Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 (997) Review
Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0. The best RS ever built?
Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 (997)
At the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, Porsche will unveil its all-new 911 - codenamed 991. But a small team inside the Zuffenhausen HQ has ensured the current 997 generation goes out with a bang. A 368kW/460Nm 4.0-litre bang.
Andreas Preuninger, boss of Porsche GT cars, claims the GT3 RS 4.0 is the "all-time classic RS. It might be the best RS we have ever built." With the RS at the pinnacle of 911 models, following that logic to its natural conclusion means the RS 4.0 might just be the best 911, and therefore, the best Porsche ever built.
Preuninger explained that the RS 4.0 was not part of the 997 development program. Instead, the idea came to him as he watched a 4.0-litre GT3 RSR racecar dominate the 2010 Nurburgring 24-hour (it won again in 2011). In fact, in preparation for the coming 991, Porsche had begun to dismantle the GT engine line and Preuninger had to convince the board to reinstate the line for this limited-edition run of 600 cars. All of which are sold and fewer than 10 will come to Australia, wearing a $409,100 sticker.
Not only is the RS 4.0 the last of the 997 models, its engine is the last road-going use of the classic Metzger flat six - an engine that has powered all GT3, GT3 RS and GT2 models.
The Metzger M97 engine also powered Porsche's 16th and last Le Mans winner, the GT1 of 1998. And like a grandfather's axe, this engine can, unlike the new direct-injection engine that powers non-GT models in the 997 line-up, trace its lineage back to the original Hans Metzger-designed air-cooled 911 engine from 1963.
Not surprisingly, the naturally-aspirated six dominates the drive experience. To put its stratospheric numbers into perspective, the RS 4.0 makes 173kW and 69Nm more than the same-capacity Ford Falcon atmo six-pot. On a German autobahn the engine is so flexible that it easily and rapidly accelerates in sixth gear from 40km/h to its gearing-limited 310km/h maximum.
The rest of the package builds on the already-fabulous GT3 RS 3.8, adding the rose-jointed rear suspension from the twin-turbocharged 456kW GT2 RS. The monster carbonfibre rear wing is set at an attack angle of nine-degrees (up from six in the 3.8 RS) and produces 195kg of downforce at 300km/h. In fact, Porsche needed to add small dive planes (Porsche calls them 'flics') on the corners of the front bar to balance the aero load.
Carbonfibre was used for the bonnet and front guards, plastic for the rear screen and rear side glass. Kerb weight is just 1360kg. That's as light as a Toyota Corolla sedan, but with nearly 500 horsepower.
The razor-sharp steering combines with phenomenal grip from the sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cups. Through sweepers on the autobahn at 250km/h, the RS 4.0 is rock solid. On tighter roads, once you've got the nose planted into a corner, you can open the throttle and unleash all 368kW. There's a hint of movement from the rear but power-down traction is beyond description.
Over an 1800km drive in France and Germany, much of it at very high speed, the RS 4.0 returned a parsimonious 13.3L/100km, impressively undercutting its combined cycle rating of 13.8.
With just 600 RS 4.0s to be built, this car has guaranteed collector status. In fact, it'll be twice as rare as the 1973 RS 2.7 (a car many consider to be the greatest Porsche ever). Not only do I agree with Andreas Preuninger that this is the greatest RS, but it's also the best car I've ever driven.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0
ENGINE: 3996cc flat 6, DOHC, 24v
POWER: 368kW @ 8250rpm
TORQUE: 460Nm @ 5750rpm
GEARBOX: 6-speed manual
0-100KM/H: 3.9sec (claimed)
TOP SPEED: 310km/h (claimed)
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