Cars and Calibres

“Sir, do you know how fast you were going?”


“You kind of took that a little quick, didn’t you?”

“Yeah well, you were kind of airborne, weren’t you?”

Such was the discussion on the way to the Autódromo International Algarve in Portimao, Portugal one sunny morning. That’s the unusual thing about the car we were in.

The new Porsche 911 GT2 RS is insanely fun, crazily fast, and extremely deceptive. It will force you to be a better driver, or it will punish you if you aren’t. Or both.

Race car driver/rally racer/gearhead rock star Walter Röhrl loves the GT2 RS.

He says that it is remarkably like a car he used to drive. That car though was the Porsche 935, a full-on crazy-scary racecar. Except this latest greatest Porsche isn’t that scary. At least not at first.

Given the fact that this new car has beaten Nurburgring records preciously held by supercars (that can be a handful on regular human roads, to put it mildly), it is surprisingly drivable on a regular basis.

The hugely-powerful engine (at 700 hp from 3800 twin-turbocharged cc, the most powerful yet to be put into a road-legal 911) isn’t so peaky that you are worried about rear-ending everything in front of you.

The steering gives you firmness and feedback as needed but doesn’t punish you on tight city streets. All in all a very pleasant 911.

Which is, as we said, very deceptive because you suddenly find yourself going very, very fast without realizing it.

This is why Walter Röhrl said that he could never own one. His license would never survive.

The power delivery for the GT2 RS is different from other recent insanely-fast supercars and GTs.

The Ferrari 488 GTB kind of warps you in from one place to another.

The Lamborghini Aventador S brings you roaring and screaming up to speed very quickly as well.

The Porsche acts like most 911s do—you feel the power come on and you feel the car—except everything is compressed.

You think you just burst up to around 150 kph or so, then you check and find that you are off—by around a hundred.

And it is still pulling.

Porsche calls the GT2 RS a true driver’s car, which you kind of question when you hear the horsepower numbers and learn that it can’t be ordered in a manual.

Yet, when you get off the roads and onto the track, you start to see what they mean.

First major point is the shifter; purists want manuals. However not only is the Porsche dual-clutch PDK better, smarter and faster than all but the best professional racecar drivers, it also allows you to concentrate on the actual driving—which you really need to do with this car, as it can get you into trouble fast.

In spite of all the latest sport and safety systems, the car will break its tail out far more easily than you would expect from modern 911s.

And, by the way, remember when Porsche said that you needed all-wheel-drive to handle the power of modern engines? The GT2 RS is rear wheel drive.

Getting back to that beautiful boxer engine, the power—intimidating as it can be—can be modulated well enough to allow you to bring the tail back in easily, or further out if you wish.

All this depends, of course, on what settings you have chosen, and how aggressive you want to be.

But no question, it is a true driver’s car. As the famous (infamous) Herr Röhrl told us, the car will do what you tell it to, but you darn well better listen when it talks to you.

The car almost has different characters depending on where in the commitment envelope you are.

On the highways going to the circuit, it was stable, solid and quick.

On the long empty backroads, it spooled up turbos and speed quickly, which means we went over unexpected undulations probably faster than we should have. Hence, the discussions at the beginning of this article.

On the circuit where you are able to replicate moves and brake later and later into corners, it at first feels as though the brakes aren’t biting until you realize you are diving into the corner much faster than you thought.

And that of course is with the amateur driver at the wheel.

When Sir Walter (yes, he has a lot of cool nicknames) drove us around, we would crest a blind curve on a hill and dive down and actually be weightless—all while he was chatting away at how beautiful and challenging the track was.

This is one of those cars that will honestly surpass most drivers by a wide, wide margin.

Indeed, some serious collectors have said, “No, that may be too much car for me.” But then, that’s where the duality of the 911 GT2 RS comes in again.

It is destined to be so immensely collectible as to be too valuable to drive with joy, yet it is also one of the most challenging, demanding and enjoyable drives you could ever have.

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