Earlier in the year, we were given some teaser images of a new Technic sports car that was due to be released in the (northern) summer. The model on display at LEGO shows had a black and white camouflage look. Then in April images started to appear of the final version: the lava orange 42056 Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
For Technic aficionados, this looked like it was going to be a comprehensive build, with new parts and which included a functioning PDK gear box.
Read on to see whether the build meets these high expectations, and find out more about the fully functional Technic Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe.
The front of the box shows the Porsche 911 GT3 RS car in its distinctive orange colour. It also suggests that the model is at 1:8 scale.
The back of the box has a birds-eye-view of the car along with four smaller images showing details of some of the features of the build.
The lid of the box lifts off. It has seven images showing the history of the 911 model. First appearing in 1963, the 911 has had seven distinctive models over its 50 years of production.
All the boxes are made from the matte black cardboard usually seen on Ideas sets.
Inside the box, parts have been segregated into five smaller boxes. The instruction manual is framed by four of these boxes.
There is a sticker sheet sitting behind the instruction manual.
The instruction manual looks like a Porsche owner's manual. The front cover has an image of the Porsche badge on the bonnet of the real 911 GT3 RS car.
Weighing 1.3 kg (3 lbs), the instruction book is 25 mm (1 inch) thick.
The Porsche logo symbolises a crest of Stuttgart, a town located in the south of Germany which was founded in 950 CE and has been a horse stud farm from the 13th century. The main feature of the crest is a prancing horse. There are also red-and-black stripes and antlers which are taken from the coat of arms of the Württemberg Kingdom.
The word Porsche arches over the whole crest.
With the instruction book removed, all of the five smaller boxes can be seen.
The instruction book is 578 pages long and divided into five sections. All the text is written in English and German. There are 856 building steps.
The first introduction section outlines some of the history of the LEGO Technic theme as well as the history of the Porsche AG Company. There is some history of the 911 car, finishing with some great images of the lava orange 911 GT3 RS.
There is an interview with fellow kiwi Brendon Hartley, one of two kiwi professional drivers with Porsche. The new 911 GT3 RS breaks new ground. Join Brendon Hartley as he takes the 911 GT3 RS to its limits during his trip to the Nardo test track.
Interestingly, there is a timeline showing the development process for this significant project. This set has taken nearly three years to develop from a concept in winter 2013 to full production in summer 2016.
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, VP Motorsports and GT Cars at Porsche, was given an 8860 Car Chassis. Dr Walliser reveals that LEGO was a big part of his childhood. He was given this specific set when he was 11 year's old.
8860 Car Chassis could be considered the closest Technic predecessor to the Porsche brand: it has a flat-four boxer engine located in the rear of the chassis.
The Porsche logo mentioned above first appeared on a 1952 356 Speedster.
The build - Box 1
The first building section of the instructions starts at page 38 and indicates that box 1 builds the drive train, complete with dual clutch gearbox (PDK), paddle shifters, suspension and the heart of the 911 GT3 RS, the 4.0 flat 6 engine.
Box 1 has an image of the 4.0 litre water-cooled flat-six engine.
Box 1 is the biggest of the parts boxes and contains the most parts.
There are 10 numbered bags, and one bag of orange panels and soft axles. This bag of orange parts is used during the box 3 build.
All of the engineering is completed during this section.
The steering column includes the paddle gear shifters.
Here are some images of this module. The two yellow half bushes are the paddles. The right paddle advances the gears and the left paddle reduces the gears. The paddles pull the yellow knob wheel against the red gear change lever. This causes the yellow knob wheel to rotate, which leads to the CV joint rotating 90°.
Here is a view from below.
And a view from above.
Here is the complete module with the steering mechanism included.
By page 133, build step 176, the PDK gear box, steering column and paddle shifters are in place.
There is a GPS unit on the dashboard. The set comes with two stickers; one showing the GPS shut down with a Porsche GT3 RS logo.
The second sticker shows a map of Porsche Engineering, Weissach Development Centre. Porsche use these facilities to test components and systems on standard engine test benches and high-performance test benches. Porsche has their engineering development centrally located at a single site complete with a test track.
