2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 First Drive Review: Last of the Mezgers
In honor of the life of Hans Mezger, we republish our first drive of the Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 in June 2011, the model that says goodbye to the famous Mezger engine in Porsche road cars.
Porsche produces so many out-of-print editions of 911 that collectors should now feel quite embarrassed. There’s the 911 Carrera 4 GTS, the 911 Black Edition Cabriolet, the 911 Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder – the list goes on. It seems that every combination of specification and paint becomes a model in its own right. We’re just waiting for a Turbo Targa Orange Stripe rear-wheel drive narrow body edition.
Instead, comes the real deal. Not just the latest 911 in the 997 series, but the ultimate RS and the swan song on the go for the gorgeous flat-six Mezger. The 911 GT3 RS 4.0. . . this is what we call a classic car.
It does not only contain a mix’n’match of the best body, aero and chassis settings of the existing GT3 RS and GT2 RS, as well as competition parts in the suspension. Oh no, that would be the usual naughty Porsche. This time you get a real new engine. A naturally aspirated 493 horsepower 8,500 rpm howler who just wants to propel this sled of less than 3,000 pounds at 100 miles an hour in less than eight seconds.
While all traditional 911s now have an entirely different flat-six (even the Turbo), Porsche Motorsport’s Mezger engine powers the 911 GT3 and GT2 models, as well as the track 911s. He started his life with the 1996 Porsche GT1 Le Mans. But to continue with two families of engines does not make commercial sense, so it is a sad goodbye to this one.
The new GT3 RS 4.0 shares its block, its long-stroke crank and its titanium rods with the 911 GT3 R and RSR of four liters on track only. It also obtains a road cylinder head with variable timing and a variable manifold, as well as a catalyzed exhaust.
But these road elements are not the same as those of the RS 3.8 engine – oh, no. They are redesigned for an even higher gas flow. The valve timing is different; the intake manifold has wider and shorter runners and is a thinner molding; air filters are runway type elements; compression ratio drops (yes, drops) to 12.6: 1 from 13.0; and the exhaust cat has larger voids, requiring the use of hideously expensive new metals to keep the gas clean. As a measure of success, the output power per liter is actually higher than 3.8.
We told Porsche GT chief development officer Andreas Preuninger that it was an incredible effort for an exhausted car, done in a short period of time. “It is not a life cycle car,” he said. “It was a last minute decision. I asked the board members to say yes when they were in a good mood after we had such a successful 24 Hours at the Nürburgring last year. My team has been around for years ; we made all these GT3 and GT2 and RS cars. We know it so well. And everyone on the team wanted to make the car as a final salute. We wanted to get it right. Everyone was over-motivated . “
The nominal power and the ability to turn to 8,500 attract your attention, but the most amazing aspect of this engine is in fact its towability. The mid-range lunge is wonderful, although the maximum number of 339 pound-feet doesn’t seem huge against the backdrop of short, light gear ratios and a compact frontal area. In third gear, the way this thing flies between 4,500 and 8,500 rpm flickers. In addition, the total progression of delivery considerably facilitates profiting compared to the ridiculous soaring of the GT2.
Like the 3.8 GT3 RS, the 4.0 has a huge carbon fiber rear wing, as well as front fenders and a hood of the same material. The doors are in aluminum and the rear side windows in Perspex. This huge rear wing is the same as the 3.8, but it is tilted more strongly for additional bearing force. This lifts the front end up, hence these small diving plates in front of the front wheels.
The engine has dynamic adaptive mounts, computer controlled to lock the engine and transmission close to the hull securely in hard corners. It still shaves a bit of indecision in this already very decisive car. The same goes for the solid ball joints in all the lower joints of the rear suspension, which is new on the 4.0 compared to the 3.8.
A safety cage and ceramic brakes will be installed on most of the 600 production series, but these are options. Stereo and air conditioning are free options.
Obsessive weight savings include a Porsche crest sticker instead of an enameled metal hood badge. Be careful, the mass of the scratches on the rest of the car probably compensates for this weight loss. This machine is not modest as to its identity.
Knowing his pedigree, you can take as read his enormous performance and his gecko shape. What matters are not the numbers; this is the way of their delivery.
On the powertrain side, you get a pure, mewy slug of six flat sounds and an instant throttle response. The possibility of micromanaging the power delivered really improves the handling of a machine where precision is paramount. The short shift lever in the competition transmission brings the driver and the car closer.
And its manipulation. Oh man. The steering is clear and absolutely charged with sensations. It has a lot to communicate because it is not a car that clings to a neutral attitude. Your entries and the narrowness of the curve determine if there is understeer or oversteer, and the small suede-covered wheel keeps you wired into it. The front tires and rear rubber 325/30 ZR of 19 inches give up their grip with an early progressive warning, so there is something you can do to adjust it. If you don’t, then the high threshold, but perfectly smooth, stability systems will do your job.
Off the track, we took bumpy roads, and always found a machine with reasonable driving compliance, epic traction even on the ripples, and remarkably little inclination (for a 911 anyway) to move out of the trajectory by ridges and cambers.
If you use it as a city car, the main drawback will be the heavy clutch. When driving on highways, the problems will be the head noise that strikes through these solid suspension joints, and the fact that your rearview mirror is filled with nothing more than a big horizontal recall that you bought the RS.
This website is not regulated by the SEC. Take independent advice, blah blah blah. But we will say that even at $ 185,000, this impressive car is the infallible collector’s gold. In any case, we are safe from recourse, because world production is already exhausted.
|2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0|
|Base price||$ 185,000|
|Price as tested||$ 205,000 (east)|
|Vehicle layout||Rear engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|Engine||4.0 L / 493 PS / 339 lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-6|
|Unloaded weight||3000 lb (mfr)|
|Length x Width x Height||175.6 x 72.9 x 50.4 inches|
|0-60 mph||3.8 s (mfr)|
|EPA City / Highway Fuel Econ||TBA mpg|
|Available in the United States||Currently|