5,000km in the new Porsche 991 GT3 RS – part three
Having started a 5,000km road trip in his new Porsche 991 GT3 RS at Zuffenhausen, Ronan McGrath quickly tracked his way to Zell am See. Now, in the final part of his road trip diary, McGrath christens the new Rennsport on track with a visit to the infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife.
So far the 991 GT3 RS has proved itself a pleasant, even rewarding drive on the public road. However, exceptional road behaviour is one thing – prowess on the Nürburgring is quite another.
Although over-exposed since the beginning of the YouTube era, it still remains the very pinnacle of track experience for any sports car. Weather here can be very unpredictable and, with multiple surfaces, blind turns, constant climbs and drops with little runoff area, it is not for the faint of heart in the wet. My first lap on the Nordschleife with the 991 was in driving rain and fog through the gloomy forest.
Compared to the 997.2 the difference was startling. Over the course of a few laps I ventured more into trail braking. The car ultimately understeered but in such a predictable and gradual way that it was very easy to correct. There is no sense of the four-wheel steering working, though the extra precision it provides is startling.
Rounding the slippery Esbach corner I found myself facing a car spun out right in my line, and the car responded perfectly to a sudden evasive maneouvre. Just as well – front end damage to this car will be eye-wateringly expensive compared to the regular GT3 due to the materials used.
The weather got worse and the Nordschleife closed but the Formula One track was open. With its huge runoff areas and almost no cars on track, it was possible to push well beyond sensible limits here.
Deliberately cornering far too hard, the back slides out – this car is not infallible – though when a spin would have occurred, the stability control kicked in. The intervention point is so late that it took deliberate abuse to find it.
Over the next two days there were some periods of dry weather, and grip on the track is the best I have ever experienced. The car, fitted with standard ‘big Red’ brakes, are more than adequate for the task with no fade, even after days of serious tracking.
Clearly, we are approaching the limits in terms of power in the naturally aspirated arena and the GT cars are the last ones left in the Porsche lineup. While Porsche has said they will continue to be produced, I have some doubts after the end of the 991 era.
This car is very quick, but not all that different from the Turbo S in reality. It just does it differently, with linear vivid response to the throttle without the harsh kick and whistle of a VTG setup.
I took this latest car to Hamburg to the superb Museum Prorotyp where some of the rarest Porsches are displayed. Here, I placed it beside the very first real Porsche, the 1939 Berlin-Rome Typ 64. The tiny 985cc car is 76 years old, and yet it was inarguably a Porsche. That’s the beauty of Porsche DNA.
Overall, I found the 991 to be tremendously communicative, a more practical road car for long distances, and yet a razor sharp track weapon at the same time. I have kept my 997.1 RS so as to have the ability to drive something with a clutch, no stability control, and a simple interior.
Much to the aggravation of some hardcore enthusiasts, there will be no more manual Rennsport. Yet, to me, the 991 is a better car in every way than the prior cars, except for one aspect: that sound again. A Mezger engine in full song remains, for me, the most perfect Porsche sound ever created.
To read our own comparison test of the 991 GT3 RS against its 997 rivals, pick up the latest issue of Total 911 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery or download it straight to your digital device.