It would have been nice for two 2x4 black tiles to be included with the set so builders can have both sticker options available. Instead, there is only one such tile in the box.
There are some new parts in this section. The 3M axle with end stop has been seen earlier in the year in 42050 Drag Racer.
A new red 3M Gear Shift Connector is used extensively in this set and is the key component in the PDK gear box.
Porsche use red shock absorbers, and so this set has extra hard shock absorbers for the first time in this colour.
By page 172, build step 235, the front axle and steering is complete.
The set has a new front wheel bearing. Yellow brake callipers are in place. Porsche colour code their brakes and use yellow for their Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB).
The grey 5M half beam limits the steering lock. I would expect to see a new part developed to be used in this location giving future models a better range of steering.
It would be possible to create Ackerman steering geometry by using Technic lever 2M to bring the steering knuckles in by one stud.
I always like to align the wheels with the steering wheel. The instruction at build step 235 on page 172 could be improved by showing how to easily align the wheels and steering wheel before pushing in the 12-tooth gear.
By page 189, build step 266, the rear axle, differential and suspension is complete.
There is a mistake in the instructions at build steps 267, 268 and 269. The gear box as built using the instructions has the gear ratios in the wrong order. The gears shift from 1st to 3rd to 2nd to 4th with ratios of 7:9, 7:25, 7:15 and 7:45 respectively.
Here is an image of the gears under the differential, as built, using the instructions at build step 269.
Build step 267 should be amended by placing the 12-tooth gear in front of the bush.
Build step 269 places the second 16-tooth gear. This change effectively switches 3rd and 2nd gears around.
By page 211, build step 302, the flat-six boxer engine is taking shape.
By page 223, build step 323, the engine is complete with the exhaust manifold and filters installed.
Each LEGO cylinder has a diameter equal to the height of one brick and a stroke of one stud making the displacement of each piston 579 mm3. The six cylinder LEGO engine has a capacity of 3474 mm3.
The 911 GT3 RS car has a displacement of 4.0 lt or 4,000,000 mm3. This makes the engine's ratio of 1:1151 by volume or 1:10.5 in each dimension (3√1151).
This completes the build for box 1.
Porsche use the term 'marriage' to describe the process of joining the drive-train to the body of the car.
There are nine numbered parts-bags in box 2.
By page 335, build step 493, the upper chassis and roll cage is complete.
This module is married with the lower chassis and drive train.
Here is the chassis, when combined. The engine is now hidden under two layers of the build: the exhaust manifold and the black 5x11 flat panels.
The chassis is very rigid; I believe this is the most rigid studless Technic chassis, and given its size, this is quite remarkable.
Page 341 to 346, build steps 499 to 510, makes the right bucket seat.
Pages 352 to 357, build steps 516 to 527 makes the left bucket seat.
Both seats are identical and usually the instructions indicate a repetitive build at the start of a sequence, and finish with ×2 at the end. It was obvious that the two seats were still to be built: the image on the box hinted that the seats were included in this section, and the parts remaining were typical for two seats. The instructions, however, could be more concise.
When both bucket seats are installed, box 2 build is compete.
With box 3, you start building the body of the car and finish with the iconic hood.
There are four numbered parts bags in box 3.
It is here that you start to see the orange panelling and soft axles.
The set includes six new wheel-arch panels, two of which have air vents and lights printed on them.
The set includes five 12M and seven 19M soft axles in orange for the first time.
By page 448, build step 637, the rear panelling including rear wheel arches and tail lights is complete.
By page 462, build step 663, the bonnet is compete.
By page 473, build step 679, the car is taking shape and the distinctive Porsche 911 shape can be seen.
Box 4 finishes the model by adding the distinctive wheel arches with their air outlets found only on the 911 GT3 RS. The adjustable motorsport rear wing will also be added.
Box four contains four numbered parts bags.
The set has eight printed parts; the two wheel arches, five hub nuts, and the laser engraved part with an individual serial number.
