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911 GT3 RS 3.6 – 381 ch [2004]

Video: Porsche 996 GT2 v GT3 RS – our verdict

In issue 143, the two flagship Mezger-engined Porsche 996s went head-to-head. Now Lee gives his verdict. Will it be Rennsport or turbocharging that wins him over?

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Mounted in some of the finest water-cooled Porsche 911s ever made, the venerable ‘Mezger’ engine worked its way in Zuffenhausen legend during its 13-year tenure.

Unlike some Zuffenhausen icons, it did not take long for famed flat six – renowned for its razor-sharp throttle response and machine gun howl – to make its mark on Porsche’s faithful band of enthusiasts.

Introduced under the decklid of the first generation Porsche 996 GT3, the Mezger was thrust firmly into the limelight, its celebrity status only enhanced by its installation in the 996 GT3 RS and the turbocharged 996 GT2.

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In many ways, the first water-cooled generation of Neunelfer is responsible for cementing the Mezger mythology, one of the reasons why we chose to celebrate the iconically-engined Porsche 996s in issue 143 of Total 911.

Among the brace of GT3s and the hugely popular Turbo, the stars of our Porsche 996 cover shoot were undoubtedly the 996 GT3 RS and GT2, pitted head-to-head in a test of turbocharged might versus Rennsport agility.

Now, in our latest video, you can watch Total 911 Editor, Lee come to a definitive verdict. Which form of Mezger will he choose? You’ll just have to watch in order to find out.

 

For more of the best and latest Porsche films, check out our dedicated video section now. To read our ‘Best of 996’ feature, download Total 911 issue 143 straight to your digital device today.

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Best of the Porsche 996

There are two core elements that create a collectable 996-generation 911. The first is the obvious requirement of rarity. Limited numbers 911s always make the cut. The second is the Mezger engine.

This core element, carried over and constantly evolved and updated through the timeline of the 911, creates a tempo, a personality that utterly transforms the 996.

At a moment in the 911’s history when the faithful may have wavered in the face of a water-cooled car, the Mezger-engined 911s showed that Porsche still understood its enthusiast driver market. They are and always will be something special, as Total 911 finds out when putting all five dry-sumped 996s to the test.

996 GT2 v 996 GT3 RS
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For anyone investing in Mezger-engined 996 Porsches, the GT3 RS has long been the default choice. Iconic in appearance and exceptionally rare, the 996 GT3 RS was a collectable for Porsche enthusiasts well before the current global 911 collecting phenomenon.

But there are other 911s of that era produced in limited numbers that are equally collectable, just as challenging to drive, and in some ways could be more satisfying to own.

We are talking, of course, about the 996 GT2 – and with both cars currently commanding the same money in the Porsche marketplace, suddenly a GT2 vs GT3 RS is a 996 showdown many serious buyers may look to ponder over.

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Introduced in 2001 and intended for those who felt the 996 Turbo was just too civilised, the GT2 uses essentially the same engine as the Turbo but with larger KKK K24 turbochargers.

Together with uprated intercoolers, a revised exhaust system and ECU, the maximum power increased to 468bhp. The huge torque figure of 620Nm at just 3,500rpm was all delivered to the rear wheels only and the ever-reliable Porsche Stability Management was deleted. With the GT2 it’s all down to you.

The fact that almost every 996 GT2 that I’ve seen is finished in Basalt black makes the Porsche development engineer’s nickname for the car of ‘widowmaker’ particularly apt, as we walk over to the stunning GT2 Clubsport in our pictures.

To read our celebration of Mezger-engined Porsche 996s, pick up Total 911 issue 143 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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Porsche 996 GT3 RS revisited – The advent of the modern-era RS

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Porsche’s latest GT3 RS is a fantastic drivers’ car – here’s where the modern RS lineage began

If you haven’t read our review of the latest Porsche 911 GT3 RS, now is the time to do so. The car is predictably spectacular, mixing all the usual 911 qualities with extra performance, poise, grip and, importantly, steering feel.

These are all qualities that have come to represent the range-topping RS models of each 911 generation, first represented in the modern era by the 996 GT3 RS, which was launched in 2003. But even that model’s roots go further back, first to the debut of the 996 itself in 1997 and then to the first GT3 of 1999.

