Respect needed to tame a widow-maker
DRIVING IMPRESSION/ Lerato Matebese donned his racing gloves and headed to the Western Cape to drive the Porsche 911 GT2 RS
Very few cars have the infamous reputation of being referred to as the widow-maker. The Porsche 911 GT2, which first broke cover in 1993 in the 993 mould was not only the most powerful 911 of all time at the time, but it was also notorious for taming and curbing overzealous drivers with its savage, snappy rear-end. Try to grab it by the scruff of the neck and wrestle it and it would send you into the hedge rear-end first. It was a reputation that continued in the 996 and 997 models.
So, when I was invited to drive the latest variant of the model in the Western Cape recently, it was with both trepidation and excitement. I was finally going to drive the last word in the Porsche 911 portfolio in the form of the 991.2 GT2 RS, which packs 515kW and 750Nm and sends it all to the rear axle.
Oh dear, I thought to myself. Of course, being that time of the year in the Western Cape where inclement weather is the order of the day, I prayed for dry conditions while I was there.
Prior to taking command of the GT2 RS and conveying to you my experience of the vehicle, it is worth mentioning the number plate (6 47 3 GP) plastered to this car has a significance. It is essentially the time it took for the model to lap the Nurburgring, Nordschleife proving ground in Germany.
The model holds the lap record for production sports cars at the track, which also trounces the Porsche 918 hybrid hypercar and speaks volumes of the GT2 RS’s capabilities.
It has a host of lightweight materials, including a carbon fibre bonnet, fenders and rear wing, a magnesium roof and wheels, no rear seats and titanium roll cage, as part of the Weissach Package, which sheds an extra 20kg off the 1,470kg over a standard Club Sport package-equipped GT2 RS.
To bring that into context, that is a few kilos lighter than the Volkswagen Golf R and it packs more than double the Golf’s engine output. The whole body squats tightly over 265/35/20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres at the front and fat 325/30/21 gumballs at the rear.
The cabin sports lightweight bucket seats with carbon fibre shells, red Alcantara steering wheel and roof lining and just the bare driver essentials. Sound deadening materials have also been tossed.
Motivation comes in the form of a 3.8l, twin-turbo flat six, mated exclusively to a sevenspeed PDK gearbox and, with the aid of launch control, it can catapult from standstill to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds (0200km/h in 8.3 seconds) and on to a top speed of 340km/h.
Firing up the engine — particularly with the sports exhausts button activated — engulfs the cabin with a raucous bark before settling into a gurgling timbre just above idle.
Nosing the vehicle onto the road, the first thing you notice is how much more raw the thing feels over, say, the GT3 I drove at the end of 2017. The damping is quite firm and in line with what this thing can achieve once taken off the leash.
Of course, one always approaches a 700hp car with respect and once I was on some barren, mostly flat back roads, I primed the gearbox and suspension into their maximum attack setting, pulled the left carbon fibre steering paddle and mashed the pedal with abandon. for the first time since I had set off that morning.
As with most turbocharged cars, there is a momentary pause before things start to happen, but nothing quite primes your senses for what is an avalanche of power and torque served up in one fell swoop. The car squats, almost digging its spikes into the road like a 100m athlete would, and then pounds the tarmac into submission. The mechanical grip almost defies what should be possible for a rear-wheel drive car.
This thing goes like the proverbial bat out of hell and just keeps piling on the speed. It is a brutal animal for the most part, but a surprisingly cultured one that still needs to be treated with respect. However, all that colossal power is actually accessible with a linear almost flat torque curve that makes the McLaren 720S feel too peaky in its power delivery in comparison.
As mentioned, there is so much grip and composure through the bends that you can lean more on the chassis than you would care to imagine. Adopt a smooth driving style and the GT2 RS rewards handsomely, but treat it with disdain and it will be quick to display its widow-maker tendencies.
Everything about the GT2 RS is an event, from the raucous exhaust to the way it makes you feel so invincible behind the wheel. Whether it is the best 911 yet is a statement I can only conclude once I have driven the forthcoming GT3 RS.
However, as a driving machine with the ability to cover ground at the lick of a Boeing 737 on take-off, there are few cars that come close, certainly not at the price.
Top: Carbon fibre helps to reduce the weight significantly. Above: Every piece of aero is both functional and dramatic. Left: The Weissach Package provides plenty of red accents.
The Weissach Package also means nice seats, race belts and a half roll cage.