Richard Hammond column - Hammond on the 911 GT3 RS - 2010
You can't talk a Porsche 911 fan out of their enthusiasm. It would be like telling someone they don't like oranges or tennis, when they do. And despite the engineering integrity and the decades of development and all that stuff, it's not a serious, logical passion driven by reason and order. I'm a Porschist, and the GT3 RS is my favourite Porsche.
There's a sort of background fuzz that goes on around the mind of the 911 fan. They know that it looks like it does, not at the whim of some flouncy designer with silly glasses or to satisfy the roaring ego of fleets of middle-aged stockbrokers in need of something to dangle in front of their mistresses. But because that's the way a car ends up looking when you put the engine at the back, the driver at the front and want to persuade the air around it not to mess things up too badly.
They know, too, that the harsh, mechanical clatter it makes is not acoustically enhanced to please the ears of acne-raddled dot-com millionaires and, indeed, that the engine itself more closely resembles the back of a washing machine than the spangly device lurking under a plate-glass window and decorated with Ferrari bunting in the back of a 458. Again, this knowledge permeates the experience without the 911 fan being aware of it.
'Using the steering on a Porsche 911 feels like being a meerkat in control of a pride of lions’
And all the time, the 911 fan is soaking up the way the car feels, handles, delivers its power. The way it will crest a ridge in the road or track and there will be a moment, a split-second when the front end goes light - you can feel through the steering wheel that it's a living, sensuous thing.
The steering is fleet and fast, but still carries the authority to direct the compact, powerful car at your will. Using the steering on a 911 feels like being a meerkat in control of a pride of lions. The GT3 RS does everything a 911 has to do.
The power should be delivered in a constant surge of efficient, twisting force, not in flamboyant peaks of turbo-crazed fury. That power has to go to the rear wheels only - send it to the front and all the resulting gubbins at the front wheels will increase the unsprung weight and ruin the very lightness and fleetness that characterises the car. You'll be a baby hippo, not a meerkat, trying to control that pride of lions, and it just won't feel as good.
There is, of course, some satisfaction in all of this for the 911 fan. Because as I've said, it's not something you can simply talk us out of. It would be like trying to persuade James that he's wrong about liking pies. He's not wrong - he's right, he does like pies. So leave him to it.
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