Porsche all the but­tons

They’re al­ways good cars, but the GT2 is spe­cial, writes KEVINHEPWORTH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News -

IF YOU could dis­til all that is good and de­sir­able across the Porsche range and bot­tle it, you would need a re­ally big bot­tle. You would also have some­thing like the GT2.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, Porsche builds out­stand­ing driv­ers’ cars. Oc­ca­sion­ally it pro­duces a real gem.

The new 997 GT2 is one of those gems. Built off the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion 911 ar­chi­tec­ture, the GT2 is de­scribed by Porsche it­self as a prod­uct from the com­pany’s spareparts bin.

‘‘The best bits of ev­ery­thing came to­gether to pro­duce this spe­cial car,’’ Porsche Cars Aus­tralia tech­ni­cal guru War­rick McKen­zie says.

Aus­tralian motorsport leg­end, Porsche en­thu­si­ast and Targa Tas­ma­nia ad­dict Jim Richards con­curs.

Of the two GT2s in Aus­tralia, Richards has one — and he’s pre­par­ing to fling the $425,700 rar­ity at the Tas­ma­nian scenery next week.

‘‘It is pretty much a ba­sic street car with a rollcage,’’ Richards says at East­ern Creek dur­ing the of­fi­cial launch of the car.

‘‘The only thing we have done to it so far is to put heav­ier springs — about 100kg — front and rear. That’s just to keep it from bot­tom­ing out on some of the Targa roads.

‘‘I will put in some dif­fer­ent brake pads be­fore Targa, but that will be it. There’s no time to do any­thing else.

‘‘Maybe I should run it in the show­room class, it is that stan­dard.’’

Richards is con­fi­dent that, in time, he could squeeze an ex­tra 60kW out of the GT2’s 3.6-litre bi-turbo boxer en­gine, but he’s happy enough to settle for the out-of-the-box 390kW and 680Nm. That is enough to reg­is­ter the 0-100km/h sprint in 3.7 sec­onds on the way to a top speed of 329km/h.

‘‘The torque is un­be­liev­able,’’ Richards says. ‘‘The thing will pull like a trac­tor in third gear.’’

De­spite the high price — al­most $95,000 more than the bru­tal Turbo Coupe— Porsche Aus­tralia says it is hold­ing con­firmed or­ders for 31 GT2s. The first gen­er­a­tion of the model in 1995 re­alised two sales in Aus­tralia; the sec­ond and prior model was good for 26 sales from 2001-2004.

‘‘We ex­pect to­tal sales to be 35 to 40,’’ Porsche Cars Aus­tralia di­rec­tor for sales and mar­ket­ing Kevin Ni­cholls says.

‘‘That will pretty much be de­ter­mined by pro­duc­tion re­straints — which will ul­ti­mately limit sup­ply, the same as for the GT3 RS.’’

McKen­zie says the en­gi­neers could have set the sys­tem so there would be ab­so­lutely no body roll.

‘‘In fact, there could be neg­a­tive in­put to ef­fec­tively roll the body away from the cor­ner forces,’’ he says. ‘‘But that was just too weird, so they have al­lowed some­thing in the or­der of two de­grees of body move­ment.’’

The 997 GT2 is also the first of its ilk to get vari­able steer­ing as­sis­tance, ce­ramic com­pos­ite brakes as stan­dard, ti­ta­nium muf­flers and pipes to re­duce rear-end weight, and a three-stage sta­bil­ity man­age­ment pro­gram.

In the ba­sic min­der set­ting the full sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol func­tions are oper­a­tive along with an­ti­skid brakes.

Switch off the first stage and the lat­eral-force con­trol func­tions are de­ac­ti­vated, al­low­ing the car to move around the axis.

Sec­ond-stage de­ac­ti­va­tion re­moves the lon­gi­tu­di­nal or trac­tion- con­trol mon­i­tors, al­low­ing for wheel spin. Anti-skid brak­ing re­mains ac­tive at all times.

The thing to re­mem­ber when driv­ing the GT2 is that off means off. There is no pre­set panic point at which the elec­tronic min­ders jump in and try to undo the harm when am­bi­tion over­takes abil­ity.

What is not new in the GT2 is the six-speed man­ual box. And that is a good thing.

The ba­sic de­sign of the shifter goes back to the late 1980s. Small mod­i­fi­ca­tions, gen­er­a­tion on gen­er­a­tion, have pro­duced a thing of great beauty.

The shifts are short and pre­cise, if a lit­tle notchy, but it is the lit­tle things most own­ers will never see that set apart the Porsche phi­los­o­phy.

The gears are in­serted, not pressed, into the gear­box shafts, al­low­ing for easy re­place­ment and giv­ing the owner the op­por­tu­nity to ad­just the gear­box to suit any track.

The syn­chro­nis­ing rings are also made of steel rather than the more usual brass — not as durable, but slicker.

Yet, though the tech­nol­ogy of the GT2 may be what earns your re­spect, it is the man­ners and the char­ac­ter of the car that will win your bound­less love.

The GT2 is pure class.

Porsche and quicks: the $425,700 Porsche GT2 has a top speed of 329km/h. Porsche Aus­tralia claims to have con­firmed or­ders for 31.

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