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Driven — 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Driven — 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Dejan Jovanovic 7 months ago
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After 54 years of ongoing development Porsche has built the ultimate 911, and the new GT2 RS is something of a paradox, as composed, as it is madly unhinged. The 911 GT2 RS is a 700 horsepower guardian angel…

It took more than 50 years: 50 years of the wrong idea to get it oh-so right. The new rear-engined, two-wheel drive Porsche 911 GT2 RS puts 700 horsepower to the 325-wide Michelins and laughs at the rules, sniggers at suspicion, dismisses doubt round the outside of turn 15 at Algarve International Circuit.

It’s almost too much car, peak 911. Supercars have been on the path of refinement for a while, getting more powerful and accessible at the same time through rapid advances in electronics. Anyone can take a deep breath, tuck their belly in and clamber into a Ferrari nowadays, sliding around a circuit in loafers.

The GT2 RS, too, has limits of course, just theoretical ones. Most of us will never reach these limits. The limits you do reach every time you plant the throttle, every time the turbos spool up and spit you down another straight and your body springs into survival mode from the shock of this level freefall, are of the moral kind. This car questions not the laws of physics, but your social responsibility. How much of a total delinquent do you want to be? Adjust throttle to suit.

That’s the limit, your sensitivity to humankind, your debt to society. The limit in the wildest, fastest Porsche 911 ever is siesta time in southern Portugal on winding roads past shuttered houses, where Motormouth is testing the car. What the hell, they can have a power nap… Where is that exhaust valve switch again?

2018 porsche 911 gt2 rs 5

If you’re planning on driving the GT2 RS regularly, plan on a booming highway drone from the 3.8-litre flat-six twin-turbocharged engine and severe lack of sound deadening around the car, as well as plenty of tyre roar from the staggered (20-inch front, 21-inch rear) Michelin track tyres

The new GT2 RS is the most advanced 911 Porsche has ever built, in the 54 years of advancing the 911. That RS tag means it’s coming at you from $270,000 straight outta Weissach, Porsche’s Rennsport racing department, with one simple target: be the fastest car in the world. Not so simple now…

Porsche did it, with a road-legal monster spurting wings, spoilers, NACA ducts (that’s the predecessor to NASA that invented the low-drag aerodynamic aids), diffusers and vents for hundreds of kilos of downforce at its maximum speed. Which has had to be limited to 340kph even though the GT2 RS would do 370kph, all for the sake of tyre preservation and a focus on cornering grip rather than high speed heat efficiency. You know, lap times.

Or rather, a lap time. Before dropping the mic Porsche booked two days at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in the Eifel mountains earlier this summer where factory test driver Lars Kern put in a lap of 6:47.3, officially, an absolute record.

And Porsche isn’t shy either: “This record will stand for a while,” company motorsport boss Frank-Steffen Walliser told me in Portugal without a flinch. Arguing his nonchalance doesn’t work either. This GT2 RS smashed the previous ‘Ring record by five seconds. It went around the 20km-long track they notoriously call the Green Hell 10 seconds quicker than the 900-horsepower (nearly) 918 Spyder. Compared to the previous generation GT2 RS the new one went round a ridiculous 28 seconds faster. That kind of evolution in one generational step is unheard of. It would be akin to your kid growing wings.

2018 porsche 911 gt2 rs

To beat all the other challengers to the ‘Ring record from Lamborghini, Ferrari, McLaren, and its very own million-dollar 918 Spyder hypercar, Weissach let loose on the public roads a 911 with a suspension that’s never been more closely related to the company’s 911 Cup race car, and then dumped a turbocharged engine in the back without the 911 Turbo models’ security of all wheel drive. Yes, all of the GT2 RS’ 700 horsepower goes to a couple of rear 325-wide Michelins, the finest French rubber available, cut slicks basically.

With something like 150kg less weight than a 911 Turbo S and nearly a 100-horsepower advantage, the GT2 RS sprints from zero to 100kph in 2.8 seconds, which actually seems almost conservatively quoted by Porsche. All that power and torque, with the rush for the rev limiter at over 7,000rpm in every single gear, and with barely enough road available anywhere for the GT2 RS to even call on sixth, let alone top, it’s just crazy that that almighty engine (bigger turbos, new cooling system, new pistons and internals, charge-air cooler with a five-liter water tank in the front, and way more to go through here) is overshadowed by this car’s chassis.

You’d have to push the engine way, way past illegal speeds to feel like the GT2 RS is even trying, while you’re sweating with every prospect of the wheel yanking itself out of your hands each time the red needle in that big central gauge starts frantically sweeping across the face of the dial like a germaphobe

2018 porsche 911 gt2 rs

The steering and the handling are so definite and consistent that the GT2 RS almost seems to give false pretense. But the ugly truth never shows up. It’s just that good, this car, and you need not use more than a quarter of the throttle pedal travel to bomb on down every road on your closest mountain. With racing-derived uniball joints in the suspension and dampers about twice as stiff as a GT3’s; with four-wheel steering and a $30,000 Weissach package ditching another 30 kilos; with a titanium roll-cage and extreme weight saving measures such as Gorilla glass windows (-3.5g), carbon fibre door hinges (-0.8kg), carbon fibre roof (-0.5kg), carbon fibre suspension (-5.3kg), lightweight carpet (-0.2kg) and Porsche crest stickers instead of enamel badges, the GT2 RS obsesses over every little detail to absolutely shake that infamous nickname that’s trailed the nameplate since 1993 – the Widowmaker.

Switch all the stability aids off and the label still holds value, true, but in normal driving mode the liberal electronics let you feel like a hero in this thing, never having there been a more accessible 700 horsepower in a supercar before. Stability is incredible, and over bumps and badly cambered roads all over the Algarve the GT2 finds grip everywhere. Yet at the same time the car rewards, with so much left in store the satisfaction of wheeling such an amazingly engineered vehicle is huge.

2018 porsche 911 gt2 rs

With a weight of 1,470kg and peak power of 700 horsepower the ultimate 911 lapped the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 6 minutes and 47.3 seconds, making it, by that universal measure, the fastest car in the world

The brakes too need mention, because they somewhat dictate the relentless pace. You can depend on them, and you feel like nothing can surprise you with that kind of stopping power at disposal. Even under hard driving you don’t need to stomp on the pedal – a nice squeeze is enough. On the race track, 12 hard laps trying to stick to the back of driving legend Walter Röhrl did nothing to unsettle the 410mm carbon ceramic discs or uncover any brake fade.

As supercars become more refined and more accessible, as easy to drive around town as a Golf, Porsche has built one – a loud, brazen one – that does it right. It humbles. I visited the Grand Canyon once. I was just driving east through Arizona towards New York with no plans to stop, but figured what the hell, may as well buy the t-shirt. Once I stepped towards the edge and the earth opened up in front of me the feeling was incredible. If you ever want to learn your true worth, if you want to feel really small, try to take on nature, or the GT2 RS.

Porsche 911 GT2 RS

3.8-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six | seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive | 700 horsepower and 750Nm of torque | 0-100kph in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 340kph | $270,000

Porsche 911 GT2 RS
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