- Nov 28, 2004
- Oslo, Norway
- Mostly my feet, occasionally a Tesla
There are a few car magazines out there who have gotten their hands on the new 911 GT2 RS, all of them agree it's pretty spectacular to drive...
First up, Pistonheads:
Chris Harris has tested it for EVO
First up, Pistonheads:
DRIVEN: PORSCHE 911 GT2 RS
Just 500 people will own it, and most of us can only dream. Adam Towler drives it for PH
Time for some names and numbers. First there was 'Lighty' - that's what the 'GTX' department (the division of Porsche Motorsport responsible for all GT3 and GT2 models) christened the car as their fanatical obsession with saving grams took hold. Next came 'The Beast' - self-explanatory that one. Then there was 'Project 7m27', which was fine, briefly, and even made it onto some design sketches until that particular 'Ring target was obliterated. You get the feeling that there might be some other, perhaps more colourful nicknames, but Andreas Preuninger - head of GTX - simply smiles.
Then there are the numbers: 0-62mph in 3.5sec - unquestionably rapid in the extreme, but far more telling for any powerful, rear-drive car is the 0-100mph time: 6.8sec, and with 0-124mph in 9.8sec. Or there's the 0-186mph time of 28.9sec, that's before topping out at 205mph.
It weighs 1370kg to DIN standard (70kg lighter than the already pared-down GT2), and just 1280kg 'dry' - only 80kg more than the naturally aspirated GT3 Cup competition car. That DIN figure includes 30kg of coolant alone. It has 453hp per ton, and 377lb ft per ton, the peak of the latter is available from just 2250rpm all the way to 5500rpm. It's interesting to do the same maths with some rivals...
Onto the Nurburgring Nordschleife then, which it laps in 7m18sec, some 14sec faster than a GT2, during which it's hitting 180mph approaching Schwedenkreuz, around 170mph in the Foxhole compression and 192mph at the D?ttinger H?he. So, extraordinary numbers, and they certainly make entertaining reading, but they don't fully relate the human story of this project, or tell the complete picture of how the car actually drives. The latter, in some respects, is something of a surprise.
The GT2 RS started out as an unofficial 'hobby' project within Motorsport to create a GT2 'Lightweight'. The idea germinated at the final test session of the gen1 997 GT2 at Estoril back in December 2006. Both Preuninger and Karsten Schebsdat (development of performance manager at GTX) felt the gen1 GT2 had more still to offer and set about proving it. They created a test mule and, with brutal weight saving measures, shaved 100kg off the kerb weight, while the engine guys found another 30hp, taking the total to 560hp. A new car was born, which very quickly received the RS label from anyone who sampled it. When Rohrl recorded a 7m32 at the 'Ring in the GT2 during the spring of 2007, there was another car tucked away in the garage which the engineers suggested he might like to try for himself. Typically, Rohrl jumped at the chance and clocked 7m29 on his first lap in 'Lighty': all the ammo Preuninger needed to approach the board with his proposal.
It's a shame, because there isn't the space here to go into every weight-saving detail of the GT2 RS but to be walked around the car by the engineers is a fascinating insight into their attention to detail. Forget the previous GT2, and imagine instead the latest gen2 GT3 RS as the starting point, complete with all its trick carbon fibre bits, the polycarbonate rear 'screen, the 'lightweight' interior with its fixed-back carbon bucket seats and the centre-lock alloy wheels.
But this car then saves further weight in the body through polycarbonate rear side glass, a beautifully made carbon fibre bonnet (a 2.5kg saving over the aluminium one), and front wings made from carbon fibre, with the wheel arch extensions now part of the mould (unlike with the GT3 RS). In fact there are carbon fibre parts all over the car now, especially inside the cooling apertures.
There's also less soundproofing that saves 4kg, and each of the 500 lighter carpet sets had to be shaped by hand; a lithium ion battery saves 14kg; there's the usual monstrous carbon ceramic brakes, and the deletion of the roof rack channels saves 500g. Continuing through the car, 10kg was shed from the suspension components, with a number of bits now being manufactured from aluminium. The GT2 RS has 'linear' rate springs on the rear axle in conjunction with small helper springs that combined weigh less than the usual 'progressive rate' items.
