911, is that you?

CAR (UK) - - GT2 RS on the road - Words Ge­org Kacher | Pho­tog­ra­phy John Wy­cher­ley

Re­mem­ber when the 911 was a cute, ag­ile and rel­a­tively mod­est sports coupe with just enough power and torque? Turns out there was some head­room on it… Join us for a wild on-road ride in the 690bhp, £207,506 GT2 RS

T HERE WAS A TIME when Porsche fit­ted two grab han­dles to ev­ery 911, but those days are long gone. What keeps you as a pas­sen­ger firmly locked in po­si­tion in the lat­est 911 GT2 RS are Lu­cifer-red seat­belts, a bucket seat so tight that your ribs, once hugged, don’t quite re­turn to their orig­i­nal shape, and an un­shake­able be­lief in the power elec­tr0nics have to pre­vent what should, by rights, be sev­eral large ac­ci­dents per mile. Fi­nally there’s the driv­ing skill of the pro at the wheel, Uwe Braun, head of de­vel­op­ment for Porsche GT.

The vet­eran Porsche en­gi­neer reaches for the ig­ni­tion key, flashes a pol­ished ‘trust me’ smile, and pulls the trans­mis­sion lever into road-melt mode. If you think the new 493bhp and 339lb ft GT3 peels tar­mac like noth­ing else, you’re in for a shock. Re-clas­sify the GT3’s out­put as cute and ready your­self in­stead for the pretty in­ti­mate way in which 690bhp of power and 553lb ft of torque grab you by the bow­els. Un­spool­ing tur­bine-like en­ergy with ag­gres­sive vigour, this 911 builds enough lat­eral force to un­seat false teeth, sum­mons brak­ing to paste your wig to the wind­screen and un­leashes enough for­ward thrust to per­ma­nently tat­too the out­line of your RayBans to your face.

De­spite the re­lated nomen­cla­ture, the GT3 and the GT2 RS are worlds apart. It’s not merely a mat­ter of tur­bocharged vs nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine, XXL vs XL wing­work and PDK vs man­ual gear­box. What makes the big­gest difference is the com­bi­na­tion of nearly 200bhp more and over 200 ad­di­tional lb ft of torque. If you can sum­mon the for­ti­tude then the GT2 RS can ac­cel­er­ate from 0-62mph in 2.8sec and reach 211mph. Ques­tions, any­body?

The twin-turbo 3.8-litre boxer six fit­ted to the GT2 sounds like Wag­ner in his rel­a­tively poorly pub­li­cised techno phase. Wicked, evil, thud­ding and dark, the twin-turbo 24-valver is an acous­tic men­ace, and that’s with the ex­haust in its neigh­bour-friendly set­ting. Open the flaps and you risk par­tial deaf­ness. Wide-eyed and breath­ing heav­ily, as a pas­sen­ger you reg­is­ter slight nausea fol­lowed by goose pim­ples sprout­ing over arms, neck and legs.

Uncage the boxer be­hind your back and it turns up the vol­ume be­fore cli­max­ing in a tor­nado of deci­bels. Give it stick for a mile or two and the two cat­a­lysts lurk­ing be­hind the four obese tailpipes start glow­ing dark red, as if ex­ter­nal­is­ing your emo­tional re­ac­tion to this in­cred­i­bly fo­cused feat of per­for­mance en­gi­neer­ing. At this point, you might need a lit­tle rest.

The RS acro­nym stands for Rac­ing Sport, which is the do­main of An­dreas Pre­uninger and his team. They’ve done a thor­ough job of tweak­ing the spring and damper rates on the GT2 RS to al­most the same level as those of the Cup race cars, stiff­en­ing the sus­pen­sion and driv­e­train mounts, se­lect­ing ul­tra-high-per­for­mance tyres from Miche­lin and Dun­lop, en­larg­ing all cool­ing and ven­ti­la­tion ducts, and fit­ting an out­ra­geous set of aero aids. A strict car­bon­fi­bre4

On a three-lane stretch of au­to­bahn we brie ly see an in­di­cated 350km/h, or 217mph. 217mph

diet has kept the kerb weight un­der 1500kg (more money buys the 918-in­spired Weis­sach per­for­mance pack, which sheds an­other 30kg thanks to a com­pos­ite roof and anti-roll bars and mag­ne­sium wheels). You can delete air-con, sat-nav and the ra­dio, or con­versely you can pay ex­tra for elec­tri­cally ad­justable comfort seats. Af­ter all, the en­gine will barely no­tice the difference.

Pre­uninger is crys­tal clear on the GT2 RS re­mit. ‘We wanted to make a re­ally ex­plo­sive turbo en­gine be­cause that can be fun,’ he says, ap­par­ently ig­no­rant of the trend for de­cry­ing turbo en­gines and their blunted throt­tle re­sponse. ‘When you make a tur­bocharged en­gine that ex­plodes at higher revs that can be re­ally en­ter­tain­ing. On this car there is a lot of emo­tional com­po­nents, be­cause the sound is re­ally like a 930 from the 1980s. I re­ally wanted it to sound a lot dif­fer­ent than other Turbo mod­els, more sporty and more like the turbo era of the race cars.’

Uwe Braun is more prag­matic. For al­most an hour he is happy talk­ing tech and telling anec­dotes. Once he has lulled his co-driver into par­tial re­lax­ation, how­ever, Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood sud­denly turns into the Big Bad Wolf. A cou­ple of clicks on the down­shift pad­dle is all it takes to turn my world up­side-down and in­side-out. Full throt­tle in sec­ond gear, wah-wah, up to 7000rpm, 200rpm still to go to the lim­iter. Re­peat in third: a hard kick in the butt fol­lowed by sur­re­ally vi­o­lent for­ward thrust. Then it’s into fourth very briefly be­fore this awe­some tar­mac de­vourer runs out of in­creas­ingly nar­row road. Now hard on the brakes and then back in Drive un­til the dig­i­tal speedo falls back to 75mph.

What in the world was that? Less than nine sec­onds from nd zero to 125mph, and a level of ex­cite­ment that’s off the chart.

The car I’m rid­ing in (as op­posed to the one you’re look­ing at) is one of 18 pro­to­types. It only has about 4000 miles on the clock, but the body­work’s tell­tale scar­ring shows that those 4000 have been ex­tremely hard miles. Braun low­ers his vi­sor and starts work­ing the pad­dles, mak­ing the trans­mis­sion clap its light­weight fric­tion plates. A sud­den lift-off prompts a metal­lic clonk­ing, and when they’re cold the som­brero-size car­bon-ce­ramic brake discs chafe nois­ily. The tyres (265/35 ZR20 and 325/30 ZR21) join in, smack­ing and drum­ming on the road in sync with the su­per­nat­u­rally ef­fec­tive sus­pen­sion.

On a three-lane stretch of au­to­bahn, we very briefly see an in­di­cated 350km/h (217mph). 217mph. It feels like the next step is ac­tual lift-off, but in fact max­i­mum down­force is a for­mi­da­ble 350kg, two thirds of which is down to the wide tail rud­der alone.

Our breath­less road test route takes us east to west across the roller­coaster land­scape of the largely un­pop­u­lated Swabian Alb, which even to­day is 90% na­ture. When the wiry wizard from Weis­sach puts the ham­mer down hard, this 911 re­veals it­self to be at heart an old-school high-oc­tane tear­away that com­mands the road with elegance, re­as­sur­ing ex­act­ness and ex­treme ex­cite­ment. The GT2 RS is un­apolo­getic in

Ge­org gets a full brie ing ahead of his rapid pas­sen­ger ride in the GT2 RS

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