The distinctive wheels, unique to this set, are included in an un-numbered box. The four tyres are inside this box.
The wheels are 42 mm (1 5/8" inch) wide. They are the widest wheels in the LEGO system.
The tyres have 81.6 x 44 ZR printed on the side. ZR means that the tyres are rated for speeds in excess of 240 km/h (149 mph).
The bolting plate of these wheels has a positive offset of 7 mm. These are the first LEGO wheels to have a positive offset.
8448 Super Street Sensation still retains the distinction of having the smallest scrub radius of 4 mm (half a stud).
There are some new and rare parts used in this part of the build.
New to this set are six black and eight orange 3x7x2 panels.
There is one 11M Technic axle. This is the first time there has been an 11M axle in any colour.
The car has two 32mm diameter clear transparent round plates for the first time.
By page 482, build step 691, the dash board is complete. There are three stickers on the dash. The speedo indicates a speed of 325 km/h (202 mph) with the engine tachometer indicating 8500 rpm.
This is not bad, given that the real car has a top speed of 310 km/h (193 mph) at 8250 RPM.
For the remainder of the build, details are added to the body, starting at the front bumper and moving anti-clockwise around the vehicle until it is complete.
The last part of the build involves making the Porsche branded carry case that sits in the front under the bonnet.
Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) translates to dual clutch in English. The PDK allows for fast gear changes as the next gear is selected and the drive is transferred between the two clutches and two drive shafts. This YouTube video explains the PDK system.
The LEGO PDK gearbox works slightly differently to the real version. As most of the engineering is hidden underneath the panelling, I have taken some simplified images with the panelling removed.
The two driving rings are controlled by the 9M steering arms which are linked to the PDK selector shaft. This shaft has two orange 1x2 beams with cross hole, which are out of phase by 90°. As you move the PDK paddles on the steering column, the yellow knob wheel rotates 90°, advancing or retarding the gear selected.
The new red gear-shifter-connector allows the driving rings to slide smoothly between the red clutch gears. There are eleven instances of this new part in this set, and it is used to join axles together, as can be seen in the image below.
If you change gears slowly, or only half move a paddle, it is possible to have two gears engaged momentarily.
Here is a view which includes the steering column, paddles and gear selector mechanism. If you plan to build your car with right hand steering, the yellow knob wheels must be located on the other side where the yellow cross axle joint is located.
The upper drive shaft in the image below connects the forward-and-reverse gear box to the differential.
I have been told that the white 24-tooth friction coupling sometimes slips, particularly in 1st gear, but I have not had this problem. There is quite a lot of friction between this coupling and the engine.
Here is a close-up view of the forward-and-reverse gear box. There is only one white gear-shifter-connector in this set, and here it is.
The completed model
Here is a side view of the car. At 71 studs long, this car is the longest Technic super car, beating 853 Car Chassis by 5 studs.
And the rear view of the car. 8865 Test Car is the widest Technic super car at 32 studs. At 31 studs wide, the 911 GT3 RS is only one stud narrower.
These dimensions make the Technic model 1:8, 1:7.6 and 1:8.7 scale respectively when compared to the real car's length, width and height.
Here are a few more comparison views.
Andrew Woodman, Senior Design Manager for LEGO Technic, hints that the current 911 GT3 RS is the first vehicle in a new LEGO Technic series. Have a look at the cars that LEGO currently has licences for. I wonder what Technic car will be produced next.
Creator Expert Technic theme
There is quite a lot of detail in this set. For me, it feels as if this is a Creator Expert Technic set and deserves a new theme designation to distinguish it from regular Technic sets.
It is solidly built and weighs 2.48 kg (5 ½ lbs). It has 17 7x5 beam frames to brace the rigid chassis.
This year has seen a shift in Technic sets towards a completely closed-in panel look. Several people commented on my review of 42052 Heavy Lift Helicopter that LEGO could include more plates and tiles for lights or detailing; this set's design has moved in this direction.
As with the Creator Expert trains, this set should have been motorised with Power Functions; however, this feature is absent. There is no provision in the instructions to show how to add Power Functions to the model.
