2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
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First Drive: 2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS Review

Outrageous, otherworldly performance. Canada Drives heads to Towcester, UK to put Porsche’s $248,000 hard-core, road-legal performance coupe to the test – gaining more power, reduced weight, and much more for 2023.

Key Features:

  • Advanced aerodynamic features
  • Fully adjustable dampers
  • Incredible handling

Direct Competitors:

  • McLaren 600 LT
  • BMW M2 Competition
  • Mercedes AMG GT-R

How does one go about improving one of the world’s best-handling sports cars? Well, if you’re Porsche you start with the 911– whose teardrop shape and sublime balance, even in its purest, base form, have elevated it to icon status among driving enthusiasts.

Tweak and massage the suspension, reduce weight, increase horsepower, and repeat in various degrees of intensity until you’ve got a model range that tops out at the 911 GT3 RS – a hard-core performance coupe that’s one of the best track cars on the planet. 

2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS | Photo: Lesley Wimbush 

First introduced in 2003, the GT3 RS is the closest thing to a full-on racecar, while still retaining road-legal status. It draws on Porsche’s rich history of racetrack wins, using technology refined over seven decades to produce the fastest, most capable 911 in their line-up. How do you improve upon that?

A race-bred 911 with road-legal status and twice as much downforce of the outgoing GT3

Instead of upping the power output of the GT3 RS (it still uses the familiar 4.0 litre flat-six, but mildly tweaked) Porsche decided to push the limits of grip beyond anything we’ve seen from a production vehicle to date. Throw 700 hp at any car and it will be fast in a straight line, but most races are won – or lost – in the turns.

The most important factor in any successful performance car is how flat it can corner and how well it sticks to the track while doing so. The sticky part comes courtesy of 20” front, and 21” rear Michelin Cup 2 R tires, the largest tires ever fitted to a 911. But it’s the sheer amount of downforce that makes this new GT3 an engineering wonder. The 2023 GT3 has twice as much downforce of the outgoing car, and triple that of the current GT3.

2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS | Photo: Lesley Wimbush 

While the new car still retains the characteristic teardrop shape, it’s been tweaked and exaggerated to maximize airflow. Giant nostrils on the hood draw in cooling air, while bladed inlets reduce pressure at the wheel arches and keep the brakes cool. 

A pair of roof fins deflect any air flowing up over the doors, redirecting it over the top of the car and into the rear air ducts, where it feeds the engine. At the rear is an enormous swan necked wing that’s 40% larger than the regular GT3’s, boasts 34 degrees of adjustment range, and for the first time in a road-legal production car, employs the “drag reduction system” (DRS) used in Formula One racing.

Rear wings are nothing new, but engineers have struggled to come up with a way to match that downforce at the front of the car. Porsche came up with an ingenious method of balancing out that rear downforce by eliminating the two side radiators under the hood, and installing a pair of hydraulically activated wings. Tucked away under the hood, they sit directly in the path of incoming air without creating the drag of a bumper mounted element.

Even the double wishbone front suspension has been tweaked to improve airflow, with a spiralling, organic profile to its diameter.

2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS | Photo: Lesley Wimbush 

To complement its advanced aero technology, the GT3 RS now features fully adjustable dampers and torque vectoring. No more jacking the car up between lapping sessions to adjust the shocks for track conditions – using the steering wheel located dials, the driver can adjust rebound and compression levels for front and rear suspension (up to plus or minus four settings), and choose how much torque vectoring assist he wants in the corners. 

Same naturally-aspirated flat-six engine from the 911 GT3 – but with more RS power

Power output comes from the sublime 4.0 litre naturally-aspirated flat-six found in the 911 GT3, but new camshafts crank the power up to 518 hp from 502. It also retains the six individual throttle bodies, one per cylinder. Like all of Porsches RS badged cars, the engine is mated to a seven-speed PDK because everything on this car is focused on getting maximum speed – and no human can possibly shift as quickly. 

The gearbox’s shorter overall gear ratio helps the new GT3 RS to sprint from 0-60mph in only 3.0 seconds – 0.2 seconds faster than the regular GT3. Air intakes on the underbody cladding help cool the transmission to help it withstand extreme track use.

2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS | Photo: Lesley Wimbush 

Through the spokes of forged magnesium wheels are six-piston monobloc fixed-caliber brakes, and 408 mm discs. Thickness of the rotors increases from 34 to 36 mm. The rear axle is equipped with the same 380 mm rotors and four-piston fixed caliber brakes as the regular GT3 variant. Available are Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) with 410 mm rotors for an eye-watering $11,540.

2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS pricing and competitors

This kind of performance doesn’t come cheap. Base price in Canada for the 2023 Porsche GT3 RS is $248,000. As driven, our tester topped out at $312,970.

The Mercedes Benz AMG GT-R starts at $199,900, the BMW M2 $71,750. But the McLaren 600LT starts at $298,500 which makes the Porsche seem like a relative bargain.

Performance and driving impressions

2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS | Photo: Lesley Wimbush 

We’re invited to try the new GT3 RS at Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix and a 5.8 km circuit that's known as a high downforce circuit. It’s a wide, looping track with plenty of corners, late apexes and blistering fast straights. 

The GT3 RS fires up with a gruff bark, which increases to an intoxicating wail at speed. The track conditions are good, but considering our time out there is limited, we’ve left the suspension settings at a neutral 0 percent front and rear. The previous day’s session endured heavy rainfall, which required softer settings. Drivers who want more rotation in the corners can play with the compression and increase rear stiffness. 

It doesn’t take long to realize that this is an immensely capable car that encourages the driver to brake later and get back on the throttle sooner and harder. The level of grip is astonishing, and seemingly no rebound and recovering after braking. It’s a ferocious car that only gets better the harder it’s pushed.

While we’ve driven most of Porsche’s lineup on a variety of racetracks and found them so well-balanced and forgiving they can make the average driver look good – this car really deserves an experienced driver to perform the way it’s supposed to. There’s a learning curve with the adjustable suspension system, and time, patience and not a small amount of skill needed to truly understand the physics at play. 

2023 911 GT3 RS interior

2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS | Photo: Lesley Wimbush 

While everything in the GT3 RS’s cabin is focused on putting the driver in the optimized position for driving, the surfaces are well-crafted and of high quality. Our tester boasts $5400 worth of leather with GT silver stitching and full bucket seats.

An eye-watering $38,250 Weissach package is available that adds lightweight Magnesium wheels, and carbon fibre trim to the wing, hood, roof, and in other markets, a carbon fibre roll cage. While altogether the package cuts nearly 30 lbs of weight overall, the GT3 RS can’t be purchased with a roll bar in Canada.

Just in case you get sick of listening to the glorious wail of the flat six behind your back, there’s an $1800 Bose Sound system available.

2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS | Photo: Lesley Wimbush 

Verdict: Is the 2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS worth it?

If you’re fulfilled by a beautiful day exploring the twisties behind the wheel of a well-balanced sports car –– you’d probably be better off buying a Carrera GTS. But if you’re a seasoned driver whose weekends are spent at the track, the newest Porsche 911 GT3 RS is going to blow you away. 

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