Porsche GT3 RS 3.6 Driving Review by Stefan Chaligne
My first Porsche RS was a 964 from 1992, with no radio, no air conditioning, no electric windows and with windows and carpet as thin as a 10,000 meter runner. Years later, in 2007, I decided to go for a Porsche RS again. The Porsche GT3 RS 3.6 is one of the first water cooled engine, the elite of the Zuffenhausen mark, followed the 993 RS, the last of a long series of air-cooled engines. I have omitted the 2004 996 GT3 RS on purpose, which in my eyes does not qualify due to its tear-drop headlights and its cheap finish.
One must understand that a Porsche RS is really a different kind of Porsche, even if in appearance it is close to a standard 911. Porsche « Motorsport » is the competition department which makes a small number of road cars in addition to its main production of pure racing cars. It is therefore the closest a car lover can get to buy a racing car; a unique opportunity in the sense that competing brands only offer partial or imperfect modifications to their basic models. To sum up, one horse power from Porsche Motorsport is in no way comparable to one from Porsche; there are hundreds of hours of development and modification in between the two.
It was therefore in a state of high excitement that I went to the large Porsche dealership on the outskirts of Paris to order my new toy. Surprisingly, what should have been a convivial moment turned into a battle of arguments. I refused to tick the options; hi-fi, leather interior, floor carpets, air conditioning…. « your car will be unsalable sir and we will be unable to exchange it against a new one ». The message was clear, I was supposed to weigh down my future RS to make it more liquid, to make a travesty of its genetic identity in order to improve the Stuttgart balance sheet.
I refused to give in so that the magnificent 415 horsepower engine with its titanium connecting rods, developed by the engineer Metzger, could express its full capacity. It is true that the central console is a move away from the car’s initial simplicity, but the wonderful fireproof carbon seats redress the balance. The extreme precision of the direction is an incentive to excellence in driving technique I have yet to achieve. In fact the car soon makes your realize how modest your ambition is, when the maximum curve entering speed in a curve is several dozen km/h than yours. The suspension is miraculous. How have Porsche Motorsport been able to combine such comfort with such precise road handling ? The car absorbs shock and remains close to the road and does not give up during extreme compressions.
The gear box is a major talking point. Why talk today about the RS 3.6 after the 3.8 and the 4.0 have come out with 35 and 85 horsepower more respectively ? For a simple reason, the 3.6, which came out in 2007, offers the driver very long gears which are a delight on the open road. It is just the contrary of the 3.8 and 4.0 which are racing circuit cars that have been made compatible for the road with gears that constantly need changing. The 3.6 is a fantastic Porsche for the road allowing one to keep it in 4th gear between 140 and 230 km/h on a German motorway and to be able to enjoy the full extent of a racing engine with endless acceleration capacity. This long gear box is a faux pas for racing circuit drivers, but it is a benediction for those who are able to let it go on an open road.
Nowadays the GT3 RS is extremely reasonable with a 50% discount for a car with a low mileage. It has no equivalent and even the impressive 430 Scuderia with 90 more horsepower cannot provide the same mechanical pleasure. Evo, the well respected car magazine, is spot on in placing the Porsche GT3 RS in front of the Ferrari. In fact, with this car Porsche is at the height of its mechanical art, whereas the Ferrari has already entered the digital age. It is a question of philosophy.