TWO SPOOLING, TWO BURNING

WITH OUTPUTS UP AND ITS KILLER REPUTATION REFINED, PORSCHEíS LATEST GT2 RS IS LESS WIDOW MAKER, MORE HAYMAKER

WORDS ALEX INWOOD

RED ALCANTARA HIGHLIGHTS ARE OPTIONAL, THANKFULLY, AS ARE THE CARBON WHEEL SPOKES AND SHIFT PADDLES, WHICH SAVE 0.2KG COMPARED TO METAL ONES. HYDRAULIC LIFT KIT ALSO AVAILABLE TO AVOID NOSE SCRAPES, THOUGH ADDS 4.0KG.

TíS NOT quite a gasp, more a sharp, involuntary hiss that rushes through my teeth as the brake pedal at 290km/h and watch, wide-eyed, as the shimmying silver rump of a 918 Spyder grows ever larger through the windscreen. Porscheís reborn 911 GT2 RS is fractionally better under brakes than its four-year-old hypercar (thank a lighter 1440kg kerb weight), but for a heartbeat I panic, worried Iíve left it too late to hammer the left pedal. A finger of white hot fear flashes up my spine as I quickly calculate the cost of this potentially monumental cock-up ($1,500,000 + $645,700 = $2,145,700) but then the GT2ís Michelins bite, the moment passes, and weíre off again: me in the GT2 chasing Porscheís test driver as we climb and turn around Portugalís Portimao circuit.

Itís a demanding track this, made more so by the GT2ís prodigious performance. Forget for a moment that this is a car infamously known as the ĎWidow Makerí and consider the numbers: 515kW/750Nm, two swollen turbos, rear-wheel drive and a Nurburgring lap time of 6m47s, which incidentally, makes it the fastest production car ever to lap the Green Hell. If the naturally aspirated GT3 RS is the scalpel-sharp, trackhoned member of the 911 family, the GT2 is the slightly unhinged one. The scary one.

Porsche proudly admits it wanted the GT2 to be wild, to command respect, and even Mark Webber, a man capable of extracting the maximum from an F1 car and who helped develop the GT2, says it needs to be driven with a degree of caution.

Itís enough to make you think Porscheís 911 flagship will be boosty, edgy, unforgiving, unpredictable. Yet strangely, itís not. Well, not intimidatingly so. Yes this is a car that demands your full attention when driven quickly, but itís no window-licking, straitjacket-wearing lunatic. Itís easier to explore the outer limits of grip than I expected, to hold small slides on corner exit th t h th h t th I hit th b k d l and revel in the sheer power and tsunami of torque delivered by the twin-turbo six. Itís the same basic 3.8-litre unit used in the Turbo, only tweaked to produce 118kW more in a body weighing 155kg less.

Larger turbos deliver most of the leap in grunt, helped by bespoke pistons, a modified crankcase, a reshaped carbonfibre air intake and a free-flowing titanium exhaust, the latter saving 7.5kg over the rear axle.

Thereís a water-spray cooling system too, fed by a 5-litre tank housed in the boot, that shoots water onto the larger, redesigned intercoolers to help reduce charge air temperature.

Deploy all this at the track and the results are remarkable. I canít think of a stronger factory-spec turbocharged engine on sale and itís a unit that oozes its own unique personality. Truly engaging turbo engines are rare, and while it mightnít have the spinetingling howl or stratospheric top-end of the GT3ís free-breathing 4.0 (max engine speed here is 7200rpm), the GT2 is angrier, with a blunter, beefier soundtrack that seems to come from deep within. And the way it accelerates is ferocious. Porsche claims 0-100km/h in 2.8sec but itís how the GT2 piles on speed beyond three figures thatís most impressive. Even at 290km/h at the end of Portimaoís long straight itís pulling just as hard; no fuss, no unnerving wobbles or hiccups, just pure, unrelenting speed. This makes it wildly addictive on track, but point the GT2ís jutting front splitter at the public road and it demands a slight recalibration.

Suddenly, even gentle squeezes of the throttle, or swift prods to execute an overtake, result in velocities that will have the authorities scrambling for their infringement pads. The strengthened seven-speed PDK gearbox, which uses shorter ratios and elements from the 918 Spyder, plays a part here too, delivering swift upshifts to make the torrent of acceleration feel virtually seamless. d li d b th t i t b i Ití th b i

IF THE GT3 IS THE SCALPEL-SHARP, TRACK-HONED 911, THE GT2 RS IS THE SLIGHTLY UNHINGED ONE

The real magic, however, lies not in this insatiable 911.

Thereís aero trickery afoot too. Like the GT3, the GT2 uses the wide body from the Turbo but the aero package is more aggressive, with wider intakes at the front and on the bulging haunches, taller carbon fins over the appetite for speed, but in how the GT2 drives.

Suspension changes include stiffer springs and softer anti-roll bars than the GT3 for a set-up thatís closer to Porscheís Cup car, and the results are rock-solid body control and unerring grip during steady state cornering.

Rear-wheel steering does its bit to aid stability, as does a unique calibration for the chassis electronics tasked with containing the forces sent through the specially developed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s (265/35R20 front and 325/30R21 out back) Ė the rears claiming the crown of the widest tyres ever fitted to a 911 front wheel arches and a huge, adjustable rear-wing.

