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First look: Porsche's even harder-core GT3 RS rocks in

Track-focussed: Most powerful ever GT3 matches the upgraded 911 Turbo for top speed.

Porsche's upgraded 911 racecar for the road emerges, just days after the Turbo

20 Aug 2009

IT IS not the quickest or the fastest member of the formidable new 911 range, but the latest iteration of Porsche’s born-to-race GT3 RS Coupe appears set to serve up even more devastating racetrack performance than its celebrated forebears.

Officially pictured here for the first time, the motorsport-focussed version of the facelifted 997-series 911 emerges less than two weeks after the top-shelf 911 Turbo, which packs 368kW (500hp) from its bigger new 3.8-litre force-fed flat six.

While the 997 Series II GT3 was first revealed in January before debuting at this year’s Geneva motor show, the even lighter, more aerodynamic and more powerful RS version takes its performance to new heights.

Like the ‘standard’ GT3 that arrives in Australia in November, the limited-edition RS’s larger-capacity naturally-aspirated 3.8-litre boxer engine does without direct fuel-injection because it is the road-going homologation version of the 911 GT3 racecars that compete around the world, including in Porsche’s own Supercup and Carrera Cup championships.

Naturally, the limited-edition RS delivers even more performance than the GT3, and this time offers a specific output of 87kW per litre, which Porsche says makes it “unique in the world of naturally aspirated engines”. Its total power peak of 331kW is 11kW more than the GT3 and 26kW up on the 3.6-litre 997-series RS it replaces.

25 center imagePerformance figures have not been revealed, but the RS should easily eclipse the GT3’s claimed 4.1-second 0-100km/h acceleration (but not the 911 Turbo’s blistering 3.4-second pace), thanks in part to its exclusive close-ratio six-speed manual transmission, which may prevent the RS matching the 312km/h top speed of either car.

But it will be in the area of handling dynamics that the RS will again shine over even the GT3, courtesy of its lower ride height, a specific calibration for its Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system, even wider front and rear wheel tracks and a higher level of downforce from a massive carbon-fibre rear wing mounted on a pair of bespoke adjustable aluminium supports.

There is even the option of a lithium-ion battery, which Porsche claims reduces the RS’s unspecified kerb weight by more than 10kg compared with the conventional battery.

The latest GT3 RS will come standard with new dynamic engine mounts that vary the damping stiffness between engine and body. The new Porsche Active Drivetrain Mounts (PADM) are claimed to improve on-the-limit handling with no expense to everyday comfort by virtually eliminating mass and torque affects from the engine.

Unique front and rear bumpers with larger air intakes and an extra-light titanium sports exhaust system with dual centre rear outlets set the RS apart from the GT3, but the biggest surprise is the bright red front air-dam surround, wing mirrors, rear spoiler geurneys, bodyside decals and wheels.

The grey and red colour scheme continues inside, where grey-suede sports bucket seats contrast with a firetruck-red rollcage and racing harnesses.

Massive new wheels measure nine inches wide up front with 245/35 ZR19 sports tyres and a staggering 12 inches wide at rear with 325/30 ZR19 rubber, which is wide enough to require unique wheel-arch extensions.

The RS is likely to score the GT3’s larger-diameter brake discs with improved ventilation and the option of exclusively-specified PCCB ceramic brake discs. But it is unclear whether the RS will be available with the optional body-lift system that can be had with the 2010 GT3. Similar to the systems available in other supercars, it increases front ground clearance by a handy 30mm at the touch of a button.

The upgraded 911 Turbo Coupe and Cabriolet, which will make their simultaneous global public premiere alongside the RS at the Frankfurt motor show on September 15, will be launched globally in Portugal in mid-October before following the GT3 on sale here in early 2010.

First examples of the GT3 RS will arrive here soon after in April next year.

Pricing (and full specifications) is yet to be announced until, but expect the RS to be more be expensive than the 997 Series II GT3 (which is already on sale at $279,300 - up from its 2006 predecessor’s $253,200), as well as the previous GT3 RS, which arrived here only last April with a $304,400 pricetag.

Applying a similar $50,000-odd premium as before, the latest RS price could be as high at $330,000 - just as the 911 Turbo Coupe and Cabriolet will increase in price from the current model’s respective $361,100 and $386,800 pricetags.

But if you’re in the market for the raciest 911 road car you’d better be quick, because Porsche Cars Australia already holds 20 orders for the new RS and again expects its allocation to be a sell-out before the limited-edition model lands here.

Officially, only the wild rear-drive GT2 version of the newest 911 Turbo is yet to appear in facelifted guise, although Porsche is expected to release an even crazier version of the 997-generation 911, dubbed ‘GT2 Plus’, before the current model is replaced by the 998-series in 2011.

The current 997 GT2 is the most expensive Porsche available, at $447,500, easily out-pricing the upcoming Panamera Turbo ($364,900), so its successor could cost close to half a million dollars.

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