The former was the first 911 to sport a watercooled engine. The latter was also water-cooled, but its legendary 3.6-litre ‘Mezger’ unit was more similar to that of the Porsche 962’s racing engine than it was the recently-introduced 3.4 of the Carrera. GT3 models also shed weight through reduced sound insulation material, the deletion of rear seats, air conditioning and various other treatments.

Customers could reinstall some of these lost trinkets, but they could also specify a Clubsport package that introduced a half-roll-cage, a six-point harness for the fixed-back Recaro driver’s seat, a single-mass flywheel and fire extinguisher. This, more than anything else, set the scene for the RS that would follow four years later.

In the interim, Porsche had facelifted the 996, swapping its ‘fried egg’ headlights for something a little sharper, and the GT3’s styling had also changed. This model formed the basis of the 996.2 GT3 RS. Its fixed rear wing grew to race car proportions, extra vents appeared at the top of the front bumper and racing stripes with GT3 RS script adorned the car’s flanks – they were colour-matched to distinctive alloy wheels of 8.5 x 18in up front and 11.5 x 18in at the rear.

These were wrapped in 235/40 ZR18 Pirelli P Zero Corsas at the front and matching 295/30 ZR18 tyres at the rear. The suspension was optimised over the regular GT3 too. Mounting points changed and the mounts themselves were stiffer, with FIA homologation in mind. There was a more extensive roll-cage than Clubsport-equipped GT3s too, yet weight dropped by 50kg to 1330kg.

Reduced mass was advantageous to the car’s performance, since power and torque remained identical to the 996.2 GT3. Maximum outputs of 375bhp at 7400rpm and 284lb ft from 5000rpm look insignificant next to the latest RS’s 493bhp and 339lb ft, but they still carried the RS to 60mph in 4.2 seconds and on to 190mph.

As ever, it was the nature rather than the quantity of the performance that defined the RS experience. The regular 996.2 GT3 was a spectacular car but still disappointed in some areas – it didn’t quite flow like the original GT3 and featured the once-familiar 911 ‘bobbing’ at the front axle in certain road conditions.

The RS corrected these foibles. The bob was banished thanks to firmed springs and dampers, yet the suspension retained a degree of pliancy. Richard Meaden, driving the RS in evo 068, takes up the story:

‘The controls are a model of tactile consistency. The brakes have hard, linear bite, and the gearshift slides with tight, defined precision.’ Former evo motoring editor John Barker was also positive. ‘The steering wheel is a bit big but the feel through it is superb and the nose tucks in with an alacrity missing from the current GT3.’ There was little wrong with the engine to begin with, with precise throttle response and ‘howling’ top-end power.

In that same issue, the RS comfortably toppled its assembled rivals, all of which were there to represent driving purity – the Lotus Exige S2, Noble M400 and even a Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale. Indeed, we went as far as hinting that it might be the ‘perfect car’ from a purely evo perspective, though we never got to test that theory as the 996 GT3 RS never actually featured in an evo Car of the year test.

The same cannot be said for subsequent GT3 RS models. In 2007, the first-generation 997 GT3 RS took victory, ahead of the Ferrari 430 Scuderia and Audi R8. Then, in 2010, the second-gen 997 GT3 RS once again beat Italian competition in the form of the Ferrari 458 Italia. The blistering RS 4.0 repeated this feat a year later.

In other words, the RS has walked away with victory in every eCoty in which one has competed – and regular GT3s have taken further victories in 2003 and 2013. This year’s eCoty is currently in the planning stage, and drawing up a shortlist is more difficult than ever. The latest GT3 RS is by no means guaranteed victory given some of our possible contenders, but if historical precedence is anything to go by, those contenders have a real fight on their hands.

As for the 996 GT3 RS, its place in history is already secured. Rarity, status and ability have already led to soaring prices. It’s not unusual to find examples on sale for far more than a brand-new 991 GT3 RS commands (£131,296), and those numbers are only likely to climb unless the bottom falls out of the prestige car market.

> Find Porsche 996s for sale on Classic and Performance Car

It’s great news for existing owners, though their desire to take their machines on track may wane as values climb. But for less-moneyed enthusiasts, the cars will soon be as far out of reach as other iconic 911s like the 2.7 RS and 964 RS. The former have already crested half a million pounds, the latter is close to the £200,000 mark.

