Porsche all the buttons
They’re always good cars, but the GT2 is special, writes KEVINHEPWORTH
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.