Driven - January 2019

Porsche 991.2 GT3 RS Driven

Porsche 991.2 GT3 RS Driven

You are old enough to remember the first GT3 and that impact that it had in the Porsche brand, but you are also too young to have driven it in its hay-day. The iterations after that, before the current one, have also escaped you but because you have been in the motoring game for some time and while you have had the opportunity of being in the passenger’s seat – sometimes in the drivers seats but being a privateers vehicle – there were no real opportunities to connect with the vehicle and hear the iconic flat-six motor ring out to the redline.

 

Fast forward to a hot and sunny day in the Cape winelands. The thirty-three-year-old version of yourself has the keys to a 991.2 GT3 RS PDK, with the additional Weissach package, and you have the ingredients for what turned out to be the best drive of 2018 and a vehicle that has shot up to the top-five vehicles that I have ever driven.

From the first time that I laid eyes on the Lizard Green Porsche GT3 RS, touched its paint and looked at those “thin as elastic bands” 20/21” wheels and tyres, I knew that it was going to be one of those special vehicles that I was going to remember for a very, very long time. As is customary for me, I opted to be a passenger for the first drive, just so that I can fully revel and be engulfed in the experience of the noises, the smells and the feeling that will be the lasting, tracing image that will be etched in my minds eye. But as I sat in the heavily bolstered racing seat, I ran into a problem. What most manufacturers won’t tell you, is that for you to fully be immersed into a vehicle with this sort of pedigree you also need to carry some sort of pedigree yourself that you get at your local Virgin Active. New dads like me with sympathy pregnancy weight need to stay far, far away from the optional five-point harness fitted to this vehicle, affectionally named “Lizard” not only because of the Paint code name, but because of the registration plate as well, LIZARD WP. This green monster fortunately had the normal three-point seatbelts too and after the cold startup, we were off.

From exiting Porsche Centre Cape Town, you feel like you are sitting just centimeters off the ground, which is the case, but without visibility ever being compromised as seeing out the GT3 RS is no issue whatsoever. After clearing morning traffic and not even getting a chance to see five thousand revolutions from that monster four-litre six-cylinder motor, we get on the freeway and head deeper into wine country. Finally, we get a chance for the GT3 RS to sing us the song of its people and, in a time where everything with four wheels and a combustion engine has some sort of forced induction, to hear a flat-six rev all the way to its red line at a fraction over nine thousand revs. It’s a noise to behold and one that we as the motoring public deeply thank the ladies and gentlemen from Stuttgart for giving us goosebumps from head to toe in 2018. We salute you. Soon after what feels like forever, we get to a coffee stop to which my co-driver and myself opt out of as we would rather be in the cockpit of the Green monster. It was my turn to tame the beast.

From the driver’s seat, even though the five-point harness does get in the way, the driving position is near perfect and the steering wheel, being not too thick or thin, comes right up to your chest. You really do have a position that you wish you could replicate in all cars. From the get-go, the steering comes alive and you often wonder what steering systems felt like before the electronic wizardry took over but being Porsche, the feeling is one of the best out there and you confidently place the front wheels where you want to as the front axle communicates every road surface change to the palms of your hands and you are finding grip in places where it shouldn’t exist.

Off into the winding horizon, the flat-six just hanging out on the rear axle, you are taken a back with the amount of mechanical grip from the rear as the front never feels nervous or that it’s about to take off, and what you have is a racing car for the street that strokes your ego. The GT3 RS makes you look like such an accomplished driver. Keeping the driving experience at eight tenths, you actually feel the GT3 RS looking back at you and coaching you, “we could have done that corner faster”, “Trail brake into this hairpin so we can blast it out”, “I won’t oversteer here so you can bury the throttle, I’ve got this”. This is one vehicle that you feel part of, and not like other supercars that want to kill you at every corner. This is the most communicative and visceral car I have driven in recent years and was sad to hand back the keys when we stopped for lunch.

Now that we had had time to take the whole experience in, grab a bite to eat and have the vehicle swarmed by on-lookers, we looked back at the vehicle and felt that we, the drivers, are in good hands with Porsche. Belonging to the motoring scribe community and having read all that was said about the first version of the 911 GT3, it was quite obvious for me to see that the people yearned for a manual. After some tweaks, Porsche, the manufacturer, remember, listened and gave the public what they wanted. This is the same manufacturer that when developing this glorious motor decided to keep it naturally aspirated so as to keep it the most involving, rewarding and confidence inspiring vehicle amongst its siblings. And to add the cherry on the cake, we hear that the new one has a great chance of keeping to this current recipe! I know that I don’t count for much, but thank you Porsche. Thank you for continuing to make cars for the petrolhead in all of us, we appreciate you!

After lunch, we were, give or take, three hundred kilometers away from our rendezvous point from Porsche Centre Cape Town and took the opportunity to go hunt for the Huguenot tunnel on our way back. The Porsche 991.2 GT3 RS obliged and there we were, in outskirt Western Cape roads chasing a tunnel just to amplify the noise from the 368 kW motor before we had to give ‘LIZARD WP’ back to be readied for the next couple of journalists who would do the same for the next week. The GT3 RS is a vehicle that needs to be celebrated. It’s a vehicle that fully envelopes you in the driving experience and leaves you wanting more and more. Yes, it’s not perfect, but besides the price tag – R5,2 Million as ‘LIZARD WP’ is specced – and the fit racing driver seatbelts, I couldn’t put my finger on any ‘faults’ as it were, especially when one takes it for what it is. Even after almost two months since this epic vehicle was returned to safety, in the quiet parts of some night, my ears still hear that sonorous flat-six ringing all the way to nine thousand revs a minute – what an experience! #GoFundRichardForaGT3RS