Although the base Carrera model is almost all the car you’ll ever need, there’s more than one Porsche 911. And we’re not just talking about the different model generations. In addition to the Carrera, the modern 911 lineup includes the S, GTS, Turbo, Targa, Cabriolet, and AWD ‘4’ models. And, for those interested in the highest levels of performance, there are the Porsche 911 GT3 and GT2 models. The GT4 moniker is reserved for the Cayman. But, while the names are similar, the two 911s approach speed very differently.
Porsche 911 GT3 models
Although the new Porsche 911 won’t be going electric, its engines will be getting turbos. Except for the GT3 models.
The Porsche 911 GT3 models, Roadshow explains, are the automaker’s ode to naturally-aspirated engines. The ‘base’ GT3 and wing-less GT3 Touring, Motor Trend reports, use a 4.0-liter flat-six that develops 500 hp and 339 lb-ft, and revs to 9000 RPM. The GT3 RS is even more powerful, with 520 hp and 346 lb-ft.
Technically, Porsche’s GT3 cars are set up for track use. Compared to the base 911, GT3 models get larger brakes, upgraded suspension, less sound-deadening, and a rear seat delete option, Car Throttle reports. Non-Touring examples also get a carbon-fiber rear wing and the option to upgrade the bolstered sport seats to carbon-fiber versions. However, you can still drive a Porsche 911 GT3 or GT3 Touring fairly comfortably on the road.
The Porsche 911 GT3 RS, though, is even more extreme. It weighs over 200 pounds less than a standard 911. That’s thanks to a titanium exhaust, carbon-fiber body panels, and a magnesium roof. There’s also a magnesium wheel option, and standard brake-cooling ducts. With less weight and more power, it’s faster than the standard GT3. Admittedly, only by 0.1 seconds over the PDK-equipped GT3, according to Car and Driver’s testing.
However, although the GT3 RS is the sharper track tool, the GT3, and GT3 Touring have one advantage. The RS is PDK-only, for maximum speed. The other two, though, come standard with a 6-speed manual, for better involvement.
The Porsche 911 GT2 RS
Unlike the GT3 models, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS uses turbos. It’s also PDK-only, as a manual would shift too slowly. If the GT3 is old-school 911 distilled, the GT2 RS is a 911 Turbo that’s been chugging Java Monsters.
The Porsche 911 GT2 RS’ 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six puts out 700 hp and 553 lb-ft. This power comes in a car that only weighs 100 pounds more than the GT3, Car and Driver reports. And unlike the Porsche 911 Turbo, the GT2 RS is RWD. 0-60 time is 2.7 seconds, which is EV-quick.
In 2018, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS set a production car record at MT’s Best Driver’s Car competition at Laguna Seca. It then set a record at Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap, ahead of the more powerful McLaren 720S and Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. That’s because the GT2 RS has the engineering specs to back its powers.
To achieve the weight savings, the GT2 RS uses Gorilla Glass and a titanium exhaust, along with optional magnesium wheels. Porsche even cut weight from the carpet and wiring. The adjustable anti-roll bars are made out of carbon fiber.
How do they compare?
Technically, the most-recent Porsche 911 GT3 and GT2 RS models are out of production. However, as the current-gen 911 evolves, they will inevitably return. In terms of pure budget, the GT3 is roughly $100,000 cheaper. Though considering it itself starts at about $190k, finances are presumably a non-issue.
The Porsche GT3 models can genuinely be driven on the road. True, the interior is relatively stripped-down. However, it still has A/C and navigation—even heated seats. But it’s also an incredible sports car. The clutch is light and easy to modulate, with a shifter that engages with a satisfying metallic sensation. Steering, Car and Driver reports, is “near telepathic [sic].” The RS, with its ball-jointed (no rubber) suspension, is honestly worthy of the phrase “street legal [sic] race car”, Jalopnik reports.
The GT2 RS, meanwhile, is arguably even better at delivering thrills. It’s faster, more powerful, but also more demanding. It won’t spin out on you quite like the early 911 Turbos. But going quickly requires paying attention to the tires, chassis, suspension, how the weight transfers, and so on. And yet, if you’re done with the adrenaline spikes, the Porsche GT2 RS is also an excellent luxury car. It has leather and suede, and touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay.
The Porsche 911 GT3 and GT2 trims, then, are opposite sides of the German car, taken to their extremes.
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