The GT2 has been Porsche’s top performing roadgoing turbo model since ‘95, but the addition of the ‘RS’ lifts this special model into a class of its own.
Every now and then you come across a car that just stands out from the crowd. When that car is one of a limited production run, you would expect it to be kept in good nick, and looked after in a rather special way. But when it has just 957 miles on the clock, and it happens to be one of the fastest and most powerful sports cars on the planet and the owner is not afraid to take it out of the garage, then the experience is that much more rewarding.
Since it was first introduced back in 1995, the 911 GT2 has been powered by a 3.6-litre flat six twin-turbocharged boxer-engine, at first this was with an air-cooled engine in the 993 but then later with the water-cooled unit in the 996 and 997 models. Our car, a 2010 911 GT2 RS, can trace its sporting heritage as far back as the Carrera RS 2.7 from 1972, when Porsche first started producing high performance roadgoing 911 models with the ‘RS’ moniker. These legendary RS models, short for Rennsport or Racing Sport, have always been produced in limited numbers which prompted the ‘70s Carrera RS promotional strap line, “Only 500 real men will ever drive it.” In today’s world of gender equality and corporate sensitivity, someone would be bound to take issue over such a statement even if it was used to highlight the capability of the fastest roadgoing 911 ever.
When describing the GT2 RS, words such as brutal, overpowered, aggressive, monstrous, scariest, widow maker and others, have been used to portray the performance of the GT2 RS. While the GT2 RS has elements of all of these descriptive terms, in truth it possesses so much more because it can be driven at street legal speeds and is capable of behaving in a very civilised fashion. It was once said that a child could fly a Boeing 747 ‘Jumbo Jet’, but it took a qualified pilot to land the craft or handle an emergency. In the same way, most people would be able to drive the GT2 RS at normal speeds, it is only when you start to press that right foot, that you need to have a higher than average level of ability in handling a high-performance car properly.
Our Feature Car
So, what is it that makes our feature car so special, surely it is just another lightened 911 GT2 with a bit more power added under the engine cover? For starters, this model represents the last of a line of cars that featured the Mezger engine, in other words, the indirect injection engines that can trace their lineage all the way back to the Le Mans winning GT1 of 1998 and ultimately, if tenuously, back to the 930 Turbo cars. The 997 GT2 RS is also the last of the top end supercars still to run with a manual gearbox, the tendency today being the sophisticated automatic ‘boxes with steering wheel mounted paddle shifts.
Our feature car also has a special lineage in that it was acquired by its second owner in July 2012, the previous owner being none other than Mr. Eric Clapton, who in his two years with the car managed only to put 135 miles on the clock. In the approximately 18 months with its next owner, a further 850 miles was added, and so after four years it still had less than 1000 miles on the clock, it was hardly run in! With a history as described, and being number 195 of a total production of 500 units, it makes this car rather special whichever way you want to look at it.
In order to understand where the GT2 RS stands in the 911 model range, Porsche state that it is the most powerful and the fastest production sports car they have ever made. Within the 997 range the GT2 RS boasts an extra 90 PS and is 70 kg lighter than its GT2 sibling, and while it is more track-focussed, it is still fully road legal. The GT2 RS will complete a lap of the famous Nürburgring’s Nordschleife in just 7:18 minutes, a full 14 seconds quicker than the 911 GT2. The 911 GT2 RS can reach the 125 mph (200 km/h) mark in just 9.8 seconds with the 300 km/h mark coming up in 28.9 seconds. The spec sheet gives the car’s top speed as 205 mph or 305 km/h.
