Rolling through quaint seaside villages, the new GT3 RS looks ridiculous. Its Lizard Green paint almost seems to glow as fog from the Irish Sea rolls in, and its huge carbon-fiber wing with "PORSCHE" emblazoned on top draws puzzled looks from the pensioners otherwise enjoying a cold Friday morning.

But don't take this to mean that the 911 GT3 RS doesn't fit in on the Isle of Man. Quite the contrary.

"This place reeks of motorsport," says Andreas Preuninger. The charismatic head of road cars at Porsche Motorsport, he's an expert on the subject. Andy, as he likes to be called, has wanted to bring a GT3 RS here for years. It becomes clear why.

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Otherwise a summertime holiday destination and tax haven, this tiny island plays host to one of the world's greatest motorcycle races—the Isle of Man TT. It's a week-long series of races where riders from around the world, divided into various classes, chase the highest average speed on a 37-mile course made from the island’s public roads. A course that winds through narrow villages and up and down a mountain on bumpy, cambered roads with no barriers and so many places to crash. With over 250 fatal accidents since its first running 111 years ago, the TT is one of the deadliest races in the world.

It's a place that captures the imaginations of so many riders looking to make their mark, in spite of the looming threat of death. To a racing romantic, the allure is undeniable.

The GT3 RS has always appealed to a similar sort of romantic. It offers a tangible connection to the 911s you see racing all over the world, and thus, an emotional connection to the allure of racing. It's a car that speaks to the race-car-driver fantasies we all had as children.

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The regular 911 lineup starts at the Carrera, a pleasant 370-hp sports car, and extends to the all-wheel drive 580-hp Turbo S. Beyond that, Porsche Motorsport steps in. The automaker’s in-house competition department offers three flavors of hardcore 911. First is the GT3, with a naturally-aspirated race-derived motor and heavily revised chassis and suspension. One step beyond that is the GT3 RS, which takes the GT3 to a more track-ready extreme with stiffer suspension, lightweight body panels, and aero elements. (Porsche Motorsport also builds the 911 GT2 RS, a 700-hp twin-turbo rear-drive track weapon for crazy people.)

This new, 991.2-generation 911 GT3 RS shares its naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six with the lesser GT3—and also every 911 race car built by Porsche Motorsport today, including the RSR. There's at least one difference between the street and race engines, though—the street car makes 10 more horsepower than the race model, a total of 520.

Lifting the engine cover, this is all you see of the naturally-aspirated powerplant.
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The suspension is pretty racing inspired, too. Compared to its predecessor, spring rates on the new GT3 RS more than doubled up front, and increased by 33 percent in the rear. The rubber front subframe bushings used in the previous GT3 RS are gone, too, replaced by solid connections. The new GT3 RS has tech not allowed in any race series today, like adaptive dampers and rear-wheel steering. You can set the two-mode adaptive dampers via a button on the center console, though if you want to adjust ride height, camber, caster, sway bars or toe angle, you'll have to remove the RS's center-lock wheels and get out your tools.

No one from Porsche will say it outright, but the new GT3 RS chassis is basically identical to that of the outrageous GT2 RS. That's no big surprise, since Porsche Motorsport developed both cars at roughly the same time.

The aerodynamics are similar too. Those NACA ducts on the trunklid direct cooling air to the front brakes, which allowed Porsche to create a smoother underbody that helps the diffuser behind the muffler generate more downforce. The decklid wing comes from the GT2 RS, manually adjustable to one of three positions. Set to maximum attack, this wing helps the GT3 RS make nearly 1000 lbs of downforce at its 193-mph top speed.

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I should note that my drive in the new GT3 RS was tempered by rain and fog, which is no surprise when you're in the middle of the Irish Sea. A thick mist enveloped the mountain that makes up the last few miles of the TT course, while temperatures only ever reached the low 50s and rain was persistent. Not ideal conditions for 520 horsepower, rear-wheel drive and aggressive summer tires.

But like its highlighter green paint glowing in the fog, the brilliance of the new GT3 RS shone through. This is one of the most exhilarating cars on sale today.

Fire up the GT3 RS, and the 4.0-liter flat-six fills the cabin with a rough, clattering idle, more mechanical noise than exhaust note. It’s very clear this is not a regular Carrera. With so little sound deadening, every time you tap the throttle, you hear a rush of air getting sucked into the intake.

This engine only offers 20 horsepower and seven lb-ft of torque more than the 4.0-liter in the previous GT3 RS. This is a case of numbers not telling the full story if ever there was one. It's a savage, revving to 9000 rpm with such ferocity, you'll want to swear off turbochargers for good. Between 8000 and 9000, it's violent and utterly addictive. The motor in the old 991.1 GT3 RS is great, but it can't match the fury and response of this one. Preuninger puts it best when he says this engine "has so much meat in it." He's biased, of course, but he's right.

