State of the Art

Also from Issue 176

  • Ruf’s Old/New-School 997E Targa
  • 908/3 Driven on the Street!
  • First RHD 356 Coupe
  • Spec 911. vs. GT3 RS vs. GT3 Cup
  • The Fourth Glöckler
  • Infamous Mulholland 911 Street Racer
  • 170-mph 924 Autobahn Sleeper
  • Market Update: 1999-2007 911s
  • Porsche Icon: 550
  • Project Cayman: An Introduction
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After a warm-up lap, other differences become clear. Chiefly, the RSR has far more mechanical grip. That makes sense, given that its front tires are the same size as the Cup’s rears, but the extra confidence is what really gets you. Turn-in is sharp, grip is predictable, and rear-end traction on throttle is stunning.

The run to 9000 rpm proves well worth the wait, the 3.8 climbing up there hard and happily. At speed, the RSR hunkers down like nothing else I’ve driven, its aero appendages providing noticeable help through Infineon’s high-speed Esses.

The brakes are different, too. The GT3 Cup’s concrete pedal offers little feedback, but the system in 99913 (AP Racing calipers along with a different master cylinder, pads, and rotors) is fabulous. There’s enough travel to let you easily modulate the brakes. Pedal effort is noticeably lighter, too, so much so that you don’t miss power assist.

With the tires fully warmed, everything clicks. I start to carry enough speed in several turns to feel the sidewalls roll over to meet the tires’ main surfaces. Enough speed that the brakes are getting hot, and even better. Enough speed to see how the RSR comes together. It’s neither hairy nor difficult to drive, so long as you know 911s. All of the same slow-in, fast-out rules apply, and traction on corner exit is still the star. A racer getting out of a 1970s 911 would feel right at home but for two things: one, the shifter, and two, the fact that the RSR does everything better and faster. A lot better, and a lot faster.

The harder I push, the more I sense that part of the competence belongs to the car and part of it belongs to the team that set it up. There’s more to dialing in an RSR than alignment and wing settings. The pitch of the flat floor under the car, for instance, can transform an RSR. As can a well-chosen brake upgrade.

The car’s supreme cohesiveness recalls an illusive, subtle characteristic I’ve felt in only the very best 911s, maybe three to five percent of the hundreds that I’ve driven. Driving the RSR is strangely analogous to covering long distances in a 996 Turbo: It feels extraordinarily competent, like a car built to carry big speed for hours at a time. Unlike the reassuring-to-a-fault 996, however, the RSR communicates with you. Surely another layer of challenges lies beyond where I’m willing to push today, but at eight or nine tenths, the car is without vice. 

My session over, I realize that I forgot to try the traction control out, instead giving the throttle the same respect I would in a 996 GT2. Ah, well. Heading into the pits, I savor my final moments in 99913. Like the very best roadgoing 911s, it’s a Por­sche that I don’t want to get out of, one that must have been an absolute ball to hurtle around Le Mans.

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