Launched at the Moscow Auto Salon on 25 August 2010, one may ask why people buy into this world of sports cars when only a fraction of its true performance can be legally enjoyed. However, within just a few months of this launch date all of the planned 500 units had been sold, which goes some way towards confirming the model’s place in the market. Owners would not just be buying another fast car to park on their driveway, but instead they would be acquiring a piece of Porsche’s motorsport history that could just as easily be driven down to the shops for your Sunday paper and a bottle of milk. The owner of ‘no.195/500’ shared, “The idea is to pick a nice day and get out there and enjoy it and not to let it rot in a garage, and all the while you have got a car that is hopefully going up in value. I came across it searching on the internet, it was with an official Porsche Centre, so when you buy it from a proper dealer, you know that is kind of good as well.”
Much of the car’s limited mileage has been on local roads, as the owner explained, “I would like to take it to an event or some form of motorsport where people might appreciate it as well, that’s what we would do, because it’s never going to be used as a daily. We have got great roads in South Wales and if the weather is good we would take it out and try to get away from the crowds, and really drive the car.” The day of our photoshoot was the first time that the car had seen a race track, and even here laps are driven in an extremely docile manner in order to capture the car photographically. The owner again, “It’s a catch-22 situation because the car is optimised for the track, but you always have to temper that with how much they cost as they are pretty much irreplaceable.” It is most certainly the owner’s goal to one day take the car on the track because it is difficult to explore the car’s performance potential on the road without being irresponsible, so to be able to just push it on a track and know that one is relatively safe would be the right environment.
2010 GT2 RS
The GT2 RS is born for the track. Starting with the same chassis layout as the GT2, the RS chassis is further optimised for higher performance by featuring a wider axle up front as well as at the rear. These dimensional increases ensure improved roll stability resulting in higher speeds when entering a bend, mid-bend and when exiting a bend. The increase in front track has been achieved by reducing the press-in depth of the wheel centres from 53 mm to 47 mm on each side. Where possible, suspension bars are fabricated from aluminium instead of steel, and suspension components such as wheel track, anti-roll bars, and springs are adjustable allowing for a variable set-up depending on track layout and conditions. The wheels are attached by means of a single, lightweight central nut rather than a 5-stud set-up, drawing on the car’s motorsport heritage.
In a straight technology transfer from the race track to the production line, the GT2 RS is fitted with Porsche ceramic composite brakes (PCCB) as used in the Mobil 1 Supercup series. Up front the GT2 RS is fitted with six-piston aluminium fixed callipers with four-piston callipers at the rear, while the brake covers are made from aluminium to further reduce weight. The car’s Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) settings have been modified, reflecting the RS’s motorsport intentions, the ‘normal’ setting being modelled on the Nordschleife profile. The Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system is standard on the GT2 RS, simplifying the driver’s preferred settings such switching the Stability Control and Traction Control off should this be required.
In order to cut the weight down to 1370 kg (on a full fuel tank and with all operating fluids in the car), savings of 70 kg have been achieved by fitting lightweight body panels while the rear windscreen and rear side windows are fabricated from polycarbonate (except on US models). The front luggage lid is a carbon fibre unit, as are the exterior wing mirror housings, the air intake and outlet vents for the front radiator, the rear wing, the engine cover, and various other smaller panels around the exhaust outlets. The front fenders are also fabricated from body-coloured carbon fibre, while huge, mean looking air intake vents for the engine located just ahead of the rear wheels have a carbon fibre liner.
Under the engine cover lurks a 3.6-litre twin-turbo flat-six engine (Type M96) pushing out a whopping 620 PS at 6500 rpm. That is sufficient to accelerate the car from standstill to 62 mph (100 km/h) in a neck-snapping 3.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 205 mph or 330 km/h. The twin water-cooled variable turbine geometry (VTG) exhaust gas turbochargers are built to handle a maximum charge of 1.6 bar, up from 1.4 bar on the GT2. The benefit of VTG turbochargers is that both air throughput and the flow of air to the turbine wheel may be varied, thereby combining the effects of both a smaller and a larger turbo, being superior power delivery and rapid response. The GT2 RS is driven through a 6-speed manual gearbox.
