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When Lightweight Cars Aren’t Necessarily Light

Or: How to actually trim the fat from Porsche’s RS cars.

Americans are fixated on their weight. From ads on television to aisles at the grocery store, you can’t hide from the plethora of options to lower the number you see when you step on a scale. It seems Porsche is equally obsessed. The latest 911 GT3 RS and 911 GT2 RS both go to great lengths to trim fat. But when you start digging into the details, you see some missing ingredients in the company’s recipe—plus a clear eye on the bottom line when it comes to weight loss.

Both RS models feature a hood, rear engine cover, and front fenders made from carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic (CFRP), as well as magnesium roof panels. The rear glass is lightened and has no defroster element. Additionally, the inner door handles are replaced with fabric door pulls, the rear seats are deleted, and there’s less sound deadening. Porsche quotes the curb weight for the 911 GT3 RS at 3153 pounds. But a study of the official press release notes that you must spec the $18,000 Weissach Package plus the $13,000 magnesium wheels to reach that number. So add around 38 pounds to Porsche’s curb-weight number if you pass on those two ultra-expensive options.

Let’s look at those two pricey options in more detail. Each pound of weight lost with the addition of the Weissach Package costs $1385. The magnesium wheels are a much better deal—but by no means a good deal—at $520 per pound saved. Porsche clearly knows that smart buyers may just want the top-spec lighter wheels, so the company won’t let you get the magnesium setup unless you first spec the Weissach Package. To put this weight loss into perspective, I placed the owner’s-manual bundle from a 911 GT2 RS on a postal scale. It weighs 2.5 pounds. Leaving that item at home versus in your glovebox gets you roughly 20 percent of the diet offered by the $18,000 Weissach Package for a total cost of $0.

Interestingly, Porsche U.K. notes the same base 3153 pounds for the 911 GT3 RS in that market. But that number doesn’t quite add up because buyers on that side of the Atlantic get a car with slightly less standard equipment. Missing are items such as satellite radio (which means there’s no ugly antenna on the roof—lucky Brits), a rear camera, cruise control, and a Homelink garage door opener. Sure, most of that is minor but it still makes a difference at the scales.

Which brings me to the weight of equipment and my issue with what Porsche fits as standard to the performance-focused 911 GT3 RS. It’s important to note I’m not someone who thinks you should pass on air conditioning and a stereo for the outright hunt for the lightest setup possible. The GT3 RS is still a roadgoing car, so music and a comfortable cabin temperature are essential. But I don’t understand the need for superfluous standard equipment like an aluminum-look fuel cap, online navigation module, satellite radio, Wi-Fi, a headlight cleaning system, eight audio speakers, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Give me a basic four-speaker audio system (like on the previous 991.1 GT3 RS) and manual air conditioning. Then replace that heavy AGM lead-acid battery with a lithium-ion setup like what’s found on certain Mercedes and McLaren models. Why fit all this heavy standard equipment and then ask customers to pay huge money to save weight? For profit, that’s why. Why doesn’t Porsche just keep the base price the same but take away the unneeded standard items? The waiting list is huge for both the 911 GT3 RS and GT2 RS, and it’s unlikely that less equipment will negatively affect demand.

Though it seems today’s buyers want the extras. It’s funny to see what owners add to their RS models after spending the big money on the Weissach Package and magnesium wheels. If you’re spending all that dough to save weight, why would you add it back again? I recently spotted a 911 GT2 RS on eBay with the two noted lightweight options but also the Bose audio system, illuminated door sills, and the upgraded interior package with extra leather and Alcantara upholstery. Why would you do that? To be fair, the only way to delete the extroverted red interior on the GT2 RS is to spend the $3480 on the upgraded interior. So, I’ll forgive the original owner (or dealer) for ordering the black and platinum gray cabin. But the rest of the extras just don’t make sense in light of the costly lightening options.

If I were to buy an RS, I’d go with the GT3 RS. I’m a huge fan of naturally aspirated engines and I don’t see the need to spend an extra $105,700 for the GT2’s 180 horsepower and a muffled exhaust note. Plus, the GT3 RS’s 9000-rpm redline is way cooler than the GT2 RS’s 7200 rpm redline. I’d add the Weissach Package and magnesium wheels to my GT3 RS even though I’m no fan of the exposed carbon hood (it reminds me of some cheap aftermarket setup from The Fast and the Furious). I’d see if Porsche would fit the standard body-color setup as there’s no real weight difference. Rumors are that certain Porsche markets are actually going to offer the Weissach Package with or without the exposed carbon hood. Let’s hope Porsche North America gets on that program. The $9210 carbon-ceramic brakes are a must have and save nearly 40 pounds. And deleting the cheesy “GT3 RS” door decals is an essential, no-charge option.

With the popularity of the Macan and Cayenne plus the availability of the big and heavy Panamera, it seems Porsche is starting to dilute the focus of true enthusiast cars when it comes to keeping them basic and light. I fully understand offering the expensive lightweight goodies, but Porsche needs to complement that by ensuring the base RS models are as light as possible by keeping the standard spec to a minimum. If not, it may have to drop the RS badge from the cars. After all, RS stands for Rennsport—German for “racing.” It’s always better to start off light if you want to get lighter. As Dean Wormer said in the classic comedy Animal House, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

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2019 Porsche 911

MSRP $103,400 Carrera Cabriolet