Throwback Thursday: Porsche 991 GT3 RS vs rivals

At its most reductive, the idea that certain activities can “make you feel alive” is a peculiar one, especially when you consider the flipside; I have certainly never done anything that has made me feel dead. Yet this supposedly tangential notion is never more evident to me than when I am out on a racetrack, pushing a car to its limits.

The often delicate and sometimes brutal dance on the edge of adhesion from corner to corner is enough to get thousands of petrolheads’ pulses racing. It is a sensation that is intrinsically woven into the fabric at Zuffenhausen and it is, therefore, the key ingredient in what is undoubtedly the 911’s most exciting and renowned subdivision: Rennsport.

Based near the race teams in Weissach, Andreas Preuninger’s GT cars department are the current custodians of this legendary moniker. This crack squad of engineers has proven that they truly understand what is needed to create an enthralling Neunelfer experience, with a track-focussed character that is equally captivating out on the open road.

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Nowhere is this more apparent than in the 997 generation of GT3 RSs. From the 3.6-litre, first generation iteration to the instantly iconic 997 GT3 RS 4.0, Preuninger’s team never missed a beat between 2006 and 2010, somehow managing to improve on perfection with each revision

The culmination of this work was the aforementioned 4.0-litre Rennsport – a car that we concluded in issue 125 was “the king of kings”. Now though, the RS ranks have been bolstered with a new 3,996cc pretender to the RS 4.0’s throne.

The 991 GT3 RS is, on paper, the antithesis of the 997’s analogue thrills: a PDK gearbox in place of the lauded six-speed manual shifter, a flat six based (loosely) on the Carrera’s 9A1 engine rather than the motorsport-derived Mezger, and rearwheel steering in place of the previously passive back axle.

These changes have made the latest RS devastatingly effective – our first drive in issue 128 proved as much – and hugely coveted, just like its 4.0-litre 997 forebear.

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That was in isolation though; context is key here, which is why we have gathered both 4.0-litre Rennsports (as well as both previous generations of the 997 GT3 RS) together for the ultimate test on track and road.

As a supposed standard production model, the 991 is intended to be the successor to the 3.8-litre 997.2 GT3 RS. However, I’m going to start with the RS 4.0. After all, to paraphrase De La Soul, “four is the magic number”, especially in the world of water-cooled Porsches.

When it was released in 2010, I couldn’t believe that the 997 GT3 RS 4.0 was road legal. More so than any Rennsport before it, it looked like a race-ready 911. Those dive planes and that rear wing (taken straight from the 997 GT3 Cup car) have never failed to catch my attention. Yet, sat alongside its successor, my gaze is very quickly diverted towards the 991.

To read our Porsche 991 GT3 RS vs rivals group test in full, order your copy of Total 911 issue 136 online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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