The Porsche turbo engine requires an expandable air intake manifold to accommodate the alternating pressure levels that build up in the intake system between the throttle butterfly and the inlet valves. An expansion-type inlet manifold is a prerequisite to best deal with these high pressure, high temperature and subsequent low pressure situations, and for the first time in the GT2 RS this manifold is fabricated from a special lightweight synthetic material.
Unlike Porsche’s GT race cars that have a centrally-mounted dual exhaust outlet, the rear end of the GT2 RS is characterised by two single exhaust outlets which exit left and right of the car’s underbody. Due to the high temperatures generated by the turbos and the high engine performance, the mufflers and the tail pipes are made from titanium which is not only lightweight, but it is also resistant to high temperatures.
All that power and performance potential must be kept in good order, and the aero package, while similar to that of the GT2, is mightily impressive. A new, wider front splitter, rear diffuser and a higher profile rear wing all help to keep the car well planted on the tarmac. Large end plates characterise the rear wing which also houses a pair of openings to ram feed air into the engine. As a result of the aero modifications, the car has a drag coefficient of 0.34 and a frontal area of 2.05 m² giving a combined aero figure of 0.70.
Weight saving in the GT2 RS
An extra 90 PS and a weight reduction of 70 kg compared with the 911 GT2, gives the 911 GT2 RS a power-to-weight ratio of only 2.21 kg per horsepower, setting a new benchmark in its class.
Weight reduction measures in the engine include a single-mass flywheel which shaves 8 kg off this component alone. The car’s expansion-type intake manifold made from special synthetic material reduces weight by 3 kg, and the titanium muffler at 9 kg is fifty per cent lighter than the equivalent stainless steel unit. The rear axle aluminium diagonal suspension bars are 1.4 kg lighter than on the GT2, while a further reduction of 3 kg is achieved with new front and rear axle springs. The brake covers on all four composite brake discs are likewise made of aluminium, cutting the weight of the unsprung mass by a further 4.8 kg.
A distinguishing feature is the naked all-carbon fibre boot lid, resulting in a reduction of 2.5 kg over the aluminium unit on the GT2. The flared wheel arches (26 mm wider at the front) are made of a special plastic and are finished in body colour, with a further 4 kg shaved off the overall weight through the use of polycarbonate rear screen and rear side windows. Lightweight door panels carried over from the Carrera GT with their red opening loops and the absence of the normal padding beneath the carpets at the rear of the passenger compartment reduce weight still further. Also contributing to the overall reduction in weight are a number of smaller, individual body components such as the wing mirror housings, and air intakes/outlets.
As an option for the first time, the driver also has the choice of front wheel arches finished in body colour and reinforced by carbon fibre, trimming a further 5 kg. A further option to reduce weight is the choice of a lithium-ion battery, chopping more than 10 kg off the scales. Lightweight headlights featuring halogen technology are also available as an alternative to further reduce the overall mass of the vehicle.
The GT2 RS On Track
The location for our photo shoot, a chat with the owner and the track shots was the pretty Llandow Circuit, about 15 miles south west of Cardiff, Wales. There were some bikers there enjoying a break from the country ride in the early summer sunshine. They eyed us casually, as did one or two other drivers who were putting in some test laps around the short circuit. We set the car up near the paddock and pit lane exit to the circuit, and got on with the statics, moving the car this way and that, to take advantage of the sun. A few laps of the circuit in the camera car followed with the GT2 RS owner showing great restraint in maintaining his distance by riding about 20 to 30 yards behind us. After three or four laps, and with the motion pics in the bag, we returned to the paddock to regroup for the next phase of the shoot.
Now it was my time to climb aboard for a few well-behaved laps of the circuit…yeah right! First impression on getting into the cockpit was, how civilised it all looked. There was no mistaking the fact that you were sitting in a high-performance car, with door-pull straps replacing the conventional door handles, but it was otherwise well appointed. The dashboard and centre console was uncluttered and well finished off with quality materials.
