First Look: 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0

Apparently not satisfied with five, ten, 15, or even 20 variants of the 911, Porsche has launched yet another version of its vaunted sports car. The 2011 911 GT3 RS 4.0 is a halo performance machine limited to just 600 units worldwide. It is a step up from the 911 GT3 RS and was inspired by the 911 GT3 RSR race car.

Porsche set the stage for the RS 4.0 as nothing less than an all-out performance machine, noting that it packs the largest displacement engine ever to come in a factory-baked 911. As the name suggests, that engine is a 4.0-liter version of Porsche's flat-six, equipped with forged pistons, titanium connecting rods, and the same crankshaft as found in the GT3 RSR racer. The result is a solid 500 horsepower at 8250 rpm (and an eyebrow-raising 125 horses per liter), with 339 pound-feet of torque available at 5750 rpm and a power-to-weight ratio of 5.99 lbs/hp.

The car is, natürlich, fitted only with a six-speed manual transmission, which has gear ratios specifically designed for track work. Porsche says the car can hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and 124 mph in 12.0 seconds, with a maximum velocity of 193 mph. Of course, those are the exact same benchmarks as Porsche specifies for the standard GT3 RS, which offers 450 horsepower from its 3.8-liter flat-six. That means the 4.0's quoted times may be on the conservative side, but we'll have to wait until we're offered some track time with a RS 4.0 to know for certain.

Straight-line blasts aside, the car should be just as competent on the track as its GT3 RS progenitor. Porsche says the RS 4.0 reportedly lapped Germany's famed Nürburgring in 7:27, a time that will no doubt light up Internet forums for the next six months (look out, Nissan GT-R). The rapid time was facilitated in part by a low curb weight of 2998 pounds, 22 fewer than the GT3 RS. Dietary measures include carbon-fiber front fenders and front trunk lid, lighter carpeting, and carbon-fiber bucket seats. The large rear wing and front "dive plane" aerodynamic add-ons keep the car stuck to the road at speed, conspiring for a claimed 426 pounds of downforce at 193 mph.

With flared fenders to accommodate the wide rear track, a massive rear wing, and gray racing stripes, the RS 4.0 has a commanding stance. It comes only in Carrera White paint, with red and gray accents and white center-locking wheels. The aggressive wide-body appearance and big rear wing are deliberately reminiscent of the GT3 RSR race car. As in the regular GT3 RS, a roll cage is standard, and a blend of Alcantara and leather helps spruce up the stripped-down interior.

The performance figures and visual amplitude are sure to make the 911 GT3 RS 4.0 one of the most desirable factory-issued Porsches in years. With just 600 to be divided among Porschephiles worldwide, you'd better hurry if you want to order an RS 4.0. It goes on sale later this year in the U.S. for a cool $185,950, including destination.

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