If you need any further excuse to get behind the wheel of the latest GT3 RS, it’s that it’s sure to be another appreciating asset, given enough time – even if it’s only supplied with a PDK transmission and retains electrically-assisted steering. Just don’t forget to enjoy its talents in the meantime.

Read: 2015 Porsche 911 GT3 RS review


Antony Ingram

28 May 2015
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Poll: What is your favourite generation of Porsche 911 RS?

There have been 11 different Porsche 911 RS variations since the famous ‘Rennsport’ moniker was introduced for 1973. The have become some of the most sought after models in the 911 range and, in a few months, the 991 generation is expected to be bolstered by the 991 GT3 RS’s arrival.

Now, we want you to choose your favourite Rennsport Porsche 911 from the last 42 years. Voting will close on 13 January with the results published in issue 123 of Total 911 so get voting now!


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Porsche 911 GT3 RS: Past, present and future

Porsche 911 GT3 RS

The history of an evo favourite

Turbo models might sit atop the Porsche 911 tree in terms of power and expense, but it’s the GT3 and even more focused GT3 RS models that really illustrate what Stuttgart’s engineers are capable of.

The latest 991-based car has recently been spotted in a car park in the automaker’s hometown, giving a clue as to its upgrades over the standard GT3 – evo’s Car of the Year in 2013.

RS beginnings: The RS 2.7

The RS (‘RennSport’, or ‘racing sport’ in English) lineage began with the Carrera RS 2.7 of 1973, its lightweight build and race-bred engine pointing the way for future models carrying the badge.

Performance, for its day, was staggering: 0-60mph in 5.6sec, 100mph in 12.8sec and 150mph at the top end. RS models were visually apparent by a small ducktail spoiler on the rear deck and a lower, deeper front splitter.

Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7

Carrera script was pasted along the sills, its colour replicated on the distinctive Fuchs alloy wheels. Inside, the RS’s cabin was Spartan, even by the standards of modestly-equipped contemporary 911s.

996 GT3 RS

Several models have since carried the RS moniker, but in the modern era it was the 996 GT3 RS of 2003 that revived the name. Based on the 996 GT3, the RS featured an upgraded 381bhp version of the ‘Metzger’ racing engine.

In its basic form, the water-cooled flat-six was developed for Porsche’s 1990s GT1 racing models, and has since become legendary in Porsche circles through its installation in GT3 models.

Uprated springs and dampers replaced those of the regular GT3, with a high-downforce rear wing and distinctive decals paying homage to those on the 1973 RS.

997 GT3 RS

A GT3 RS version of the Porsche 997 followed, once again eclipsing the standard GT3 – unique features included a plastic rear window to aid weight reduction and a wider track for greater grip and stability.

The 997 GT3 RS reached its zenith with the GT3 RS 4.0 of 2011 – a 493bhp road-going racer capable of 62mph in 3.9sec, brushing 193mph and limited to just 600 examples worldwide.

As the pinnacle of 911 development at the time, it was an obvious inclusion in evo’s 2011 Car of the Year test, and duly walked away with the title against stiff competition – 2011’s Algarve-based eCotY also saw debuts from the McLaren MP4-12C, BMW 1M Coupe and Porsche’s own Cayman R.

991 GT3

The latest generation of GT3 broke the traditional mould in several areas. Out was the manual gearbox, in favour of a seven-speed PDK. Also dropped was hydraulic power assisted steering, replaced by an electric setup.

The ‘Metzger’ engine was also finally replaced, its 3.8-litre successor producing 468bhp at a screaming 8250rpm. A spate of engine failures caused by faults in an external supplier’s part sullied its early reputation but there’s little doubt the 991 GT3 provides the perfect basis for an RS model.

991 GT3 RS: What we know

Details on the latest car are limited to those apparent from the hastily-grabbed Instagram images posted online, but the new car is notable for its sizeable rear wing, deeper front spoiler and pressure-reducing vents in the front wings.

Inside, a set of 918 Spyder-inspired seats is also visible, with a yellow strip denoting the top of the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel.

If previous RS models are anything to go by, it’s likely the new car will also feature several weight-reducing elements – perhaps including a plastic rear screen – an extra injection of power and some unique colour scheme and decal options.

No set release date has been announced either, but best indications point to a launch at the Geneva motor show in March.


Antony Ingram

6 Jan 2015
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