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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard about the new Porsche 911 GT3 and its RS hardcore variant. How could you not have? Every magazine has been praising it and every schoolboy’s bought an RS poster just to hang it up on his bedroom wall. It’s been called the sportscar of the decade, the bargain of the century and even a supercar. Well, the simple fact of the matter is that it probably IS the greatest sportscar ever made, and we’ll tell you exactly why. To further differentiate the “standard” GT3 from the insane GT3 RS variant, we’ve decided to compare the two and highlight the differences between them.
The normal GT3 looks like, well, a GT3 racecar for the road. It’s wider, lower and more aggressive than your run-of-the-mill 991 911. Almost everyone bar those partially blind can tell the difference between it and the regular car. That’s mostly down to one thing: that huge rear wing. You can’t ignore it can you? It’s just there, sitting tall and proud. For 2017 Porsche has redesigned the bumper lights and the air intakes, bringing it more in-line with the new Carrera. The air intake layout is especially interesting, since it seems to be remarkably similar to the one found on the Cayman GT4. Headlights and taillights get a slight revision, as does the decklid and the bumper at the back.
Then, there’s the GT3 RS, and you really can’t miss this one even if you are blind. For starters, the front bumper has been completely redesigned sporting larger air intakes big enough to engulf a small child altogether, thinner LED stripes and a huge splitter. The front fenders get louvers, and that’s a first on any production Porsche. They’re not just aesthetic however. They provide actual downforce at the front axle, pushing down on the tires, providing more turn-in and stability. The rear fenders get intakes similar to those found on the 911 Turbo variants and revised side skirts with an all-new wheel design round off the look. Well, that and the ridiculous rear wing. If you thought the GT3 had a large wing, wait till you see the RS’ fixed one. The weird thing is that it doesn’t look out of place, especially since you have the splitters and the louvers. It really does give off the impression that it’s a well thought out package, mostly because it is.
We’ll just touch base on the interior and move on, since it’s the usual Porsche stuff you expect to find. The GT3 RS bases its cabin on its younger GT3 sibling, boasting some RS badging, Alcantara all around and a sportier layout. The bucket seats were ripped straight out of the 918 Spyder and offer more support as well. A Club Sport Package is standard on the RS, offering a bolt-in roll cage, battery master switch preparation and a six-point safety harness for the driver along with a fire extinguisher should things go wrong, which hopefully they won’t. If you’re after even more race-ready equipment, there’s always the Sport Chrono Package with integrated timers and Porsche’s very own Track Precision app. It measures lap times automatically via GPS, logging data on a smartphone. A useful feature to compare your laptimes and measure up against your mates at the end of the day.
This is the 911’s crowning jewel. The standard GT3 houses a 3.8 liter flat-six Boxer engine at the back, producing 354 glorious naturally-aspirated Kilowatts and 439Nm of torque. By contrast, the GT3 RS uses a bigger 4.0 liter flat-six unit with 373 Kilowatts (18 more than the GT3) and 459Nm of torque. The two units might not seem that different on paper, but the way they go on about delivering their power is anything but. For instance, the GT3 RS does indeed feel more powerful, and you can feel the extra kilowatt difference, but they get delivered slightly lower down in the rev range. When we say slightly we mean that it “only” revs to 8,250 rpm, whereas the GT3’s unit, because of its smaller displacement and titanium connecting rods with forged pistons, goes all the way to 9,000 rpm. Just imagine that. A six-cylinder horizontally-opposed engine screaming at bike-rivaling revolutions per minute. If you think it sounds glorious, you’d be right.
Both engines use Porsche’s brilliant 7-speed PDK transmission, but the 2017 GT3 might see the addition of a third pedal and a manual shifter. Porsche isn’t revealing anything just yet, but it’s almost certainly going to happen. Finally, after years of complaining about the lack of manual, we finally might get our wish.
