Their almost somnolent fluttering is totally at odds with the view through the windscreen, which centres on a ribbon of sundrenched road that is being reeled in at a frenetic pace, disappearing under the raked nose in a blur of speed.
At the end of our 10-kilometre test strip the road begins to rise gradually, but the liquid-crystal figures continue to edge upwards, finally stabilising at a round 310 as the road inclines. Our satellite-measured readout is rather more conservative than the car’s own speedo which, affected by such vagaries as variance in tyre size (and, in fact, tyre growth) reads a mind-blowing 329 km/h.
Testing Porsche’s GT2 reminds us once again of the massive extra effort required to eke out each extra kilometre per hour when you get to speeds above the triple ton. The factory claims its top model will do 315 km/h, and our calculations bear this out. But our road is simply too short to extract that extra ounce of performance, and we have to settle for a figure that is, when all is said and done, just 1,7 per cent short of the ideal…
Another Porsche, another year, and once again a Zuffenhausen product sets new benchmarks for both top speed and acceleration in a CAR road test. In addition to the 310 km/h top whack, which beats the previous record of 306 set by
the 911 Turbo, the GT2 rockets to 100 km/h in 4,13 seconds (compared with the 4,30 recorded by the Turbo) and flashes past the kilometre mark just 22,17 seconds from take-off, cutting a whole 0,69 seconds off the time recorded by its
more genteel sister. And all that on South African 97-octane unleaded fuel, instead of the minimum 98 unleaded specified by the manufacturer.
A race-and-road car in true Porsche tradition, the GT2 is currently the company’s quickest production machine, though it’s due to lose this honour towards the end of 2003 when the mid-V10-engined Carrera GT makes its bow. To achieve its position at the top of the Porsche pile, the fastest 911 uses an uprated twin-turbo flat six pumping out 340 kW (31 more than the ‘standard’ Turbo), ditches its sister’s heavy four-wheel drive system, and uses a lighter, lower-drag bodyshell. Suspension is rose-jointed, stiffened and lowered, dropping the car’s centre of gravity by 20 mm, to provide tauter handling.
Brakes are huge ceramic composite discs, specially designed for hauling down the car’s 1,4-ton mass from speeds of more than 300 km/h. The Turbo is a dramatic looking car, but the GT2, particularly in the yellow paintwork of the test unit, looks brawnier still. Differences to the front-end are subtle, but provide more overtaking presence: the two side intakes lose the Turbo’s slats, and are bisected by single vanes. A pair of mean-looking black vanes across the front of the bonnet are an integral part of the car’s aero system, and allow air to escape upwards from the central front radiator. The front chin-spoiler has a soft rubber strip along its lowest extremity, a necessity because of the car’s low ride-height, which results in the front end scraping on even the most gentle of ramps. Angling the car at 45 degrees when entering driveways becomes second-nature to a GT2 driver.
The side scoops ahead of the rear wheelarches and the vent slats low down behind the rear wheels echo those of the Turbo. But the engine-cover is different, supporting a huge, fixed rear wing that provides the necessary downforce to keep the tail tracking true at 300-plus.
In addition to a lower ride height, and generally harder spring rates than the 911 Turbo, the suspension has adjustable anti-roll bars, is compatible with racing springs, and allows the extra adjustability of axle geometry required when using racing tyres. The test car, supplied in road trim, had Michelin Pilots on its 18-inch alloy wheels – 235/40s at the front and 315/30s at the rear.
The GT2 is the first Porsche to be fitted with ceramic composite brake discs as standard equipment. The cross-drilled, inner-vented units have a diameter of 350 mm, and reduce unsprung mass by 16,6 kg compared with the Turbo’s standard cross-drilled steel units. Because of the extremely hard surface, service life is claimed to be extended considerably, and corrosion is virtually eliminated.
