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Following recent advances in tyre technology, electronic stability control systems and switchable driving modes, even the most mind-blowingly fast supercars can be tamed by most drivers. Consequently, there are only a handful of cars on sale today with the capacity to really scare you – and the Porsche 911 GT2 RS is one of them.
Stemming from Porsche’s desire to homologate the 911 for racing, the original '993' 911 GT2, introduced in 1993, was nothing more than a thinly disguised GT2-spec racer. It was based on the already sublime 911 Turbo, but the development team added more power, took drive away from the front wheels and put the car on a strict diet. This simple recipe resulted in one of the rawest 911s ever produced.
It also led to a follow-up and, as fate would have it, 'difficult second album' syndrome. The '996' GT2 was something of a disappointment, with its spikey on-the-limit handling and distinct lack of driver aids quickly earning it an intimidating reputation. Thankfully, the later '997' GT2 and GT2 RS corrected the balance (excuse the pun) by bringing a better-resolved chassis and, for the first time, stability control.
And so to the latest variant. Faithful to the original recipe, this '991' GT2 RS features the same combination of turbocharged flat-six goodness and track-focused handling. But don’t go thinking it's just a turbocharged GT3 RS. Oh no. It is without question the most advanced and extensively developed roadgoing 911 in the illustrious 54-year history of this rear-engined sports car.
Under the bonnet (or should that be boot lid?) lies a completely re-engineered version of the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine used in the 911 Turbo S – and the results are staggering. Producing 691bhp and 553lb ft of torque, the GT2 RS has a whopping 120bhp more than the Turbo S and around 200bhp more than the already bonkers-fast GT3 RS, making an official 2.8sec 0-62mph time and 211mph top speed seeem perfectly plausible.
To contain that atomic bomb of an engine and ensure that you don’t end up going backwards into a hedge, Porsche has relied heavily on its racing know-how. The suspension settings closely resemble those of its Cup race cars, the front and rear anti-roll bars are made entirely from carbonfibre (so long as you specify the £21,042 weight-saving Weissach package) and the huge rear wing and wide front splitter generate real downforce: 350kg, to be exact, or 25kg more than the Ferrari 488 GTB.
2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS on the road
Butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms and a dry throat: that's what you expect before venturing out onto a race track, not when bumbling through Surrey villages. And yet the feeling of trepidation is there from the moment you approach the GT2 RS, because it looks and feels like a properly intimidating racer.
Fitted with the Weissach package (which removes 30kg of weight), our test car felt like the antithesis of the modern-day ‘usable supercar’, with its interior shorn of any notable insulation and every mechanical sound – from the crackling of stones tapping the front wheel arches to the chafing of the carbon-ceramic brakes – making its way to your ears.
The lack of refinement is worth it, though, because the GT2 RS has a kerb weight of just 1470kg – only 40kg more than the featherweight GT3 RS, despite the heavier turbocharged engine. The combined effect is a car that has more performance and capability than you can reasonably use on most country roads – unless you want to risk a custodial sentence, that is. The explosive surge of power begins around 2800rpm and the savage thrust doesn’t relent until you reach the engine’s heady 7300rpm redline. And even then relief is only brief, with the seven-speed paddle-shift automtic gearbox firing through near-instantaneous changes.
However, with Britain’s B-roads becoming increasingly congested and speed cameras becoming more plentiful, one of the main challenges faced by modern performance cars is to offer driver rewards at legal speeds – something a number of the GT2 RS’s rivals struggle to achieve. Thankfully, creating a highly focused driving machine that still has the capacity to thrill at a slower pace has become something of a Porsche forte over the years, and the GT2 RS has, without question, benefited from that experience.
It has the same huge wheels and tyres as the Porsche 918 Spyder hypercar, resulting in remarkable levels of grip that you might expect to dull the driving experience. However, the tactility of the steering and the alacrity of the chassis ensure that you feel truly involved in every part of the driving process. And despite suspension settings that closely mimic those of 911 Cup race cars, the ride is perfectly acceptable, too, with the GT2 RS exhibiting the kind of fluency usually exclusive to McLarens.
And yet, despite this impressive low-speed deftness, many owners will want to explore the limits of their GT2 RS, and the public road is not the appropriate venue, regardless of your driving ability. Therefore, before we relucantly handed back the keys, we managed to sneak out onto Porsche’s Silverstone test track for a few quick laps. It’s a demanding circuit with a challenging mix of elevation changes, off-camber corners and hard-braking zones: the perfect place to gauge whether the GT2 RS is capable of thrilling you like its simpler predecessors.
And it doesn’t take long to find the answer. After working some heat into the tyres, the resultant bite from the front end is simply astonishing, with the steering relaying a constant stream of information back to your fingertips. Combined with the unique way in which all 911s dig in and fire out of corners, it’s surprising just how quickly you gain confidence.
This naturally results in falling lap times, and the car, for the most part, remains rock solid – right up until the point when you lift off the accelerator a little too hastily mid-bend. The resultant weight transfer is enough to send the GT2 RS snapping sideways like a 911 of old. You see, where other 911s in the range (including the track-focused GT3 RS) allow you to take certain liberties, the GT2 RS is all about lap times. Forget sideways heroics; this 911 is strictly business. It's a car that, like its predecessors, has a real aversion to sloppy driving.
Ultimately, if you want easily accessible performance, the Audi R8 or McLaren 720S would be a better bet. But if you like to be really challenged and, dare we say it, a little scared, the GT2 RS will be more your cup of tea.
2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS interior
The interior is based on the same architecture as a base 911 Carrera. That means class-leading ergonomics and build quality that smaller-production-volume rivals simply can’t hope to match. However, this is a near-£250,000 car (with the Weissach pack fitted), and for that kind of outlay you might expect supercar levels of extravagance.
As standard, you get the Clubsport package, which includes carbonfibre-backed seats, lightweight door trims and a sports steering wheel. The Weissach pack not only improves performance by significantly reducing the car's weight, but also adds a titanium roll cage and the provision for a six-point safety harness. Frustratingly, the beautifully formed cage is not race-approved, but it will add another layer of protection if you want to take your GT2 RS on track.
Rivals such as the Lamborghini Huracán Performante have more dramatic-looking interiors, but the GT2 RS's feels exceptionally well put together.
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