If you’re purely after a track car, go for the GT3 RS, no question about it. It’s got more aero, 20mm wider tracks at the front and rear, a revised suspension and more power. It is, for all intents and purposes, the faster car. Period. However, don’t mistake it for being the better car. On the road, the GT3 is just as fast as the RS, and arguably even more fun. The lack of the RS’ trick aero means it’s much more willing to dance and it’s just amazing getting to rev it out to 9,000 rpm. It looks slightly more mannered and if you choose to leave the roll cage out, it’s much more livable with on a day to day basis.
It’s a matter of picking your poison really. Do you want something which will annihilate every other car on the track, or the best sportscar ever made capable of demolishing any B-road? Porsche has you covered on both fronts, and it’s a win-win situation either way you go.
Anyone into cars even the slightest has probably heard enough stories and read enough articles about the WRX and WRX STI to make them sick. It’s literally everywhere, but for a good reason. The Impreza platform is one of the few rally car transitioned road-going icons. Its rivalry with Mitsubishi is legendary, and its battles with the Lancer Evolution are the stuff dreams are made of. In many ways, this is the perfect all-around vehicle, offering everything you could possibly want from a car. It’s fast, looks great, can sit five people, doesn’t require a personal petrol station and with a big boot, it’s practical.
The current Impreza generation (G4 – fourth generation) received some criticism when it first came out, mostly because it didn’t look even remotely close to what the concept hyped us all it would be. Mind you, it’s still a lot better than the previous iteration, the G3, which is considered by many to be the worst Impreza of all time. Anyway, getting back to the story in hand, let’s discuss the new one. After a few years of a steady increase in popularity, Subaru decided the Impreza needed a revamp to keep those figures rising. So, they took the WRX and WRX STI, gave them some minor updates, and here’s the result.
From the outside, it’s nigh on identical. We mean really, it looks like it’s the last generation Impreza to anyone but the keenest of enthusiasts. Even then, you’d have to have a good eye to spot the differences, because they really are minute. The WRX STI gets all the glory, being the flagship model, so it’s got a few more changes than the “standard” WRX. None the less, the WRX has something to show for its midlife facelift too. For starters, the radiator grille has been redesigned and now features sharper points on both sides, with a more open design thanks to the removal of the bottom-part insert. It’s less fussy and cluttered, offering a more elegant and sophisticated look. Well done Subaru there then.
The corner trim inserts housing the daytime running lights and fog lights have been tweaked to form a more aggressive look, while the air dam gets an enlargement procedure with a bigger surround. The mentioned elements now come finished in a glossier black, not that you’d notice from a far anyway. Something new and actually useful in that it serves a functional purpose are the LED Steering Responsive headlights (US models). They follow the road ahead to give you better vision. They’re not adaptive, i.e. they don’t work with cameras or radars, and instead, they receive input from how much you’re turning the steering wheel. It’s simple but effective. Both WRX and WRX STI models receive the update.
The interior is, much like the exterior, unchanged, with a few exceptions. The same general cabin of the Impreza can still be found in the new car, with the smooth and curved dash in the middle, housing two displays (upgraded to 5.9 inches from 4.3), a thin center console and a centrally mounted shifter. The interior door grips have been redesigned with a smaller, more attractive theme, but you wouldn’t have noticed that had we not just mentioned it. It’s not a lot, but it makes getting in and out just a tad easier. The biggest news however comes in the form of quality control. Upgraded interior materials improve the overall feel of the cabin vastly, and they go nice with the new rear-seat armrest.
The biggest issue with the Impreza, since the car went on sale, was the interior, and it seems Subaru are aware of the issue, as every year they keep improving it. Interiors used to not matter in a car like an Impreza WRX, but with the recent improvements in rivals’ cabins, the Impreza had to step up its game or risk getting shunted to the back of the pack. We’re glad to say that the both the WRX and WRX STI now feel more premium inside, and not like standard Impreza saloons with a better engine.