The engine features VarioCam Plus, the same version of Porsche’s variable valve-timing system as fitted to the Turbo. The twin turbochargers provide a higher air throughput, allowing an increase in total charge pressure under full load to one bar above atmospheric. Despite the increased pressure, more effective intercoolers ensure temperatures remain the same as those typically reached in the Turbo. Torque peaks at 3 500 r/min, and the maximum output of 620 N.m is maintained up to 4 500 r/min, ensuring good drivability.
As in the GT1 and GT3 models, dry-sump lubrication is used. Drive is taken to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox borrowed from the GT3 RS, with an external cooler and splash lubrication. Ratios are the same as on the Turbo, but the synchronising rings are of steel instead of brass.
Tight-fitting leather-upholstered bucket seats are standard fitment, and all GT2s have driver, passenger and side airbags, electric windows, and a central locking/immobiliser/transponder/alarm system. Sound system and automatic air-conditioning, as fitted to the test car, are no-cost options.
Sliding into the driver’s bucket, you immediately get that familiar Porsche feeling of the car being at one with you, an extension of your brain, arms and legs. Flick the key, and the engine churns into life, idling with a ‘rugga-rugga’ beat that tells you it means serious business. The clutch is heavy-ish but not calf-taxing, and VarioCam allows you to ease off the mark with revs barely above idle speed. Angle the car across the ramp to access the road (hoping the front doesn’t scrape) and the GT2 blends easily with the city traffic.
All very civilised, the only indications of its racy capabilities being the firm ride, quick steering and those macho looks, which elicit jealous glances from the tin-box brigade around you. And, of course, the addictive flood of power and sound that entices you to blast past whole gaggles of ‘normal’ cars at every opportunity.
Out on your favourite country road, the GT2 comes alive. Throttle response is immediate, squashing you into your seat. Traction is prodigious even without the Turbo’s four-wheel drive, courtesy of the rear-mounted engine, and grip is impressive thanks to the wide tyres, though a 40:60 front-to-rear weight distribution (with driver) means that, eventually, the laws of physics will set the tail wagging.
The steering is quick, with the levels of bump-steer you’d expect in a road-race Porsche, and provides tremendous feedback as it reacts to every nuance of the road-surface. On a twisty road, it makes the taut chassis come alive, dancing through the bends as it follows every movement of the driver’s hands.
Out on our long, straight test road, the GT2 confirms its prowess against the clock as it sets our new acceleration benchmarks. No traction control to switch out here: just park it on the road, raise the revs (not too much, or you’ll wheelspin it all away in a cloud of smoke), release the beefy clutch, and the car rockets off the mark, the rear wheels tramping briefly as the Michelins scrabble for grip.
The boost gauge momentarily reads a full bar as the rev-counter surges past 6 000 r/min, before coming back to 0,9 as the needle approaches the 7 400 r/min red line. Gear changes are solid, but snap-fast, though we managed to beat the synchros on second during a couple of our attempts. By the kilometre mark you’re doing 246 km/h, maximum whack for many a serious performance car, but the GT2 still surges onward, pulling strongly past 300. Faster still, but the hill is looming and gravity counters forward thrust, slowing the rise in numbers. But it’s an unforgettable moment in the annals of CAR road testing, one that will take serious effort to match, let alone surpass.
We do several runs, working the ceramic discs hard as we scrub off speed each time. There’s no trace of fade, but the brakes begin to squeal slightly after the repeated punishment. Checking the pads, we note that there’s still plenty of friction material, but it has developed a white patina. Our standard 100 km/h-to-zero brake test is nothing to a system of this kind, and the car nonchalantly reels off a series of 2,9 second stops, feeling none the worse for the high-speed punishment.
The engine bay is a plumber’s nightmare, so there’s no question of connecting up our Pierburg fuel flow meter for steady-speed tests. Our tank-to-tank figures show the GT2 has gulped 97 unleaded at a rate of 21,92 litres per 100 km during our test session. And, because this is a machine that simply asks to have its neck wrung every time you drive it, our best figure is still a massive 21,63 litres per 100 km. Official EC tests prove that an overall figure of 12,9 litres per 100 km is possible. But we reckon few GT2 drivers would be prepared to pussy-foot to that extent…