One of the key objectives during the development process was moving up to a 245-section front tyre (from 235 on the GT3 RS), which caused all sorts to packaging problems for a while including wheel-well rubbing at the Foxhole on the 'Ring. But the gain has been a 10 per cent increase in the side force generated, and while it was impossible to go any larger than the already massive 325-section rears, the rear suspension now uses various rose joints to more precisely locate elements of the rear suspension.
Aerodynamics next, and the adoption of a GT3 RS-style front splitter and a larger rear wing equates to 60 per cent more downforce than the GT2. An emergency lane-change at 186mph generates 1.2g and leaves thick rubber marks on the road. Allegedly. Meanwhile, Preuninger and his team had been cajoling the engine department to find even more power and the output kept on rising. The new engine features larger, more efficient intercoolers, a new lightweight plastic intake system and stronger conrods so it can cope with 1.6 Bar of boost pressure, passing the full range of temperature and durability tests like any new Porsche as it does so.
What I'm about to say might sound incredibly tedious, but what initially strikes you about the GT2 RS is just how easy and pleasant it is to drive. After all the talk of numbers, it's a shock to discover that it rides so well - better than a Carrera blighted by the Sport suspension 'upgrade' - and that the controls, thanks to their lightness of touch and precision, are so easy to work with in normal driving. The car feels so alert and biddable, you find yourself wishing all 911 Turbos would drive like this.
But of course, sooner or later, it's time to give it the lot and when you do you end up frantically trying to scrape your eyebrows off the inside of the rear 'screen. It's the sort of car where a cheeky blast up to 180mph on a country road is often entirely feasible; where a 140mph stroll is perfectly ordinary (at which cruising speed Preuninger reckons you'll see 28mpg!). It is insanely fast. Fourth gear is particularly amusing: because the peak torque is so low you can be trundling along in traffic and just stretch your big toe to get past vehicles in a superbike fashion. And then you can just leave it in that gear until you're at silly three-figure numbers. It's like a bizarre automatic 'box. One speed.
But the more you drive the car, the more the speed 'thing' becomes a secondary feature. It's so far from being point and squirt: it's engaging and cohesive to drive in a manner turbocharged 911s normally can't quite reach. The steering is just sublime, and the amount of front-end grip it generates is colossal. The more you drive it hard, the better the understanding you have with it, the more you smile. You end up almost taking the performance for granted because you just know there's always going to be enough acceleration for the next straight bit of road, although that's not to say you get used to it. Even if you owned it, there'd always be a narrow, or bumpy or wet piece of road, or perhaps a shocking overtake that'd instantly remind you of its nuclear lunacy.
At ?167,915 the GT2 RS looks like something of a performance bargain relative to its peers, but of those with that kind of money to spend some will quite legitimately baulk at the lack of a charismatic 8, 10 or 12 pot wail, a low, supercar silhouette that stops pedestrians in their tracks and a beautiful interior. And although it's entirely academic, I suspect there'll be plenty of people who might recoil in horror at spending the price of a new Carrera over that of the awesome GT3 RS: they'd miss that car's manic raw aggression too, its immediate throttle response, lofty rev limit and heavenly soundtrack.
But those seeking the ultimate 911 shouldn't and won't care, because they've found it. For those lucky, lucky 500, this awe-inspiring device is a reality. A machine of enormous speed and capabilities, it's an unforgettable drive: a split personality of light and dark, of cheek-splitting enjoyment and unabated terror. A beast.
On that last point Walter Rohrl has the last word in response to a question, from me (delivered with stupid grin and suitable reverence): "Is it a bit interesting in the wet then, Walter?"
The answer, from Walter (with a similarly exaggerated face of fear to the one he used moments earlier when we were chatting about the 1981 Silverstone 1000kms: driving a monster of a 935 with an experimental 800bhp motor, in the rain, he won, while going mostly sideways): "Ja...you can be sure..."
