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Here's Why the GT3 RS Is the Ultimate Porsche 911

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2017

For many people, the Porsche 911 is not particularly exciting or interesting. People think all Porsche 911 models look the same. "Like a Volkswagen Beetle!" these people say, and then they chuckle to themselves for making possibly the most overused joke in the entire history of the automobile, except for those people who approach DeLorean owners on the street and ask if it has a flux capacitor.

In some cases, you can see what these people mean: The 911 does have a lot of variants, and many are similar in both performance and design.

The GT3 RS is not one of those cases.

I discovered this last weekend when I traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in order to drive the Porsche 911 GT3 RS you see above, which I borrowed from a viewer named Mike -- a recently delivered 2016 model painted Ultra Violet, Porsche's hilarious name for its purple exterior color, with gorgeous yellow stitching on the inside and even more yellow stitching added later, courtesy of a company called Exclusive Option. The base price of a GT3 RS is around $177,000; this sticker price of this one was more like $220,000.

Two-hundred and twenty grand. That's a long way from the $90,500 base price of a base-level 911 Carrera. But then again, this is the ultimate 911.

You start to get the sense that it's the ultimate 911 with a quick look on paper. A base-level 911 has 370 horsepower; the GT3 RS has 500. The GT3 RS sheds 22 pounds from the standard GT3, which is already a sort of ultimate 911 in its own right. It does 0-to-60 in 3.1 seconds. Production is limited to a few lucky Porsche customers (Mike is on his third new 911). It'll hit 195 miles per hour. And it posts a 7-minute, 20-second Nurburgring lap time, which places it ever so slightly ahead of the Ferrari 488 GTB.

Then there's all the "ultimate" stuff you notice when you first see the thing. The rear wing is so large I honestly think I could slide my entire body beneath it if I wanted to climb up the back of the car. The rear seats have been removed. Everything is carbon fiber. There's no sunroof. There are no heated seats. There are center-lock wheels. The front brake rotors are 16.1 inches in diameter -- larger than every single wheel option on a Nissan Versa. To save weight, the badges are decals, not actual emblems. There are blank switches everywhere. And then there's my favorite feature: a button marked "PIT SPEED" that lets you set a speed limit the car won't violate when you're in a racetrack's pit lane.

You don't get a "PIT SPEED" button in your Acura MDX.

But you don't truly get a sense of just how special the GT3 RS really is until you climb behind the wheel. I've driven a lot of exciting sports cars and ultra-fast exotics, but I've never really felt as confident in a car I've ever driven as I did when I was piloting the GT3 RS. You get in this car and you instantly feel like the professional driver you absolutely aren't; you get the sense that there's no way anyone could possibly lose control of one of these things and crash it.

Put more simply: The GT3 RS is not the fastest car I've driven. But it's the car that makes me feel like I could confidently drive it the fastest. And, frankly, one could argue that's more important than the car's actual performance numbers.

Part of the reason you feel so confident is, oddly enough, the fact that the GT3 RS is "just" a Porsche. When you're in so many exotic cars, you feel the weight of the car, and you can't see out the back, and you're looking out over a bright orange hood or a crazy gauge cluster that ensures you'll never forget that you're driving a Ferrari, Lamborghini or McLaren. You quickly become intimidated by it. In the GT3 RS, its ties to a "regular" 911 are actually a benefit: You feel like you're only a step removed from the 996 that your buddy picked up for twenty-five grand from a guy in Omaha. You don't feel like you'll destroy it if you're too hard on it or ruin it if you drive it too much. It doesn't feel fragile. It feels like you can beat on it in a way that you'd never truly feel comfortable with if it had come from a factory in Italy.

The GT3 RS's other most impressive quality is how well it fits the driver. This one is a bit hard to explain -- but Mike, the car's owner, summed it up perfectly when he said that climbing behind the wheel feels like you're Iron Man putting on his suit. When you're in the GT3 RS, you are the GT3 RS. It goes exactly where you want it to. You know exactly how big it is. It's almost telepathic.

Are there drawbacks to this thing? Sure. You won't get noticed like you do in an Italian exotic -- for better or worse. To me, that's a benefit -- but most people who spend $220,000 for a car want to see the camera phones come out when they're stopped at a light. Oddly, I think the Huracan's steering felt a little quicker and more precise -- and its engine a little more explosive. And the GT3 RS's ground clearance is almost humorous; Mike used the axle-lifting system to go over virtually every speed bump.

But these drawbacks are minor, and they certainly don't change my opinion of the GT3 RS. In fact, I drive a lot of cars in my line of work, and people are always asking me the same question: What's the best one? It's too hard to narrow it down, so I usually rattle off a list of three or four cars. The GT3 RS is now on that list.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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Here's Why the GT3 RS Is the Ultimate Porsche 911 - Autotrader