Elsewhere, the entire Impreza lineup receives heated exterior mirrors and the WRX Limited model receives new seats which feature power lumbar adjustment. Some people had an issue with the WRX’s in-cabin refinement, so Subaru decided to install thicker door glass, revise the door sealing and fill the windshield header beam with foam. This further prevents frontal and high-speed rushing air noise. This update is U.S. market exclusive. We never had an issue with the WRX in that regard, but there you go.
The non-STI, i.e. WRX models get a 2.0 litre horizontally-opposed Boxer unit under the hood. If it sounds similar it’s because it is, it’s the same engine it had last year, and the year before… and the one before that. Still, we’re not complaining as it offers 192 kW of power on tap, making it rather quick. For anyone wondering, yes, the WRX STI still gets the 2.5 litre Boxer unit as well, but it’s capable of shifting at a much quicker pace thanks to 221 kW.
WRX models receive updated electric power steering, specifically designed to improve the overall feedback through the steering wheel. The six-speed manual transmission received some changes, but Subaru didn’t disclose what exactly. They just said it would improve shift feel, and that’s entirely fine by us.
The Impreza WRX is expected to arrive in Australia mid 2017, around the same time the STI makes an appearance. There’s a dilemma however. A brand-new generation Impreza is set to debut around the same time, with sales beginning next year. With rumors that the future WRX and its WRX STI might even feature a hybrid powerplant, achieving more power, a simple question arises: go for the current WRX or wait for the next-gen one? If you’re impatient, we suggest you just go for the current one. Who knows when the new generation will debut, and what it will be like. The prospect of a hybrid WRX is appealing, but many people will surely disapprove.
Nissan Nismo GT-R
Is the standard Nissan GT-R too civilized for you? Maybe you feel like it’s lacking power or excitement. Fear not, the Nismo edition is here to solve all your worries. It offers more power, better handling, and greater overall performance, but that comes at a rather hefty premium. The GT-R is no longer the budget hypercar beating sportscar it once was. It’s now a full on supercar, with the price of the Nismo version exceeding that of Porsche’s Turbo S and even the 911 GT3 RS. Is it worth it?
Well, it depends on what you want from a car. Nismo is short for Nissan Motorsports, the company’s caring division. They’re in charge of the hottest and most exciting models Nissan makes, and they eventually even deliver their own specially-tuned model like the R35 GT-R Nismo. It’s a hardcore, enthusiast car, so in that regard, it’s not a Porsche Turbo S rival. Then again, it has so much raw potential and outright speed that you can’t compare it to the GT3 RS, which is more of a driver’s car offering enjoyment. So what is the Nismo then?
Well, for starters, it’s a lot more powerful than the standard GT-R. The 3.8 liter twin-turbo V6 located at the front has been tweaked to a rather large extent. The entire turbochargers have been swapped out for larger ones, offering higher air flow (they’re actually lifted from the GT3 car). The result is nothing short of astonishing, because the relatively light and compact unit is capable of delivering 600 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque. European models get 8 less horsepower, but it’s not really noticeable unless you’re a racing driver.
The engine is still mated to a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, but Nissan say it’s better than ever. The shifts are faster still, and it works great in conjunction with the new turbochargers. Elsewhere, there’s new shock absorbers, springs, stabilizers and a unique Bilstein DampTronic system which transfers power to the wheels more efficiently and is completely driver adjustable.
A lot of emphasis has been put on aerodynamics. The Nismo version looks identical to the new 2017 GT-R, styling wise. It’s got the same tweaked front grille and the updated rear end, but a host of other changes as well. For instance, the aggressive bumper gets several layers of carbon-fiber sheets to improve the stiffness, the canards have been redesigned to improve overall airflow and the rear wing has been optimized to provide more downforce. The new Nismo GT-R manages to produce more downforce than any other Nissan ever built, apart from the racing cars of course.
We have to get back to the elephant in the room, and that’s the price of the Nismo. It’s some $38,000 over the 2017 premium GT-R, raising the figure to a whopping $227,000. In other words, you can have a premium GT-R and a Golf GTI for the price of one Nismo. Would you, however?
No, we wouldn’t either.