First drive: Porsche 911 GT2 RS
What is it?
Legalised insanity from those wacky folk in Porsche?s Motorsport department or, to put it another way, the maddest production car ever to wear the shield of Stuttgart on its nose. And, no, we haven?t forgotten the Carrera GT. This new GT2 RS is a smidge lighter, a touch more powerful and a vast amount more torquey even than Porsche?s street-spec Le Mans car of 2003.
To achieve that Porsche married the twin turbo 3.6-litre motor from the outgoing GT2 to a substantially modified version of ultra-hardcore chassis of the current GT3 RS. Then, just to make sure the union got off with a bang, it upped the boost of the motor from 1.4 to 1.6bar, neatly liberating another 88bhp to finally gain entry for the 911 to the rather exclusive club of standard production cars with over 600bhp - 611bhp, to be precise.
But this gives no impression of the true potential on tap and for two reasons. First, it gives no account of torque which, when 516lb ft of the stuff sits under your right foot at 2250rpm, is kind of hard to ignore. For comparison?s sake, the Ferrari 458 Italia that everyone?s going to compare the GT2 RS with has just 398lb ft, and you have to wait until the engine is spinning at a dizzying 6000rpm before it can be accessed.
The second unavoidable consideration is weight; at 1370kg, the GT2 RS is not only 70kg lighter than the old GT2, it is also 115kg lighter than the 458. Get this for a fact: not even Ferrari?s 599 GTO can get anywhere near the power-to-weight ratio of this Porsche. But the Porsche costs a little over ?164,000, the Ferrari a little less than ?300,000.
What?s it like?
Rather boring - if you happen to be an astronaut, top fuel dragster driver or land speed record holder. For the rest of us it shouldn?t come with GT2 RS decals down the side but government health warnings. Those of a nervous disposition or in less-than-complete cardiac health really should avoid this car like a seafood stall in downtown Cairo.
The problem is, it actually appears comparatively tame at first. It makes a lot less noise than the standard GT3 you can buy for half the money, and responds to your first tentative prods of the accelerator rather gently. Conceivably this is a car you could use everyday thanks to a firm but supple ride, tolerable noise levels in the cabin (it?s quieter by far than a Boxster Spyder with the roof up) and Porsche?s typically effective driving environment.
But if you show it the stick you had better had your wits about you. Forget the 3.5sec run to 62mph, because that says everything about the traction limitations of two-wheel drive (a normal Turbo S is quicker over this measure) and nothing about the pulverising acceleration that?s actually available. More meaningful is the 6.8sec it takes to hit 100mph from rest, which puts it within half a second of McLaren F1 pace. If you put your foot down at 100mph, by the time you?ve registered and taken stock of what?s happening you?ll be at or past 130mph.
It asks questions almost any chassis would struggle to answer, but not this one. Although it?s essentially the same as that which underpins the GT3 RS, there are detail differences: rose joints in the suspension for a bit more wheel control, a different compound and construction (though no change in size) for the sticky Michelin Cup tyres.
But for all its speed, neck-snapping grip and improbable poise, the GT2 RS is a less intimate experience than its GT3 RS stablemate. The noise isn?t there which is an inevitable consequence of this kind of forced induction and, for the same reason, nor is the throttle response.
It has the balance of the GT3 RS, thanks to sharing its wider front track, and bites into the apex with the same alacrity as a result, but once there it provides you with fewer options to tune your line through the corner as well as a fairly serious caveat that this is a car you mess with at your peril. The fact that it has almost 200 less easily modulated lb ft of torque, 4500rpm lower down the range, should serve as all the warning you should need.
Should I buy one?
There is nothing like the GT2 RS and that?s an almost entirely good thing. Even so, unless you always dreamed of being a human cannonball, a GT3RS offers a purer driving experience, and the fact that you?ll have to part with around the price of a new standard 911 for the upgrade seems hard to justify at first.