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And then you pull a paddle and do it all over again. Unlike the new GT3, the GT3 RS will only be available with Porsche’s PDK seven-speed dual-clutch automatic—Porsche positions its "RS" cars for those concerned with the fastest possible lap time. If you've read this or any other car publication, you'll know that Porsche's PDK is the best dual-clutch around, and you won't be surprised to learn that it's mind-bending here. Shifts are so immediate and smooth, even the most die-hard save the manuals types will come away very impressed.

I love this engine with a manual gearbox in the regular GT3—that's what I'd buy if I could—but there's no denying that an instantaneous 9000-rpm PDK upshift is an extraordinary experience. And a shorter final drive ratio compared to the non-RS GT3 means you can spend even more time in that sweet spot between 8000 and 9000.
It's eye-opening. Literally, in my case, as a bit of standing water and let's say a less-than-precise throttle application caught me out within my first few minutes in the car. Porsche Stability Management kept everything in check, but it was almost as if the car was offering me a warning. One that I heeded.

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The GT3 RS is a car that demands respect. At the same time, it's not unpredictable. The electric-assist steering is so talkative, it’ll end your fears about this technology. And the optional carbon-ceramic brakes on our test car offered tons of feel and easy pedal modulation, with seamless transitions into ABS.

Rear-wheel steering is standard on all 991-generation GT2 and GT3 models. The best thing I can say about it is that it's almost imperceptible. I drove the new GT3 RS just after getting out of a 1973 Carrera RS 2.7—I know, not a bad day—and the new car didn't feel substantially larger than the old, despite the fact that it is. It's only at low speeds, when the rear steering virtually shortens the new car’s wheelbase, that you notice it at work.

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Two tires are offered standard on the new GT3 RS: Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, or Dunlop Sport Maxx Race 2s, both newly designed for this model. Porsche says they perform nearly identically on this car; the automaker offers both so they always have a supply. Both are at their best on a dry racetrack, so the rainy conditions didn’t highlight their strengths. Still, the car was eager to eat up the roads of the TT course. Turn-in is very sharp, especially with the forged magnesium wheels available with the Weissach Package.

These wheels shed 25 pounds of rotational mass in total, which makes a difference on a car like this. But they're a $13,000 option that’s only available once you first select the $18,000 Weissach Package, which includes a carbon-fiber roof, sway bars and other hardware saving 13.4 lbs total on US-spec cars. And the non-Weissach car is still great. I wouldn't blame you for saving your $31,000 and spending it on track days and replacement tires. Or a Civic Si.

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But as illuminating as driving the new GT3 RS is, it's even more so driving it back-to-back with its predecessor. The 2016 991.1 GT3 RS is an excellent car by any standard; the new car just takes things to the extreme.

The new GT3 RS goes around the Nurburgring an amazing 24 seconds faster than its predecessor, but a lot of that comes down to the tires. Porsche has a new, ultra-sticky track-day tire, the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R, available as a dealer-installed option. Porsche used this tire to set the new GT3 RS lap time.

Even if you're not attacking the Nurburgring, the chassis improvements on the new GT3 RS are immediately noticeable when compared back-to-back with the 2016 model. The new GT3 RS feels much stiffer and more taut than its predecessor, while still maintaining grip over bumpy Manx roads.

And while this car puts down serious numbers, it goes well beyond that. It connects to the passion of motorsports.

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During our Isle of Man visit, Porsche arranged for Mark Higgins and Steve Plater to give us a driving tour of the island. Higgins is a local hero who holds the automotive lap record on the TT course, while Plater is a retired motorcycle road racer who won the Supersport Junior race in 2008 and the top-level Senior TT in 2009. They detailed the absurd speeds achieved on the course and the incredible physicality of racing here.

Some dips and compressions on the 37-mile circuit will send riders careening across the road, often at speeds approaching 200 mph. In the GT3 RS, I wasn't doing anything near that, but the image of riders just at the edge of control tearing across these public roads loomed in the back of my mind.

It's hard to avoid imagery like this in the GT3 RS. Its connection to racing stirs up all those romantic motorsport feelings we as enthusiasts hold within ourselves. The sort of romance that Steve McQueen tried to capture in Le Mans; the sort of romance that brought Plater back here in search of a Senior TT win, in spite of the looming threat of death.

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The GT3 RS gives you a taste of that world. It brings you closer to the realm of those who actually race these things, and to the long history of Porsche race cars. To borrow words from Andy Preuninger, it reeks of motorsport.

Of course, this has always been the appeal of the GT3 RS. Hardware and vibe from a race car, in something you can drive to work. The 2019 model is simply the most extreme iteration yet, capable of hypercar-level performance.

At the end of the day, the GT3 RS still looks ridiculous on the Isle of Man. And it's just about perfect.

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