Porsche 911 GT2 RS

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I once made the mistake of asking Gordon Murray if it were possible for a road car to be too quick. Because this was over 15 years ago and I’d nursed a few beers after the mind-shredding experience of being introduced to his F1 for the first time, I don’t recall the exact response, only that it was ripe, to the point and in the negative.

But it came back to me again after a couple of unforgettable hours at the wheel of this new 911 GT2 RS, the fastest, most powerful production Porsche ever to don a set of number plates.

Porsche bores like me will spot at once the contradiction in its title. Porsche has been building RS 911s for 37 years and GT2s for 15, but never once has an RS also been a GT2, or vice versa. For while RSs are normally aspirated and intended first and foremost to homologate race versions of the 911, GT2s are turbocharged road cars with no ulterior motive.

Yet it seems to me that the GT2 RS can genuinely claim to be both. Conceptually it has to be more GT2 than RS because not only does it own a couple of turbos that will carry your breath away and threaten not to bring it back, those turbos mean it cannot be raced in any front-line GT series. Moreover, Porsche will tell you it started life as a GT2 pure and simple, and it was only when they started driving prototypes and realised just how far beyond any 911 produced so far it had travelled that they thought it was probably deserving of an RS badge too.

Except that in engineering terms, it owes much more to the RS philosophy than that of the GT2. The whole car, for instance, is based not on the outgoing GT2 but the current GT3 RS.

It has all that car’s featherweight construction tricks, including a single-mass flywheel, plastic rear screen and carbon seats to which they then added plastic rear quarter lights, a carbon-fibre bonnet, carbon front wings and, best of all, a simple sticker on the nose instead of the usual enamel Porsche badge. It’s a device first used by Porsche for the 911R in 1968 and I’ve never forgotten it.

There’s more RS in here. It shares the GT3 RS’s widened front track, split wishbones and active engine mounts. Its aero package is based on the GT3 RS’s, albeit modified to satisfy the rather great appetite for air of the turbo motor. And if you want to distinguish its interior from that of a GT3 RS, you’re going to need to look at the badge on the rev-counter which, rather tellingly, says merely ‘GT2’.

But it doesn’t go like a GT2, RS or any other Porsche in history: not even the Carrera GT of 2003 which, as you may remember, was a road-going version of a still-born Le Mans prototype.

The original plan was to boost the GT2’s engine output from 523bhp up to around 560bhp. A strong and meaningful improvement, which coupled with the 70kg lost putting it through RS boot camp, meant performance on a completely new level. The only dissenting voice came from the dyno, whose numbers kept climbing and climbing. They climbed past 580bhp, past 600bhp and settled at 611bhp, backed by 516lb ft of torque, a number whose absurdity can only be truly appreciated when you realise it’s available from 2250rpm.

So you approach this car knowing already that the usually unflappable folk in Porsche’s Motorsport department refer to it with reverence as ‘The Beast’. It certainly looks the part with its wings and spoilers, slats and scoops, and as you take up residence behind the suede-rimmed wheel and twist the key, part of you fears what might happen next.

In fact the mighty motor, which unlike normal 911s still uses the old racing block from the GT1 programme of the late ’90s, catches and idles quietly and evenly. I’m not sure it doesn’t make less noise than a Boxster, such are the sound-sapping characteristics of those turbos.

Nor is there much drama once you’re underway. It rides well enough to provide plausible every day transport and, despite the removal of 4kg of sound-deadening material, it’s pretty refined too.

So when it does reveal what it’s capable of, it’s even more surprising than had it heralded the moment with all the pops, bangs, snarls and howls you’d expect from a car with a power-to-weight ratio of 445bhp per tonne.

In the lower gears the acceleration is actually a little alarming, not least because with the engine sitting over the rear wheels, and Michelin tyres specifically tailored in construction and compound to cope with the demands of this actual engine, it’s so extraordinarily good at dumping its power on the asphalt. Only when you reach fourth gear does the acceleration abate sufficiently to be savoured, but by then you’re already deep into three-figure territory, narrowing somewhat the scope for safely enjoying it.

But you can enjoy its appetite for corners at any speed you like, and it is here that the RS side of its nature rather than its GT2 heritage can really be felt. There’s all sorts of clever stuff going on behind the scenes here, none more clever than the adoption of linear rate springs which are shorter and lighter by far than progressive coils, and come complete with tiny little helper springs on top to maintain some load in the suspension on full rebound. It is a technique that has come direct from the 911 race programme.

So you’ll not be surprised to learn that it grips and grips. Pleasingly its widened front track means it shares the GT3 RS’s aversion to traditional 911 understeer and so long as you don’t get clever with the throttle its handling is very neutral, its adhesion limit as high as any production road car in my experience.

But if you do decide to switch off the electronic assistants and give it a boot-full of throttle at the exit of a second-gear corner you had better be prepared for the kind of oversteer that only 516lb ft of torque breaking loose the tail of a car with an engine in its boot can induce. Which means those with a penchant for travelling sideways at less than a moment’s notice will be well served.

Others, myself included, might be more persuaded by the slightly less savage charms of the normal GT3 RS. Not only is it nearly £60,000 cheaper than the £164,107 GT2 RS, it also sounds rather better, revs somewhat higher and has a throttle response no turbocharged car could dream of. And because its torque peak is 200lb ft lower but delivered 4500rpm higher, it’s rather easier to mete out.

But for those looking for the ultimate 911 driving experience, the GT2 RS doesn’t just move the game on, it changes it altogether. The only question remaining is what on earth Porsche can do to top it. More power would seem excessive, less weight prohibitively expensive. But top it they will for Porsche seems also to subscribe to the Gordon Murray school of thought: if there is such a thing as a car too fast for the public road, Porsche hasn’t built it yet.

FACTFILE

ENGINE: 3600cc twin-turbo flat-six

TOP SPEED: 205mph

PRICE: £164,107

POWER: 611bhp @ 6500rpm

FUEL/CO2: 23.7mpg, 284g/km

www.porsche.com

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