GT3 RS 4.0: The Last 997 Porsche

By Harrison Card

Yet another variation on the Porsche 911 theme.

The Porsche 911 takes a final lap in its last iteration.

Porsche doesn’t make very many models. On the other hand, this iconic German automaker produces a lot of variations on its very few models. Masters of racy sounding letters, Porsche has once again decided that the 911 needs a few more letters and numbers after its name. It also needs red wheels and a really big wing.

The 911 GT3 RS 4.0 is the latest, and supposedly last car in the current 911’s long line of confusing model differentiations. This is the second GT3 RS in the last 2 years. It gets a bigger engine though, and it’s really fast and somewhat of a limited edition. It’s already sold out, of course.

Multiple Flavors

The 911, now presently distinguished as the 997 generation, received a slight redesign in 2009, changing very little. Since then, 21 different, distinct models are or were available over the last two years. These blur the line between distinct models and trim packages. Still, it’s not without reason that magazines publish humorous guides to the 911 and its web of models. There’s a lot to share and this information is confusing.

Perhaps the most confusing of all 911s, the GT3 model, named for the FIA racing classification, offers a few subtle differences that make for an interesting lineup. The latest and of course greatest GT3 is thought to be the last of the line for the 997 chassis.

997 Origins

The 911 GT3 RS 4.0 is the third GT3 hailing from the second generation of the 997. Improving upon its stellar predecessors, the RS 4.0 gets, most importantly, a bigger engine. The new engine, 4-liters obviously, ads an extra 200 cubic centimeters to the standard 3.8 found in most 911s. The engine is naturally aspirated, as are all GT3 engines, and produces 500 horsepower and 340 foot-pounds of torque. That’s a boost of nearly 70 horsepower over the standard GT3 and 55 over the GT3 RS. That’s also a pretty significant power bump, and the GT3 was no slouch to begin with.

The 4.0 engine is of course, of the familiar Porsche flat-six layout. This is the last engine from the family designed by Hans Mezger. The basic construction has been around for more than a decade, and a racing version powered the 911 GT1 that won Le Mans in 1998.

Six-speed Shifter

The GT3 variant of the 911 appeals to serious drivers. Unlike the regular Carreras and Turbo variants, the only transmission is a six-speed manual. Unlike most modern supercars, the driver needs serious skill to get the most out of this car. The 4.0 features several new aerodynamic parts to help on the track. The rear wing, taken from the standard GT3, features a steeper angle, creating more down force.

The front end also gets aerodynamic tweaks including canards, an aerodynamic aid found on race cars. The suspension also gets a few revisions, most importantly, solid ball joints, which stiffen the chassis even more. Active engine mounts firm up when driven hard to keep the car stiff and when simply cruising, soften to reduce vibration.

Finish Line

The GT3 RS 4.0 is the last of the 997 Porsches. With a new 911 releasing soon, the 4.0 is a fitting finishing stroke, complete with a lot of commemorative badges and stickers.

Resources

Autoweek: New Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 Revealed!; April 26, 2011

Car and Driver: 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 – First Drive Review; Jans Meiner; June 2011

CNET: Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 has biggest engine offered for the 911; Suzanne Ashe; April 29, 2011

Motor Trend: First Drive: 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0; Pat Horrell; June 6, 2011

Top Gear: Porsche Announces 493bhp GT3 RS 4.0; Piers Ward; April 28, 2011

Photo: Porsche Cars North America, Inc.