2017 Porsche 911 Split Personality: Turbo S vs. GT3 RS
I had the opportunity to drive both cars on the same day at Atlanta Motorsports Park.
To me, the first big difference was power. It was very clear that the Turbo S offered much more torque due to the turbo itself. BUT, the GT3 RS was absolutely planted through the turns. I’m told that the GT3 RS can create upwards of 700 lbs. of downforce and I believe it! The cornering capabilities of the GT3 RS were noticeably superior to the Turbo S.
Porsche has created two impeccable machines and both are a pleasure to drive. If someone were to ask me which car is faster “around the track?” I would give the GT3 RS the slight edge because of the downforce in the corners. If someone were to ask me which car is faster “in a straight line?” Bye bye GT3 RS, The Turbo S is hands down faster.
Lesson of the day: If you’re driving down the road in your quarter million dollar Porsche 911/GT3 RS and you come up to a red light next to another Porsche. Make sure it’s not a 911/Turbo S before you take off, because if it is you’ll get smoked!
Porsche’s absolute peak of its 911 line is a Jekyll and Hyde story for the modern age. Both models are born from the same DNA, but one pampers its driver into overconfidence while the other shames them into submission.
But which is more worth its barely under $200k sticker price? That ruling depends on your habits and preferences as a driver as well as your penchant for punishment. So let’s see how each model stacks up to decide which side of Jekyll/Hyde you prefer.
Porsche 911 Turbo S: The Consummate Coddling Coupé
At 3,563 lbs and stuffed to the gills with every electronic nanny imaginable, the 580 hp 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S is the absolute peak of what some define an exotic performance car to be.
Put simply, all those gadgets tucked in neatly underneath gorgeous, curvaceous sheet metal can make you one hell of a driver. No, it won’t keep you from burning out the clutch on your brother-in-law’s manual farm truck or suddenly teach you how to exit a turn without nuzzling the wall, but what it will do is give you grip when and where you need it. And lots of it.
The PTM (Porsche Traction Management) system continually re-vectors torque thousands of times throughout a turn to attain neutral handling in a stunning variety of situations. Turns that would normally result in catastrophic understeer can be navigated like a maître d dodges incoming busboys. When you turn a bit too aggressively and initiate what would have normally been a slide, PTM kicks in alongside an electronic locking differential to make the back wheels do the steering for you.
But having an electronic guardian angel over your shoulder can easily cultivate bad habits and lead to overconfidence. Suddenly, you could get a bit too happy with the wheel and direct it towards the nearest retaining wall, with which the 911 Turbo S might happily comply. So, you should feel no shame in enjoying being pampered by the Turbo, but don’t let it spoil you into becoming a less attentive driver.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS: Ferocious, Feral and Fun
The 911 GT3 RS is the polar opposite approach to modifying the Carrera compared to the Turbo S. Strip out most of the nannies, take the stereo and sound-deadening with you, and strap in the closest engine you’ll get to a cup car, and you have a monstrously powerful 500 hp beast. Too powerful? Perhaps. Fun? You bet your sweet tush!
Porsche’s GT3 RS is the answer to all the complainers who whine about the death of analog driving. While it still retains systems like Porsche’s insanely advanced dual-clutch seven-speed PDK transmission, it refuses to play backseat driver to your shenanigans. Want to slide the whole rear end through a hairpin? Be its guest — if you can make it all the way through.
This “make you smoke every cigarette in the pack” approach to punishment can lead to some gleeful moments but also some downright terrifying ones. The fact that the steering wheel unabashedly transmits every bit of road feedback only adds to the rodeo-like feeling.
But when you master it, thar be bliss in them turns. A hyper rigid frame and all that dieting pair sublimely with the smooth-locking rear differential to make the vehicle an extension of your body rather than an insulator against your poorest decisions. Snap too hard off the brakes on an exit, for instance, and the nose lurches upwards, diminishing your control and grip until you guide it back down.
In the end, the GT3 RS is the most car you can have on the track that can legally sport a license plate on its rump. Take care of the beast, and it will take care of you — but don’t think you can take your eyes off it for a second.
Come Master the 911 at Atlanta Motorsports Park
Whether you are blessed enough to boast a shiny-new 911 Turbo or you are clinging on to your 993 for dear life, we want you to experience your car to its fullest. Come become a member at Atlanta Motorsports Park to enjoy the track time, facilities and camaraderie you need to master your skills.