Porsche 911 GT3 RS prototype

Porsche typically keeps to a suitably fast schedule when it comes to rolling out increasingly hard-core performance versions of the 911. After the 997 Carrera debuted in 2004, the GT3 version followed in 2006, and by the end of the 2007, Porsche had rolled out both the GT3 RS and GT2 versions. Then the facelifted 997.5 came out in 2008 and it was back to the start: the GT3 came in 2009, the GT3 RS and GT2 RS in 2010, and the GT3 RS 4.0 in 2011. But things have slowed down some with the latest 991 generation.

The new Carrera came in 2011 and the GT3 followed in 2012. By recent history's example, we should have at least two more hardcore models by now, but we don't. Maybe the engineers in Zuffenhausen have had their hands full fixing the spontaneous-combustion issues with the existing GT3, or maybe their attentions have been focused elsewhere altogether. But if these spy shots are anything to go by, it seems like they're back on the job.

Now we don't know if this prototype foreshadows a new GT3 RS or a GT2, but it sure looks more hard-core than the existing GT3 that many purists have derided as too soft, what with its automatic transmission and four-wheel steering.

What's the difference between a GT3, GT3 RS or GT2? We're glad you asked (even if you didn't). The GT3 is a more performance-focused version of the 911. The GT3 RS takes things a step further, but keeps the naturally aspirated engine. The GT2 packs twin turbochargers, like the 911 Turbo but without all-wheel drive. Porsche seems likely to do one or the other, and this could be either. But whichever it is – with the turbos or without, manual transmission or dual-clutch – it promises to be one of the most formidable performance machines on road or track.