On the other hand, find another car that goes like this for this kind of money, and combines that with 'drive it any day, park it anywhere' ease of ownership. In fact, don?t bother, because it doesn?t exist. I expect the majority of the 500 lucky people who will get to own a GT2 RS will be Porsche completists, unable to bear the idea that someone other than them is enjoying Stuttgart?s ultimate road car, at least until the 918 comes out. And enjoy it they will, for driving a GT2 RS is one of few experiences you know will lodge in your brain forever. It really is that good.
- Andrew Frankel
Chris Harris has tested it for EVO
Porsche 911 GT2 RS review
Flat out in the fastest 911 ever. Chris Harris drives Porsche's 611bhp, 205mph rear-drive GT2 RS
What is it?
A ?164,107 Porsche 911, with 611bhp and 516lb ft. It is the fastest 911 ever to leave the factory. Its sole aim appears to be putting every Porsche tuner out of business ? I mean how much more power do you really need?
The base engine is identical to the 997 GT2 (which is no longer built), but runs different turbochargers, new intercoolers, new pistons and a new engine management system to run 1.6 bar of boost, over the last cars 1.4bar. Claimed performance is of the ?what-the-hell? variety with 0-62mph in 3.5sec, 0-100mph in 6.8sec and a ?Ring lap of 7min 18sec.
The chassis is basically slightly up-rated GT3 RS, which is a pretty solid base. There are a few adjustments to fit this turbo application and for even better response the rear axle has more solid linkages than the GT3 RS.
Aerodynamically, it?s quite similar to the 997 GT2, but runs a new splitter, new rear diffuser and an extra gurney on the rear wing. Doesn?t sound like much, but it nearly has as much downforce as the GT3 RS. All that carbon, plus plastic rear and side windows shave 70kg over the last GT2.
What?s it like to drive?
Comedy fast. I jumped out of a new 997 Turbo S into this thing and, at first, wondered what the fuss was all about. Being turbocharged, it doesn?t make much noise and it?s so easy to drive at low speed, rides so well, that you treat it like any normal 911.
The fixed buckets are identical to the GT3 RS?s, the dash is plain 911, there?s far less induction noise than you get in the normally aspirated cars. It?s actually all a little disappointing until you open the taps in third and the car drags the horizon onto your forehead.
There?s no PDK option, just a robust, short-throw manual. The clock would have you believe that a Turbo S is quicker to 62 and as fast to 100mph, but, as ever, the clock lies. This car is different-world fast to the Turbo S.
And of course it?s a challenge for the driver. No other turbocharged 911 comes close to offering the chassis balance that this car does. It has monster front?axle grip and it doesn?t set to that initial understeer that used to plague the 996 GT2. You turn, it grips, the motor lunges, the front axle grips more, then the crazy traction takes-over on the exit of turns. The steering is stunning. Drive it fast, use its potential for a few minutes and you have to back-away before the numbers get silly. The traction and stability control calibration is a masterstroke: you can use so much of the performance, so much of the time.
It?s freakishly comfortable too. Occasionally a low speed bump elicits a creak from those rear rose-joints, otherwise it rides no more harshly than a Carrera on sports suspension. In fact it might just be more supple.
I saw 334kmh on the speedo, and it was still pulling like a mentalist.
How does it compare?
It?s faster, more useable and far cheaper than a 599 GTO. But then it doesn?t feel as special, isn?t lathered in as much carbon and is virtually mute compared to the musical Fandango. Neither the Lamborghini LP670 SV or LP570-4 SL are as quick or as capable. But again they both trounce the GT2 RS for sheer drama.
Anything else I need to know?
Those front wings are new for this car. Instead of the GT3 RS?s ugly extensions, they?re one-piece items, albeit an optional one. It?s very expensive and doesn?t sound as good as the GT3 RS, and they should be making 300, not 500. But this is a remarkable car. Veyron aside, it?s the fastest road car I?ve driven ? but it?s completely useable and it still involves you in the process. Want.