Around 15 years ago, Porsche stuck an ‘RS’ badge onto a 911 GT3.
It was, visually at the very least, inspired by the Carrera 2.7 RS of decades prior, and as such it wore a decal down the side that made the link clear.
Today, the GT3 RS wears the same decal, though it has come a long way in other aspects.
Porsche 996 911 GT3 RS - 2004
A 280kW/385Nm naturally aspirated rear-driver weighing just 1360kg sounds like a quick beast even by today’s standards, so you can imagine how it sounded in 2003 when it was announced.
Classic MOTOR: 911 GT3 RS v M3 CSL v Exige v Evo VIII
A 3.6 litre flat-six engine making peak power at 7400rpm still sounds like a dream to this day, but it even looks loud.
When we took it for a spin (October 2004), we extracted a 4.38s sprint to 100km/h, which is astonishingly quick. Porsche claimed a 4.4 second run.
It was also the quickest 911 around the Nürburgring at the time, with a respectable 7:53.
This, of course, all came at a cost of $288,000, which means there aren’t many out-and-about.
Porsche 997 911 GT3 RS - 2007
When the 997.1-gen 911 came along, so did the return of the GT3 RS… eventually.
A couple of years into the 997’s reign, Porsche fiddled with the 3.6-litre boxer six, extracted 305kW/405Nm, and slapped the ‘GT3 RS’ decal on the side.
Okay, there were other changes too. A wider track (from the ‘standard’ 911s) gave the RS more stability, and its rear wing and rear window were made of carbon and plastic, respectively, for weight-saving.
It also boasted Porsche Active Stability Management (PASM) adaptive suspension, which is pretty self-explanatory.
With the 997.1, 4.2 seconds was the magic 100km/h number, and a Nordschleife time now at just 7:42. $299,900 would pick you up one of these when new.
Porsche 997.2 911 GT3 RS 3.8 - 2010
Though it was still in the 997 generation, the 997.2 GT3 RS had a big advantage over its predecessor.
Subtle differences in design gave the game away standing still, but moving… 331kW and 440Nm is hard to hide, and 4.0 flat to 100km/h would leave the old GT3 RS behind.
Helping this happen was now 3.8-litres of Porsche boxer goodness, and an 8500rpm cut off.
Porsche put a lot of the credit for the power increase up to an alteration of the intake – an improved air filter and intake manifold reportedly reduced resistance by 20 per cent.
It wasn’t a cheap thing though, the one we tested in May 2010 would set a punter back $358,290.
Porsche 997.2 911 GT3 RS 4.0 - 2012
A bigger engine, more power, and another even faster time around the ‘Ring. Putting the incredible 4.0-litre boxer into the GT3 RS is something Porsche has stuck by to this day, and it’s clear why.
The 997 4.0 was worth 368kW/460Nm and only weighed 1360kg, just like the first GT3 RS. Unlike the first however, its 0-100km/h time dipped into the ‘3s’ with a 3.9s, and it’d lap the Nürburgring in just 7:27.
Racing suspension and even weight-optimised carpet were the lengths Porsche went to to ensure a few extra kilos didn’t get in the way of performance excellence.
Adding to that excellence was the ability to conjure around 35Nm more in the tachometer’s mid-range through a ‘Sport’ button on the dash, which essentially achieved this by reducing the exhaust back pressure.
It was also, the first time Porsche used front deflection vanes on a production car, though this wasn’t something that carried over in a recognisable form to the next generation.
Porsche 991 911 GT3 RS - 2016
For many, the 991-gen GT3 RS lost something special when it lost its manual gearbox. But it still used a 4.0-litre engine, albeit with a slightly altered bore and stroke to the version that made the previous car so good.
2016 Best Engine: Porsche 911 GT3 RS
The GT3 RS also put on some kilos, about 60, to bring its weight up to 1420kg. It was still 10kg lighter than the GT3 of the same generation, but not as light as its ancestors.
However, Porsche managed to tweak its dynamic ability enough to lower its Nürburgring lap time by more than 7 seconds from the 4.0’s effort, coming in at “under 7:20.”
In more immediate terms, the 991 GT3 RS can hit 100km/h in just 3.3 seconds, shaving more than a second off the time of the 996. It’ll also hit 200km/h in just 10.9 seconds.
When we had one in 2016, we managed a trip to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds (not bad given the car had ‘very tired’ rear bags), and an 11.6sec quarter mile at 201km/h.
Porsche 911 991.2 GT3 RS – 2018
Now with 383kW and 470Nm (still from an N/A boxer six!) the current GT3 RS claims 0-100km/h in 3.2s, to 200km/h in 10.6s, and a top speed of 312km/h.
New to the 991.2 are NACA ducts, found on the bonnet, which feed fresh air to the front brakes. The removal of the ducts from the front bar allows the front diffuser to generate more downforce.
Driven: Porsche 991.2 911 GT3 RS
Similarly, the downforce is adjustable at the front by the addition or removal of a blanking panel which divert air over the car, while the rear wing can be adjusted for up to 250kg of downforce at top speed.
Rear wheel steering, PASM, and the torque vectoring diff have all been differently calibrated, while active engine mounts are still used after first being implemented generations ago.
There’s a downside, and that’s the price. $416,500 is out of reach for most of us, and the addition of a weight-reducing Weissach Package adds up to $41,990 to the, with a roll cage.
But for an atmo-911 that can lap the Nürburgring in 6:56.4, we reckon die-hards are willing to put down that much and more.
Read our full review of the new 991.2 911 GT3 RS, and keep an eye out for more GT3 RS content coming to you from the MOTOR archives.