peak downforce figure – 860kg at 177mph – beats a 992 GT3 Cup car and is in the lower range of a full-on 911 RSR set up for the long straights at Le Mans.
We won’t be hitting 177mph today. Maybe not even 170mph. So instead let’s examine some of the other intriguing aspects of this 518bhp, 1450kg road car. It is a road car, after all. Most fascinating of all for our time on weather-beaten surfaces with unpredictable humps, material changes and strange cambers is the adjustable nature of the suspension. It has all the really cool stuff you’d expect, of course. This Weissach Package car has carbonfibre anti-roll bars (saving 1.5kg at each end), plus the delightfully geeky aero-optimised front control arms and gorgeous magnesium wheels (saving another 8kg). But you can also adjust bump and rebound for front and rear dampers on the fly via simple rotary controls on the steering wheel. Could this be a magic bullet to tame the RS for road use?
Ride and handling
Funnily enough, its configurability is only unlocked in Track mode, which is reached by toggling through Normal and Sport modes. To confuse matters further, it’s still possible to stiffen or relax the dampers to a pre-determined level in these modes with the damper button on the centre console, as per the standard GT3.
It all sounds head-meltingly confusing but, in reality, you find yourself simply driving in Normal mode, or going straight to Track so you can play with the dampers manually. Bump and rebound settings range from -4 to +4 with the default set to zero. Porsche has been careful to ensure that even if somebody selected, for example, full soft on the front and full hard on the rear, the balance won’t be dangerously wayward. When you consider that the RS is fully rose-jointed and has spring rates 50 per cent stiffer than the already uncompromising 992 GT3, you’d imagine that away from the confines of a racetrack it might all be in vain…
The real world is littered with bumps. And cat’s eyes. And crappy road repairs. This car rides on the less extreme Cup 2 tyres, but the 275-section fronts get hooked into all sorts of grooves and cambers and even within the ‘Normal’ mode’s operating window the ride is disjointed and busy. The car’s structure feels rock-solid and the rose-jointed suspension never knocks, creaks or rattles, but at low and medium speeds there’s a physical, knuckly feeling to the way the RS gets down a road. Not so much limbering-up as cracking joints in preparation for what lays ahead.
One thing the dampers can’t do is ease away the sheer scale of the RS. The adoption of the Turbo shell might only add 29mm to the front and rear tracks and 48mm to the body itself, but the RS looks huge when you approach it and feels huge upon climbing inside. The driving environment is fantastic and the steering wheel is so small, but with the seat wound down low the Turbo shell seems to sprawl around you. No complaints about the quietly serious messages that whisper from everything you touch or see, though. From the taut Alcantara trim to the satin-finish carbon for the door handles, the RS feels at once pared-back and reassuringly solid. Fittingly, like a car you wouldn’t hesitate to jump into for a double stint through the night. The view out over the vented bonnet is evocative of the shrill whizz of wheelguns and that thick smell of hot tyres, too.
So it seems odd to start the 4-litre flat-six and slope quietly out into normal traffic, the seven-speed PDK ’box shuffling through ratios without so much as a bump and the RS doing, well, normal car things. Side mirrors are full of gaping intakes, the rear wing is so tall it would afford a fantastic view were it not for the thick spars of the oddly shaped but gorgeous carbonfibre roll-cage (part of the £29,600 Weissach Package, which also includes things like the titanium paddleshifters and visible carbonfibre for the exterior, accompanying the aforementioned carbon anti-roll bars and mag wheels) and hot air streams through the bonnet to such an extent that the world occasionally seems to be in soft focus. But it is the real world, full of vans, hatchbacks and SUVs. The RS feels like a superhero in line at the supermarket check-out.
Performance and 0-62 time
That scintillating 9000rpm engine and super-sharp 7-speed PDK ‘box (now with a shortened ratios and final drive for added in-gear snap) is one of the all-time great partnerships. Though not night-and-day different to the GT3, there’s a definite uptick in urgency and intensity. Against the clock 0-60mph arrives in 3.0sec, 100mph in 6.9. Top speed is 184mph, some 14mph down on the GT3 despite DRS.
The whole car feels like it’s waiting for more speed and more positivity. The steering is unbelievably responsive; the solid brake pedal is accurate even with gentle inputs, but you sense there’s massive power just waiting to be deployed (amazingly, the carbon-ceramic discs fitted to this car are a cost option); there’s a latent energy that almost demands to be unleashed. The only slightly more timid aspect is, um, the engine. Yes, the wonderful, howling, naturally aspirated flat-six that revs to 9000rpm. It sounds so crisp and pure even at low speeds but somehow the low- and mid-range performance seems at odds with what your eyes are relaying and the tense, sinewy responses of the chassis. It’s no coincidence that the 5000rpm marker is located at 12 o’clock on the rev counter. That’s about where things get going.
