If you want a sports car that can seamlessly double as a luxury car, arguably the best answer is a Porsche 911. However, what happens if your rear-engine car isn’t extreme enough? If you’re into off-roading, you go Safari. But if your goal is carving corners, that’s where Porsche has the 911 GT3 and GT2 models. And recently, Porsche’s GT program director, Andreas Preuninger, let publications take some of the best modern hits for a spin.
The water-cooled Porsche 911 GT3 models
Although the ‘GT’ name has appeared on other Porsches, a 911 didn’t bear it until the sports car switched from air- to water-cooled engines. That’s what distinguishes the ‘modern’ 911 from a ‘vintage’ one. And, perhaps slightly ironically, the first Porsche 911 GT3 launched as part of the oft-despised 996 generation, Automobile reports.
However, while US customers got the 996 GT3, we never received the RS model, which is a true homologation special, Roadshow reports. Like the ‘normal’ 996 Porsche 911 GT3, the RS has a 3.6-liter flat-6 officially rated at 375 hp, Car and Driver reports. However, MotorTrend reports that it really makes closer to 400 hp. Also, the RS is about 100 pounds lighter than the GT3, thanks to carbon-ceramic brakes, a polycarbonate rear window, and a carbon-fiber wing and hood, Automobile reports.
Chronologically, the next Porsche 911 GT3 RS is a 2011 model from the 997 generation. Officially, the car’s name is ‘GT3 RS 4.0,’ owing to its 4.0-liter flat-6 which, thanks to 911 RSR race car parts, makes 493 hp. Oh, and it redlines at 8500 RPM, MT reports. Like the 996 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, the 2011 model has a carbon-fiber wing and hood. But it also has aluminum doors, Perspex windows, adaptive engine mounts, and carbon-fiber seats.
Interestingly, Porsche didn’t bring out the out-going 911 GT3 RS. However, it did let journalists preview the upcoming GT3, Roadshow reports. As of this writing, many of its specific technical details are unknown. However, we do know it has a 4.0-liter naturally-aspirated flat-6, a manual transmission, a new rear wing, upgraded front suspension, and a curb weight of “around 3,100 pounds,” Roadshow reports.
Bringing in the GT2 RS cars
The 997-gen also saw the release of the Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Unlike the contemporary GT3 RS, the GT2 RS isn’t a homologation car, Roadshow reports. However, Preulinger got permission to make an RS version of the 997 GT2 after the Nissan GT-R beat its time at the Nurburgring.
Unlike the Porsche 911 GT3 models, the GT2 cars are turbocharged. For the 997 model, that means a 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged flat-6 rated at 620 hp. That’s 90 more hp than the contemporary Turbo S has, making it the most powerful Porsche ever at the time.
And thanks to a carbon-fiber hood, lighter springs, aluminum suspension components, and other weight-saving measures, the GT2 RS weighs about 400 pounds less, Car and Driver reports. Plus, unlike the dual-clutch-automatic AWD Turbo S, the GT2 RS has a 6-speed manual with RWD.
The 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS was the swan-song of the 997 generation, Car and Driver reports. That’s also the case with the other GT2 RS Preuninger brought, the 2018 model, which closes out the 991.1-gen 911. And it managed to break the previous car’s power record.
The 991.1 Porsche 911 GT2 RS has a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged flat-6 rated at 700 hp, Road & Track reports, 120 more hp than the contemporary Turbo S. And in Weissach Edition form, it’s about 300 pounds lighter, too. That’s thanks to a titanium exhaust system, many carbon-fiber components, optional magnesium wheels, and Gorilla Glass windows, Automobile reports. Plus, it has an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential and a cooling water spray built into the intercoolers.
The Porsche 911 R
Preuninger’s selection has one car without a GT moniker, though: the 2016 Porsche 911 R. However, it’s definitely his and his team’s product, MT reports.
The R was essentially a reaction to the contemporary GT3, Automobile explains. At the time, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS had ditched the manual for a PDK in the pursuit of faster lap times, R&T reports. Which, to be fair, is what happened in motorsports—and it worked. However, the fanbase reacted poorly. So, in response, Preuninger’s team created the 911 R, R&T reports, borrowing the name of a famous 60s 911 race car.
Like the contemporary Porsche 911 GT3, the R has a 4.0-liter flat-6 rated at 500 hp. However, it’s 113 pounds lighter than the GT3 RS, Car and Driver reports. And it doesn’t have a rear wing, any extra aerodynamic aides, and instead of the PDK, it has a 6-speed manual. Plus, no A/C, no infotainment, no rear seats, and significantly less sound deadening, MT reports. But it does have a limited-slip differential, rear-wheel steering, carbon-ceramic brakes, a magnesium roof, and carbon-fiber fenders and hood. Even the flywheel is lighter than the standard version.
Whether GT3 or GT2, these Porsche 911s are united in speed and fun
The 996 Porsche 911 GT3 RS shows its age compared to the rest, MT and Car and Driver report. Its tires aren’t as wide, and its shifter’s throws are a bit long. Plus, while its engine redlines at 8200 RPM, it’s down on power compared to the rest.
However, the 996 911 GT3 RS’s age is a good thing in other ways. It’s the lightest of the 5 cars, and it feels like it. The chassis, steering, and suspension all communicate well with the driver. As a result, even without stability or traction control, you can corner at high speed with high confidence.
Its successor, the 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, though, left MT and Roadshow smitten. Car and Driver describes it as “arguably the most special car” on the list. The steering is “perfect,” MT reports, the shifter’s throws are short and satisfying, there’s tons of grip, and the brakes are “unflappable.” And then there’s the “shriek” of the 4.0-liter engine redlining at 8500 RPM, Car and Driver reports.
The 997 Porsche 911 GT2 RS, in comparison, is much more subdued, MT reports. But it’s just as capable around a track, thanks to its adaptive suspension, overall balance, and precise steering, Roadshow reports. And while its turbocharged engine doesn’t howl as the GT3 RS’s does, it pulls immensely hard, Car and Driver reports. Plus, you can flat-shift the manual.
But it’s the successor, the 991.1 Porsche 911 GT2 RS, that MT describes as “weaponized speed.” Its steering isn’t quite as good as the earlier cars’ systems, and it doesn’t sound quite as good. But its record-breaking speed is actually fairly easy to access, Roadshow reports. It simply grips and goes. Little wonder Automobile described it as “the most outrageous driver’s 911 of all time.”
So, what about the Porsche 911 R? One word kept reappearing: ‘raw.’ There’s so little sound deadening, you can hear the transmission gears mesh and the engine’s intakes open, MT reports. But thanks to the suspension tuning and rear-wheel steering, it’s an extremely playful car, MT reports. It’s a bit of a parts-bin special, similar in some ways to the BMW 1M Coupe. But it’s also “simply spectacular to drive,” Car and Driver reports.
They weren’t cheap then, and they’re not cheap now
Trying to pick between these various 911 models is a bit like figuring out which ice cream flavor you want. They’re all great fun in their own way—which one you prefer is largely a matter of personal taste. And plenty of personal funds.
Each of these Porsche 911 GT3 and GT2 models commanded six-figure price tags when they were new. And apart from the 996 GT3, they still do on auction sites like Bring a Trailer. They’re also rare: Porsche only made 600 examples of the 997 911 GT3 RS 4.0, for example.
The 911 R, though, is in a class of its own. Porsche made 991 examples and each one was sold before the car was even announced. And because of its stripped-down, analog-throwback nature, used models are extremely expensive. As in, quarter-million dollars expensive.
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