We fired up #195, and the muted burble from behind the comfortable, leather-clad seats disguised well, the mayhem that was soon to be unleashed. This was the ‘comfort’ interior with conventional seat belts, carpeting, electric seats and a satnav. And why shouldn’t it have some comforts, as this would offer the owner the option of touring with it when the mood determined, or having a load of fun with it on a track day when called upon.
And so, with engine burbling away happily behind us, we entered the circuit and passed through the first few curves without incident, and then…BLAM! the floodgates were instantly opened. I was sure that I could feel the wind through my hair even with the windows up, as I was pressed irrepressibly against the backrest of my seat. The sense of acceleration is other-worldly but there was no associated frantic grabbing of the gear stick to move up a gear, or to wrestle with the steering, everything just happened with smooth and concise movements. There was a notable absence of noise, this being replaced with an urgent sounding…WHOOSH! as the GT2 RS surged forward at an alarming pace.
Being exhaust turbochargers there is obviously a slight delay in the acceleration, there has to be by definition, but it is so imperceptible as to be almost unnoticeable. Arriving at the chicane, the turn-in is precise and the car is incredibly sure-footed, under acceleration on the exit the level of grip was sensational, just like a race car at full chat, thanks to the grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 245/35 ZR 19 rubber up front and the huge 325/30 ZR 19 at the back. Despite our feature car having standard seats, there was absolutely no lateral movement in the corners, one sat well planted and in comfort.
The GT2 RS is so well nailed together, and Porsche have had so many years of making race and high performance sports cars, that the standard of finish inside and out, was exemplary. Even though many panels are lightweight and insulation material is at a minimum, the interior road and wind noise is minimal due in part at least to one’s attention being focussed primarily on the fast-approaching road in front of you.
Priced new at a shade over £164,000 when they were introduced in 2010, when a 997 GT2 RS comes onto the market today they are generally selling for more than double this figure and even more in some cases. Very few have much mileage on them as they are generally not used as a daily runabout, and are therefore usually in very good condition.
In summary then, is it brutal…it can be; is it aggressive…I guess it could be; is it underpowered…not likely. But what does make the Porsche 911 GT2 RS so exceptional is the fact that it is just so phenomenally powerful, so exhilarating…and yet so useable and understated. I just wish they made a few more of them, and in my price bracket…well, one can dream!
|Model||911 GT2 RS (Type 997)|
|Engine & Drivetrain|
|Capacity||3600 cc (M96)|
|Maximum power||620 PS (456 kW) at 6500 rpm|
|Maximum torque||516 lb-ft (700 Nm) from 2250–5500 rpm|
|Front||Spring-strut axle in McPherson configuration optimised by Porsche with independent wheel suspension on wishbones, longitudinal arms and spring struts; split track control arms; cylindrical coil springs with inner-mounted vibration dampers, wheel supports with ball bearings|
|Rear||Multi-arm axle with independent wheel suspension on five arms; split track control arms; cylindrical coil springs with helper springs and coaxially inner-mounted vibration dampers. PASM Porsche Active Suspension Management with electronically controlled vibration dampers; two manually adjustable control maps/set-ups|
|Brakes||PCCB Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes; two brake circuits with individual axle split|
|Brakes front||Six-piston aluminium monobloc brake callipers, cross-drilled and inner-vented composite ceramic brake discs with aluminium brake covers; diameter 380 mm, thickness 34 mm|
|Brakes rear||Four-piston aluminium monobloc brake callipers, cross-drilled and inner-vented composite ceramic brake discs with aluminium brake covers; diameter 350 mm, thickness 28 mm|
|Wheels & tyres|
|Front||9 J x 19 on 245/35 ZR 19|
|Rear||12 J x 19 on 325/30 ZR 19|
|L x W x H||4469 x 1852 x 1285 mm|
|0-62 mph||3.5 sec|
|Top Speed||205 mph (330 km/h)|
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale & Porsche-Werkfoto