By the time I’ve peeled away from the motorway and started to scythe across country, I’ve already discovered that Track mode is pretty much the only mode you’ll ever want. Just as with the GT3 and GT4 RS, the stiffer settings seems to settle the whole car down. From bobbly and slightly ill-at-ease, the ride becomes so much more decisive. It’s not supple in the way of a McLaren or Ferrari, but the platform feels so stable and it deals with all but the very worst surfaces with instantaneous efficiency, leaving you to just focus on unpicking the road and unleashing the engine.
It’s a fascinating and sometimes quite surreal experience. It many ways the seeds of the traditional 911 experience are completely gone. On the road at least, this is not a car that requires a unique driving style to exploit. No concessions are required for the peculiar engine position. The RS turns in with startling speed and accuracy. Not good in the sense that you don’t really think about it. Good as in ‘oh my god, how does it react so quickly?’ It takes your breath away. Now layer on top the mechanical grip of a chassis with huge roll stiffness that still squeezes the massive tyres into the surface, plus the rear engine’s natural advantages in terms of traction and the result is nothing short of outrageous. Corners no longer have ‘phases’. The RS allows you to overlap turn-in and throttle application to the extent that even roads you know well become brand new. It plays by a different set of rules.
Part of this incredible tolerance of highly committed turn-in melding with all the throttle your brain will allow (it takes some time to create the new pathways) is due to the engine’s relative lack of torque. I almost daren’t say it, but even at the glorious, shrieking top end, the 4-litre flat-six is no match for the grip and traction on offer. I can see that being a frustration for some. Certainly, the needle is swung much further in the direction of grip than power, which is unusual in this world of the 450bhp BMW M2 or an 820bhp ‘baby’ mid-engined Ferrari.
So once again the GT3 RS requires a mental reset. The thrill comes from carrying speed, from opening up the engine early and living at high revs, from having the chassis fully loaded and being dazzled by the immense turn-in stability, the wonderful, neutral balance and the sheer agility it demonstrates. In itself that’s a bigger thrill than reining a car in all the time, but on the road it does make the RS a curious proposition. To really enjoy its capabilities requires a level of commitment that’s uncomfortable in all but the most remote and empty locations.
Luckily there’s much to enjoy at lower speeds, too. The tactile sensation of the titanium paddles with their new heavier magnetic action, the precise throttle mapping, that immensely satisfying steering response and the overwhelming impression that you’re in something that elevates the mundane into something heroic. The rear wing flattening off as the DRS activates in 3/10ths of a second should feel a bit silly, for example, but actually it’s oddly cool and exciting. If you couldn’t feel the added aero-enabled stability as speeds rise it would be a nonsense, but the RS is one of very few cars where you can start to feel the downforce work in quicker turns. There’s a wonderful authenticity to the whole experience.
What about the suspension adjustment that could so easily slip into the realms of gimmick? It’s fabulous. The on-the-fly adjustment of the suspension genuinely creates a greater sense of depth and it’s really enjoyable to play around with different settings and feel how they affect the car’s dynamic responses. Playing with the lock-up characteristics of the rear e-diff is also particularly satisfying and does start to allow you to bring the rear of the car into play, too, should you want that slightly more rear-led feel that a 911 fan can’t help but crave.
There are new dimensions to explore here. The old cliché about 911s was that owners would continue to learn and explore their many dynamic facets over a long period. It’s why they’ve always held such a fascination. In recent years and with each subsequent generation – particularly since the 991 arrived – this notion has been eroded as the rear-engined foibles have been polished away. The 992 GT3 RS takes this to extremes. In many ways, it’s not a 911 experience at all.
But by allowing so much mechanical configurability (and this is the key: mechanical) in such a simple, intuitive way, the driver can find a new level of engagement and start a new and deeply fulfilling relationship. Sounds corny, but then it always did, right? The 992 GT3 RS is an aero-monster. But it’s a fascinating, multi-dimensional and highly enjoyable road car, too.
Price and rivals
A £192,600 starting price puts the RS just behind the S/T as the most expensive 911 on sale, but we can tell you without reservation that the 992 GT3 RS is the biggest single step on from its predecessor since the 996 GT3 RS back in 2004. It’s a truly sensational machine. Even more dramatic in the metal than it is in pictures, it makes a 992 GT3 look like a Carrera and worth the £50k list price premium on kerb appeal alone.
The McLaren Senna is perhaps the closest modern road car to the RS in terms of outright track, aero focus, but Woking's offering was almost four times the price, and strictly limited to just 500 units. The more recent Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series follows a similar brief to the RS, but its turbocharged V8 lacks the character and occasion of the 911's incredible flat-six. Corvette's upcoming ZR1 might prove to be the closest match yet, but until then, there's not much to concern the 992 RS.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS (992) specs
|518bhp @ 8500rpm
|343lb ft @ 6300rpm
This story was first featured in evo issue 315.