Those seeking an even more hostile appearance and performance bent can tick the optional Weissach pack that, for $69,990, adds a titanium rollcage, carbon anti-roll bars and suspension couplings, magnesium wheels, and a carbon roof in place of the standard the rev range. There are no engine modes to play with, just a PDK Sport setting for the gearbox, a button for the dampers and another for the exhaust, and while there is some lag low in the rev range (peak torque magnesium one. You also get carbon spokes on the steering wheel and carbon shift paddles, a six-point racing harness, plus bonnet stripes and PORSCHE emblazoned across the rear wing. All up the pack saves 30kg, bringing the GT2ís kerb weight down to 1440kg (just 20kg more than the GT3 RS, despite the extra hardware), and Porsche expects 80 to 90 percent of owners to go for it. ďWhen youíre spending this kind of money you donít care,Ē says Frank Walliser, vice president of Porsche motorsport and GT cars. ďWhen you can get something that makes your car more special, you just do it.Ē

The risk with being so heavily turbocharged is that the GT2 will feel boosty and lethargic, especially at low rpm, yet itís surprisingly responsive. And Iím stunned at how the power builds as the tacho sweeps through

RAKE ADJUSTMENT

Rear-wing angle can be altered for optimal drag/downforce mix. axle at 340km/h Vmax In ĎTrackí setting 271kg of downforce is generated over the rear

CAGED ANIMAL

Titanium rollcage included in $70K Weissach pack saves steel cage, if asked. 9kg, but isnít FIA approved. Porsche will revert to regular carís


COOL IT, SQUIRT

Frank Walliser admits Porsche sets power targets for all its engines, except for the GT2ís. It was simply, ďAs much as possible.

No matter what!Ē Higher output turbos with 67mm compressor wheels (up 9mm compared to Turbo S) and 55mm turbines (up 7mm) account for the extra mumbo, with a lift in boost to 22.5psi.

To aid cooling, larger intercoolers swallow 27 percent more air and are repositioned for greater efficiency. Charge air is further controlled under extreme conditions by a water-spray system that squirts onto the intercooler when intake temps exceed 50 degrees, 90 percent throttle is applied and engine speed is above 3000rpm.

SIZE ADVANTAGE

Carbon fins over front Turbo S to aid cooling. wheel arches even larger than GT3 RS to reduce wheel well pressure. Hip-mounted vents bigger than on

DUCTED AIR-CON

Bonnet nostrils called 390mm at the rear.

ĎNACA ductsí feed air to carbon-ceramic brakes that measure 410mm up front with six pistons, and


MEET THE ANCESTORS

993

A mere 57 cars built between 1993-í98, so massively collectible.

Started with 316kW from the 3.6-litre air-cooled six; ended with 331kW. No driver aids, hence the nickname and reputation.

996

Arrived two years after the debut of the regular 996 range, initially packing 340kW from the nowwater- coooled, four-valve 3.6-litre six. Copped a power hike later in its life to 355kW; trim at 1430kg.

997

Saw the introduction of variable geometry turbines for the twin turbos, ramping power to 390kW, but also fattening the torque curve.

Pulled 0-100km/h in 3.9sec and on to a 328km/h top speed.

arrives between 2500 and 4500rpm), the base engine is strong enough that it never really feels off boost. And because the power delivery is so immediate, with slight adjustments of the throttle altering the carís attitude, itís easy to attack in the GT2.

But itís the stream of feedback that defines the experience. Information fed through your hands, feet and bum provides an uncommon connection to the road; enough to sense, in detail, when the Michelins are approaching the limits of adhesion.

The standard carbon-ceramic brakes are a highlight too, not only for their sheer 918 Spyder-avoiding stopping force, but for the feel through the pedal and their unwavering performance.

Yet despite the obvious highs, the GT2 isnít as intuitive or as forgiving to drive on the limit as a GT3.

Perhaps itís the weight of the turbos, but youíre more aware that the GT2 is rear-engined; that a significant portion of the carís mass is positioned behind the rear axle. And despite the immediacy of its controls, if you lift fractionally mid-corner or get too greedy on corner exit, thereís an edginess lurking beneath the surface that harks back to GT2s of old.

On the road, things are surprisingly civilised. Thereís orner ace hereís no escaping that the track-focused suspension is taut, but it never crashes through. And while you do notice the lack of travel over big bumps, the body is tightly controlled, at least on Portuguese back roads. It feels as agreeable as a GT3, only arguably takes less effort to drive quickly. Where the GT3 comes alive high in the rev range, the GT2ís huge reserves of torque make it an instantly gratifying experience, as the PDK quickly and intuitively cycles through the ratios to keep the engine in its fat mid-range. Only a high degree of road and tyre noise, and a booming exhaust drone under light load (if you leave the exhaust button switched on) detract from what is an otherwise perfectly liveable experience on the road.

So is the GT2 RS the ultimate 911? If your measuring sticks are pure speed and excitement then yes, absolutely. Nothing in the current range comes close for white-knuckle exhilaration or delivers such an adrenaline hit. Whether itís as rewarding, or as pure, as a GT3, which costs significantly less, is debatable, but the GT2 RS feels analogue, special and while not as scary as its forebears, remains a car that demands a certain level of respect. It is, quite simply, the alpha male in the 911 range.

BALLS BUSTED

Just how hardcore your GT2 is, is up to you. If lightness is everything, delete luxuries like the reversing camera, radio and even the air conditioning.

The latter saves 19kg, but Porsche says ďif you want to use the car, keep the a/c. We keep it in our race cars.Ē

All pivot points and suspension bushings are replaced by motorsport-derived rose joints, which arenít great for refinement, but provide greater precision and a stiffer connection to the chassis.

Model Porsche 911 GT2 RS Engine 3800cc flat-six, dohc, 24v, twin turbo Max power 515kW @ 7000rpm Max torque 750Nm @ 2500-4500rpm Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch Weight 1470kg 0-100km/h 2.8sec (claimed) Economy 11.8L/100km Price $645,700 On sale Q1 2018