With the imminent release of the latest versions of the GT3 RS, the usual questions surface: how does it compare to the “plain” GT3, what does one get for the extra $45,000 and is it worth it?
First, A Few Straightforward Comparisons
What The Statistic Don’t Tell You
Power: From a technical standpoint, the major difference between the two cars is their engines. The RS version is packing a 4.0 liter flat six pumping out 25 more horsepower and 13 more ft/lbs of torque than the “plain” GT3. Does that really make that much of a difference? For driving tours and trips to the opera, no. Do you participate in Track Days? Do you care if you’re fastest off the corners and onto the straights? If you do, then it’s worth it.
Aerodynamics and general body appearance: The “plain” GT3 already looks pretty racy but has cleaner lines than its RS sibling. The RS version is far more aggressive due to its larger, rear wing, wider body, and numerous scoops and outlets. The car is designed for going harder and longer, which generates more heat. Generating more power and demanding more from brakes requires more air to both engine and brakes. But then that air has to go somewhere. On a normal street car air flow, for the most part, just stays under the car and since downforce/lift isn’t as important, that’s OK. For race-cars, and more serious track-day cars, managing that air can add dramatically to performance and the health of the overall system. Most notable on the latest version of the RS are the very large outlets on the front fenders. Porsche claim that letting all that air out improves downforce and cooling considerably. It also looks pretty cool when you attend Cars and Coffee.
Overall Performance: A couple sets of interesting numbers are those of the cars’ heights and their top speeds. Porsche shows the RS as being almost an inch taller and its top speed 2mph slower. Both numbers have meaning. The RS is taller because its rear tires are taller and wider. Presumably, its top speed is slightly slower because of the combined height and width of those big tires. I suppose if you’re at the drag strip, the “plain” GT3 would be the better car. For the track, go with the RS. The bigger tires and more aggressive aerodynamics will mean overall better grip and cornering, even if you give up some top speed.
Still no manual: After the last generation of GT3s, it was rumored that this one might reintroduce the manual transmission for those of us who still like to stab the clutch and wiggle the gear-shift lever. But no, Porsche had retained the PDK “option” only. Two reasons: first, as much as everyone says they want manual, buyers overwhelmingly voted in favor of PDK; two, as much fun as the clutch stabbing and lever wiggling are, a well-driven PDK is significantly faster in all track conditions. Important to remember: these are ego cars and ego drivers are not willing to get passed on track just so they can do the stabbing/wiggling thing.
Other cool stuff: The RS apparently has a “pit” button, similar to those on real race cars for controlling the speed in the pit lane. It also has track-driven options for racing-type seats, a roll-cage, battery disconnect, fire-extinguisher mount and six-point restraint systems.
The Porsche GT3 is designed for occasional use on the race track while the Porsche GT 3 RS is designed for occasional use on the road.
Which one for you?
I’ve always been of the opinion that when you reach these levels of spending, there are no considerations of dollars. You just get what you want. If you just want a great street car that’s also great on the track, then it’s the GT3. If you want to be the fastest at your local track day and have the baddest looking ride at Cars and Coffee, then it’s the RS. Or maybe you get both…. You’re more than likely going to drive your Macan to work anyway.
If you want to see even more of the nuances and differences between these two models, Porsche's own web-site has an excellent comparison tool. Once you go to Porsche's website, simply roll your mouse over the model you're interested in and click "compare". This will bring up a new window where you can then select up to 3 models to choose between.