Porsche's latest 911 GT3 RS is a well-tamed track monster
Porsche 911 GT3 RS is epic enough for the bucket list The Porsche 911 GT3 RS is a devastatingly fast car with stellar handling. PHOTO: PORSCHE

In the invite to the press drive of Porsche's latest 911 GT3 RS, there was the thrilling promise - "test drive at the Nurburgring".

Driving the legendary, fearsome 20.8km Northern Loop (Nordschleife) of the Nurburgring racetrack probably features on every petrolhead's bucket list and, to do it in the new GT3 RS no less, I thought Christmas had come early.

But a few days before our trip, a sheepish clarification came - we would not be sampling the GT3 RS on the fabled Nordschleife, but on the newer, shorter and more sanitised Grand Prix track next door. Visiting the Nurburgring and not driving the Nordschleife is like going to Morton's, The Steakhouse and just ordering salad. Suddenly, I was a lot less thrilled about the trip.

But then again, Porsche probably knew better than to let us loose in such a devastatingly fast car on a daunting track. For the GT3 RS, lest we forget, is effectively a road-legal track car, an even more extreme device than the already hardcore GT3. Just how many road cars come with a rollcage, as the GT3 RS does?

Mounted in the rear is a 4-litre normally aspirated flat-six which made its debut in the GT3 last year but with the dial turned up. It revs to 9,000rpm (its predecessor redlined at 8,800rpm) and delivers 513bhp (20bhp more than the GT3 and previous GT3 RS), channelled to the rear wheels, as before, via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

The car charges to 100kmh in 3.2 seconds, on the way to its 312kmh top speed.

Porsche has fettled almost every aspect of the car to keep that rampant urge in check. The more visible changes are a taller rear wing, a pair of air ducts cut into the bonnet to channel cool air to the brakes, plus a more prominent front lip and wider side skirts. With underbody aerodynamics and a reshaped rear diffuser, they help generate 144kg of downforce at 200kmh, twice that of the GT3 and 40 per cent more than the previous GT3 RS.

Underneath, there are stiffer springs (twice as firm as before in front and 50 per cent harder behind) and rose-jointed suspension links for more accurate suspension control and sharper responses. The tyres are Michelin Cup 2s with a bespoke GT3 RS-specific compound. As before, the car also has rear-wheel-steering for extra agility.

On the day of our drive, the circuit was slick in parts, thanks to a drizzle, making us almost thankful to be on the tamer Grand Prix track instead of the Nordschleife. The car barely seemed to notice the weather though, howling to its 9,000rpm redline time and again without a hint of wheelspin.

Its gearbox punched in each successive gear instantaneously, delivering acceleration so explosive that even the longest straight was devoured in seconds. And as each onrushing corner loomed, a shove on the reassuringly firm brake pedal had the huge (optional) ceramic-composite brakes wiping off speed as surely as if a giant parachute had been deployed.

The effect of the new car's massive downforce numbers was evident in the track's high-speed bends, where it remained planted even with the throttle pinned to the floor. And it proved it could dance as well, flicking through the circuit's fast left-right chicane at three-figure speeds without the tail ever stepping out of line.

Traction was phenomenal, too, allowing power to be applied well before corner exit. And on the few exploratory ventures I made beyond the car's massive limits of adhesion, it remained benign - either four-wheel-drifting gently wide or edging its tail out progressively under power. The GT3 RS may be a beast, but Porsche has trained it well.

After a couple of laps, my initial trepidation about tackling the track in this wild-looking animal had melted away, replaced by huge trust in its ability.

To put that achievement in perspective, just a week before our drive, Porsche's own racing ace Kevin Estre had hurled the new car around the Nordschleife in a physics-defying six minutes and 56.4 seconds - 24 seconds faster than the previous GT3 RS and nine seconds behind a production-car record held by Porsche's own GT2 RS with 177bhp more.

So I may not have tackled the Nordschleife, but that is fine. Because the new GT3 RS is so epic that driving it is a bucket-list experience in its own right.