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2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS review

 Seven hundred: That was the magic number for engineers as they began honing the fastest 911 of all time.

Early in the development process of the GT2 RS they’d eked 650 horsepower from the 3.8-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder until now reserved exclusively for the 911 Turbo.

The car was fast – very fast – but it wasn’t enough, at least for the head of Porsche’s GT cars, Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser.

He wanted a neat 700hp, or 515kW. And with German engineers being the way they are, he got it.

Bigger turbos contribute to the extra shove, while larger intercoolers keep intake temperatures down to maximise the output of the horizontally-opposed six.

There’s even a water spray system that vaporises distilled H2O onto the intercoolers, in turn reducing the temperature of the air being thrust into the engine by up to 21 degrees. The gorgeously styled carbon fibre tank in the luggage area is only accessed when required – in hot weather or when it’s being driven hard – but adds crucial punch on the way to the 700 target.


2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Photo: supplied

Walliser admits the engine is near its limit in terms of achieving the output Porsche wanted with the legendary reliability that means it can be driven like a race car every day without fear of components giving up.

But power is only one part of the GT2 equation. Minimising weight took on new levels of detail.

The first thing to go was the Turbo’s all-wheel drive system, shedding 50kg. Magnesium replaces aluminium in the roof – saving 1kg – and the bonnet is made of carbon fibre (another 2kg). Thinner, smartphone-like Gorilla glass saves 3.5kg, lightweight carpet 3.3kg and the omission of the rear seats 9.6kg.

For those wanting to stretch the kilo-shedding friendship you can even leave the clock, radio and air-conditioning back at the Stuttgart factory.

Even Walliser doesn’t recommend saving 15kg on AC, though, pointing out that Porsche race cars live with the penalty because the driver remains more comfortable, in turn making fewer mistakes and dishing out more consistent laps.

Remaining focused is important with the GT2. As senior development driver and dual World Rally Champion Walter Rohrl describes it, the GT2 RS is a 911 for the men, not the boys.

Yet despite its animalistic tendencies, it’s not an untamed beast.

Along with Australian F1 ace Mark Webber – also a Porsche development driver – Rohrl called for some of the oversteer to be dialled out.

The propensity for the tail to slide wide was seen as too ambitious on a track.

Even so, the 750Nm of torque that arrives at 2500rpm is more than enough to overwhelm the enormous, 325mm wide 21-inch rear tyres.

Feed on some throttle at 120km/h and the engine wins out in the war over traction, making for some exciting rides.

Ultimately the beautifully tuned stability control stops any overt tyre smoking antics, but get it right and it allows enough slip angle, making for some enthralling exits.

And it’s an engine that simply does not give up. Top speed is electronically limited to 340km/h, only because the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber isn’t designed for more. Seventh gear can theoretically do 370km/h, although engineers admit that aerodynamics will slow things somewhere in the 350s. Besides, they figured 340km/h was probably enough.

Anything south of 300km/h, though, and the GT2 is pulling immensely.

Watching the digital speedo flash up 291km/h at the end of the straight at the undulating Portimao track is an impressive feat in a car that an hour earlier was battling Portuguese traffic.

More impressive is the eye-popping pace at which the carbon ceramic brakes arrest that speed. The brake pedal is firm but sinks closer to the floor, initially triggering the ABS on a slight rise at the tail of the straight. But as the nose squats and the sticky Michelins do their thing the GT2 dials up something approaching 2G of decelerative force.

It’s a phenomenal feeling you never tire of, each application devoid of brake fade, helped in part by the bonnet vents that feed fresh air directly to the front discs. Few road cars, if any, stop as quickly as the GT2.

In that respect the GT2 is not wildly different to the GT3, a car with which it shares much of its body and its overall track-focused philosophy. Except the GT2 is travelling so much quicker than the non-turbo GT3 when it arrives at a corner.

Trail braking into bends is key to getting the front wheels to point the nose, especially around tighter turns.

With 61 percent of the weight over the enormous rear tyres the front benefits from some extra balance on the limit, even when up to 416kg of downforce is distributed between the rear wing (271kg) and front spoiler (145kg).

It’s a fine balance, though, because too much brake and the tail wants to follow the nose, something the electronics keep in check.

But it’s firing out of corners and accelerating down the straight that the GT2 unleashes its full fury, the turbo engine teaming with the short ratio seven-speed PDK twin-clutch automatic.

The exhaust note is much deeper than a GT3, so lacks the shriek at stratospheric revs.

Instead, it’s shifting just prior to its 7200rpm limit, the purposeful snarl one of many mechanical noises that make for as frenetic din in the cabin.

Whereas a regular 911 Turbo is relatively long-legged, the GT2 is grabbing third gear at just over 100km/h and kicks into sixth at 264km/h.

That short gearing is particularly noticeable when tackling a launch control start. The initial surge is not as brutal as a 911 Turbo, but once it’s past the inevitable wheelspin it’s a rush of revs and gear shifts, clocking 100km/h in 2.8 seconds. From there the journey to 200km/h takes another 5.5 seconds.

With so many (fast) gear changes, it’s no wonder Porsche didn’t consider a manual for the GT2.

“You would not be able to shift fast enough,” says Walliser.

On the road, the GT2 regresses to a brisk point-to-point bruiser, albeit one with compromises. The suspension is taut, albeit not abrasive.

Cruise at 110km/h, though, and you’ll have to raise your voice to maintain a conversation, such is the roar from the tyres.

And you have a greater appreciation for the mechanicals, some of which you’ll hear clanking and clanging, the most obvious reminder of the lack of sound deadening in the lightweight body.

Pressing the sports exhaust button adds some beef to the note, although it drones annoyingly around 2000rpm.

Then there’s the price. At $645,400 it’s by far the most expensive Porsche to flow through an Australian dealership.

And it’s easy to spend plenty more than that, with the Weissach pack most owners will choose – it sheds another 27kg through things such as carbon fibre suspension components and a carbon roof – adding a cool $69,900.

Exclusivity and engineering excellence will help ease the sticker shock, although you also get that in cars such as the McLaren 720S ($489,900) and Ferrari 812 Superfast ($610,000).

In true Porsche fashion the GT2 isn’t the quickest thing in a straight line – although it’s plenty quick enough – but it blends wonderful mid-corner precision and grip with superb braking to create a blisteringly track machine. And one that gives the impression it will continue doing its go-fast thing for decades to come.

At the same time, it adds some old school animal to the 911 formula. Enough to make it the most exciting and engaging of the breed. If you dare. 

 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Price and Specifications

On sale: March, 2018

Price: $645,400, plus on-road costs

Engine: 3.8-litre twin turbo horizontally-opposed six-cylinder

Power: 515kW at 7000rpm

Torque: 750Nm at 2500-4500rpm

Transmission: 7-speed twin-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive

Fuel use: 11.8L/100km

- For more information visit our Porsche showroom

Article source: https://www.drive.com.au/new-car-reviews/2018-porsche-911-gt2-rs-review-116311

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