Back to basics with the original Porsche 911 GT3 RS

T​his is where the serious stuff really started. The 996 GT3 RS didn't begin the RS legacy but it was a true shift in the way Porsche now produces track-oriented cars.

T​hat's a Porsche 911 GT3 RS from 2003. Just like any modern-day GT3 RS, expect it to be fast, extreme and light. You might dislike the 996 for obvious reasons like the design, or the water-cooled engine, but we think you will fall in love with the 996 GT3 RS, a car that defined Porsche's contemporary track-oriented lineage. This car has all the elements that you'll find on current generations, such as a massive wing, roll-cage, carbon-fibre parts, bucket seats, six-point harnesses, no back seats and racing stripes!

The story of track-focused 911s did not start with this car but it definitely helped defined the foundations of future 911 RS's. The first 911 RS was the legendary 2.7 RS from 1973. Since then, every iterations of the 911 have received the famous RS treatment. So, what changed with the 996? First of all, for the first time, a larger public could buy a car that was specced like a race car. Indeed, prior to that, Porsche produced extreme cars like 993 GT2, however only with 57 where ever built. With the 996, Porsche produced 682 of them. Still a very limited number by today's standards, making it one of the rarest RS's ever.

While 911s like the 964 RS, or 993 RS looked like standard cars, the 996 GT3 RS is eccentric. There's a massive wing, carbon fibre here and there, coloured racing stripes with matching-coloured wheels. As you can see in the gallery, this car is miles away from discrete, it's here to make a "I'm quick" statement. S​o, what is this car all about?

Just like any modern-day GT3 RS, expect it to be fast, extreme and light.

J​onathan Yarden

T​he 996 GT3 RS is based on the facelifted version of the 996 and is the evolution of the already seriously-quick GT3. It came with a revised 3.6-litres engine that produced 381 hp. Yes, it's the same power output as the regular GT3, but the car only weighs 1'330 kg, about 50 kg less than the latter. And that's all due to polycarbonate windows, carbon fibre bonnet lid and back wing, ceramic brakes. That helps the car to get from 0 to 100 km/h in only 4.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 190 mph. That was 16 years ago! And how is on the road? Well, surprise, it's stiff. The dampers were modified and the suspension is near identical to the one you find on cup cars. On the bright side, you get the full racing car for the road experience. You just feel so connected and maybe even more than on the newer ones. The 996 GT3 RS feels raw and unforgiving. When modern-day GT3 RS's feel tame and too easy to drive, you need to show the 996 some respect, get to know its strange character and expect the unexpected.

Driving this car is not a stroll in the park. Being a manual, the clutch is massively heavy and can quickly become a burden if you are stuck in traffic. Also, most of the noise insulations have been removed for weight-saving, so you hear every little clicks and every stones hitting the underneath of the car. But hey, it's all part of the experience. The kind of customers that will want this car are the same sadomasochistic people that like salad without sauce. They are ready to let aside all the comforting details and luxuries that normal people cannot live without. They want to feel connected to the machine and enjoy the true experience of its rawness. Nowadays, less and less people are like that, so I salute the people out there that are ready to go back to basics, suffer and play it rough in order to get a good drive.

W​e loved the Porsche 996 GT3 RS. A car you really feel connected to that procures excitement, speed, a loud noise and all the elements that constitute a proper racing car. Even though the coloured wheels and the stickers look a bit silly, they add a fun touch that is reminiscent of the old 2.7 RS. Let's get to the part that stings a bit, the looks. Even though the car is the facelifted iteration of the 996, it does not mean that it is any prettier. We think it looks just fine, but many will argue this bold statement and we can't wait to see how bad you think it looks in the comment section. All in all, here's our rating.

P​orsche 996 GT3 RS

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Perego Cars, situated in Switzerland, for giving me the opportunity to review and shoot this car. It is currently on sale on their website. Website: www.peregocars.com/en Facebook: www.facebook.com/peregocars/ Instagram: www.instagram.com/peregocars/