An XL motor can be installed if the flat-six boxer engine is removed. The battery box can be placed where the forward-and-reverse gear box is located. Either the battery's polarity or IR speed remote control could control the forward or reverse function. Removing this gear box would also simplify some gearing.
I will be looking at removing the paddle steering column and mounting this on an IR speed remote control so that it can control a servo motor which will then rotate the DPK selector shaft. A second servo motor will fit under the bonnet for the steering.
Like the Creator Expert trains, these Power Function parts will add to the cost of this set, and like those trains, the brick-built engine must be removed.
I would like to see more of the fantastic engineering in the set and I am disappointed that the key features are hidden under panels. It seems to me that there is no reason to have all this functioning intricate engineering when it cannot be seen.
I think that some transparent panels could be produced as a service pack so people can choose whether the engineering can be seen. A similar transparent panel was seen in the side of Creator Expert 10241 Maersk Line Triple E ship to reveal its engine room.
Despite this set being in development for three years and scrutinised by both the senior LEGO Technic design team and the engineering team at Porsche, I am surprised that the gears are in the wrong order. This is an iconic engineering feature of the 911 GT3 RS and this fault should not have occurred. Fortunately, it is a simple mistake to fix.
I believe that this is a symptom of having the gearing and engine hidden under the panelling.
As pointed out in this review, the instructions could be more concise in a few places.
The steering has a very poor steering lock. The turning diameter is a massive 2.0 m (6.6 ft); this is more than twice the radius of its predecessor 8660 Car Chassis (84 cm / 33 inch). If this were scaled up, the turning diameter would be 16 m (52.5 ft). The steering lock could be improved with the development of a new shaped 5x2 half beam.
Despite using hard shock absorbers, due to the weight of the model, the car runs aground easily. The ground clearance is only 8 mm (5/16 inch); it is a race car after all.
There is poor access to the steering wheel and paddle gear shifters, so it is difficult to operate these controls.
Compare the price-per-part for the Flagship Technic sets over the last four years (GBP / USD / Euro):
- 2013: Mobile Crane MKII, 2606 parts, 5.8p / 8.4c / 7.7c, Power Functions.
- 2014: Volvo L350F Wheeled Loader, 1636 parts, 10.4p / 15.3c / 13.4c, extensive Power Functions.
- 2015: 42043 Mercedes-Benz Arcos, 2793 parts, 6.1p / 8.2c / 7.2c, Power Functions.
- 2016: Porsche 911 GT3 RS, 2704 parts, 9.2p / 11.1c / 11.1c, No Power Functions.
This is an expensive set and the high price will put many people off purchasing it. There are others who will buy this set regardless of price.
My building experience
This set took three nights of solid Technic building to complete. By the end of the first night I had completed box 1 and was amazed at the ingenious PDK gearbox.
As the build progressed through box 2 and 3 during the second night, I was disappointed that the engineering was slowly disappearing from view. I have to confess that I like the skeletal look of traditional Technic sets. I realise that this set's enclosed panel look is liked by many people.
By the time the model was complete, I had grown to like the finished look of the car. It is clearly a Porsche 911 and I like the colour scheme.
This is a display set and it loses some playability because the steering wheel and paddles are hard to operate.
I can see how licensing affects the price; however, the benefits of LEGO producing a set like this has advantages for both companies and I believe it is a privilege to have LEGO knock at your door to produce something from your stock.
The packing is superior to the usual LEGO boxes and the instruction book is more like a coffee table owners-manual.
The release of this set has been hugely anticipated; I would definitely purchase this set although I realise that it is expensive.
Thanks to Sabrina Cornelius of the Porsche Media Team for permission to use Porsche images in this review.
Thanks to Crowkillers for the tip-off about the gearbox issue.
Thanks, also, to Continental Cars, Newmarket, Auckland NZ for permission to use their showroom as a backdrop for my last image.
Finally, thanks to The LEGO Group for sending me the set to review.
This set was provided for review by The LEGO Group but the review is an expression of my own opinions.