2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Review - Relentless

 

This is the ultimate rendition of Porsche’s decades-old 911, the GT2 RS. With 700hp, it is simply relentless.

Words: Kyle Cassidy   |   Photos Tom Gasnier
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Driving the 911 GT2 RS is a bit like the All Blacks taking on Tonga two weeks out from the RWC. You can be fairly certain of the outcome, and you wonder if the risk outweighs the reward. But it’s sure to be a spectacle. It’s quite something watching the ABs putting on 90 points, the speed of their game, the precision of the execution, all the pieces coming together in a supreme show of class.

And so it is with the 911 GT2 RS, the ultimate imagining of the previous generation 911. Yes, this car is no longer available, the production line now dedicated to the new 911. But hardly ever do we get to experience such an amalgam of exotic alloys, motorsport-honed engineering and raw horsepower. So after administering an equal dose of brave pills and sensible tonic, we took the helm.

While a regular 911 is a conservative looking sportster, this ain’t. The GT2 is wider, lower, winged and vented. The ride height is race-ready; you can barely post a letter under the arches. This is outfitted with the optional Weissach lightweighting package which means those immense wheels are minted from magnesium to save 11kg, the half cage in the rear is made of titanium and there are more carbon bits, including the roof panel and even the sway bars.

The main structure of the GT2 is donated from the Turbo but it’s dressed in carbon reinforced plastic panels while other exclusive bits include the rear and side windows being of lightweight Gorilla Glass. It’s supposed to weigh 1470kg, while our scales said 1536kg, with 63 per cent on the rear thanks to that infamous engine positioning. And this flat six is the most potent ever used in a road-going 911.

It has an unrelenting urge, bull like from 4000rpm right the way to 7200rpm, the force just not diminishing

A development of the 3.8-litre from the Turbo, it uses bigger blowers with Porsche’s unique variable geometry technology to coerce 515kW and 750Nm from the flat six. Optimised air intakes are said to deliver a cooler mixture for better combustion while the intercoolers have a water sprayer system to ensure power production remains constant under duress.

Once the six has wrung the energy from those hydrocarbons, the spent gases are spat out, rather noisily, through a new titanium exhaust with a variable back pressure flap. Porsche has adapted its seven-speed twin-clutch for duty in the GT2 for the first time. The chassis includes dynamic engine mounts, stiffening when the G forces increase, while the rubberised suspension bushings have been replaced with ball joints for a more immediate response.

The suspension features a secondary helper spring that is said to improve wheel control under extreme cornering loads. The springs themselves and the damper rates are amped up while the geometry, ride height and roll bar settings can all be tweaked. Helping get it up the driveway is a hydraulic lift to raise the front 30mm, and this little gizmo is quick acting too. There are masses of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup rubber at each corner, while Porsche bolts on its ceramic composite brakes as standard, measuring 410mm on the front with six-piston calipers. The active dampers have two settings, firm and ultra hard. Other chassis wizardry includes rear axle steering, to either quicken tight turns or aid stability in longer ones and there’s active torque vectoring. T

he front splitter and vented bonnet help push the nose down at speed, those carbon slats in the guards vent the wheel arches to reduce lift while ram air scoops on the rear lid feed the engine. The cabin is a mix of business and pleasure with leather, Alcantara and various alloys all blended together. Deep bucket seats look punishing, but provided you avoid the hard bolster on the way in, they’re not too bad at all.

We love the steering wheel; small, devoid of buttons and perfectly round. There’s a full infotainment system, and heated seats even but your money buys the engineering here rather than a cabin full of thrills.


It’s a pricey privilege this, those taking the plunge paying a base price of $580,000. And being a Porsche it doesn’t take long to tick that up, the Weissach package adding $34,310 while other bits take the price of this one to $636,450. But a fast ticket around the ‘Ring doesn’t come cheap.

Despite its obvious race track bent, this is still a usable 911. It might have 700hp, but it can amble along in traffic, only the angier noise at idle giving anything away. There are a few clunks from the gearbox but it engages happily from rest and changes smoothly. Being a 911, there’s good all around vision here, the rearward view only slightly hindered by the roll cage and the high-set wing. With 4WS, it U-turns sweetly, and that lifter gives it clearance when needed. The ride isn’t super stiff but is lumpy over the bumps, a lack of travel and that hard jointed suspension not helping here.

Flatten the throttle for the first time and the PDK box snaps down a few gears, the GT2 surging forward. While that flat six is fairly docile below 3000rpm, it gets raucous from 3500rpm onwards, the response snappy without a whiff of lag. It has an unrelenting urge, bull like from 4000rpm right the way to 7200rpm, the force refusing to diminish. The gearbox in Sport mode doesn’t let up either, the gearshifts snapped through right at the power peak, the next cog ready to keep the velocity steaming.

You can see big numbers on even small straights. We noticed the brief flickering of the traction control light as we proceed through the first three gears, telling us we would be wise to leave the ESP buttons alone. Best to have all the help we could get here. And yet the GT2 RS isn’t just about bludgeoning power, nor is it utterly useless on road.

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All the parts of Porsche’s masterplan come together to produce an exhilarating, visceral drive. The steering wheel is wrapped in Alcantara, which is a little slippery at first, but like the brakes and tyres, starts to grip better once your palms are warmer, and they will start to sweat a little in a thing as rapid as this.

Once you have adjusted to the sheer thrust, you can start appreciating the chassis. We thought it’d have clearance issues, but didn’t touch down once, while there’s just enough compliancy to cope with bumps. It’s not particularly happy over them, but still manages to diffuse them. With the squishy bushes removed, the steering response is immediate. It’s not an overly quick rack but it sure hustles the nose of the GT2 into the turns. And it’s alive; you know about everything that’s happening.

The GT2 grips something fierce, and it’s rock solid stable. This can really honk around a bend too, all those chassis finessers doing their thing to aid the masses of mechanical grip, the TV and 4WS working inconspicuously. We only managed to provoke a minor squeak from the front tyres around a long uphill bend where the 911’s weight balance works against it. But otherwise it has monumental grip, and there’s traction too.

You can’t go bananas on the hot pedal, but you can start easing it on early and be hard down by the time the steering’s straight again. The traction light flickers, but there’s plenty of drive off the quicker bends in third, second reserved for the slower ones, and requiring more care, less enthusiasm. It’s when you encounter a bump out of a bend while trying to get the power down that you’re glad the ESP is there to help. The downside to masses of rubber is the road noise, and the engine is seriously loud too but not quite in an epic way. We opted to push the PDK sport button, and leave the paddles be.

Porsche has spent many long hours honing the code of this gearbox, and have got it so right; on the brakes it goes down, lift the throttle it holds, and it’ll go right to redline on full gas, the changes rapid but not over done for the sake of ‘emotional appeal’. And it combines marvelously with the traction control to rocket this from a standstill to 100km/h in under three seconds. The launch control is ruthlessly efficient, and so easy to use.

The brakes, being carbon, have a different character under foot, the pedal needs more pressure than the norm, but they are brutally effective when you stand on them.

Porsche is relentless in its pursuit of performance perfection and the 911 GT2 RS delivers near ultimate performance, in a near perfect manner.

The Stats

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Model Porsche 911 GT2 RS  Price $580,000

Engine 3800cc, flat 6, T/DI, 515kW/750Nm

Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch, rear-wheel drive

Vitals 2.90sec 0-100km/h, 11.8L/100km, 269g/km, 1536kg

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