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Porsche 991.2 GT3 RS v rivals

It won’t be under seven minutes,” said GT director Andreas Preuninger when I asked him about a Nürburgring laptime at the 991.2 GT3 RS reveal in Finland earlier this year. He was wrong: it is, and comfortably so, the Lizard green RS lapping the ‘Green Hell’ in 6 minutes 56.4 seconds in the hands of Porsche works racing driver Kévin Estre. That’s 24 seconds faster than the previous GT3 RS, which is little short of incredible.

It underlines the changes to the second-generation car, revisions which, on paper at least, look relatively insignificant. The engine is now that of the current GT3, albeit featuring a differing intake and exhaust. Its power creeps up – not leaps up – to 520hp, it revving to the same, glorious 9,000rpm. The increase is just 20hp over the GT3 and the Gen1 GT3 RS, Preuninger suggesting in Finland that the extra power would only account for a second or so worth of improvement.

Aerodynamic revisions, the immediacy and intricate control of the engine, the electronic differential, rear-wheel steering and PDK transmission and, crucially, the suspension would play their part, too. The new car borrows heavily from its GT2 RS sibling, that means 991 Cup in Nürburgring specification-derived, solid-mounted suspension, with spring rates double that of the outgoing RS, but softer dampers and anti-roll bars. It’s here that Preuninger suggests the biggest gains have been made, and on the road there’s no denying they’re revelatory.

If the 991.1 GT3 RS felt the most distinct departure from its mere GT3 relation previously, then the 991.2 shifts the RS genre into a different area again. The changes on the road are scarcely believable. Had you told me a 991.1 GT3 RS could be so comprehensively out-pointed I simply would not have believed you. The most familiar element is its engine, Porsche’s naturally aspirated 4.0-litre unit a masterpiece, previous experience of it in the standard GT3 underlining that. In the RS it’s sharper, even more immediate and sounds absolutely incredible. The GT department has worked extensively on the systems controlling it, indeed, the entire GT3 RS project defined by adding precision and accuracy to every single element of the car’s controls.

You notice that as soon as you brush the accelerator, the enthusiasm to spin up to its redline even more apparent than with the GT3. The differing intakes, the titanium exhaust and the loss of some carpet and sound deadening give it a clearer, more evocative voice, too, the mechanical sound not raw, but cultured with edge. Peak power’s at 8,250rpm, but just try and avoid chasing that redline at 9,000rpm. There is no let-up as you do, the reward not just the evocative notes the flat six creates, but the continued rush of acceleration across its entire rev-range.

We’ve not got the Nürburgring at our disposal today to explore that, instead we’ll make do with the de-restricted country roads around the Isle of Man. The RS can stretch its legs here, though it might not be able to do so were it not for the sophistication of the suspension. It’s here, specifically, that the GT3 RS takes an evolutionary leap over its predecessor. The GT2 RS-derived set-up allows incredible control and composure, despite tarmac that’s about as far removed from a racing track as it could possibly be. Imperfections on the surface are the norm, smooth tarmac here evidently anomalous, which makes it even more incredible to think that the bike racers who call these roads home during the TT races carry so much speed down these same roads.

For the full group test against the 996 and 997.2 GT3 RS, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 166 from the shops now or order it direct to your door here. You can also download to any Apple or Android device. 

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Porsche Index: 997 Carrera GTS

Porsche is hardly shy when it comes to celebrating the 911, and it certainly knows how to tempt buyers with something extra special, but how to celebrate the demise of one of the most respected generations of all? The answer was the GTS, and even the quickest perusal of the spec sheet reveals an enticing confection.

Tempting enough, in fact, for a manual Coupe with low mileage to set you back in the region of £70,000 today according to Greig Daly from RPM Technik and RSJ’s Darren Street. To put that in perspective the Coupe cost £77,000 at its 2010 launch and, really, prices only ever dipped as low as £50,000 back in 2013.

Based on the wider-hipped shell of the Carrera 4S, Porsche added a Sport Design front apron with a black-painted lower edge that extended to the sills and rear bumper. 19-inch RS Spyder centre-lock wheels were standard, while low-key GTS logos completed a look that was both subtle and effective. The same could be said of the cabin, the ambience managing to be both tasteful and clearly a notch up on the standard Carrera – an effect that was entirely fitting for a special 997. Black instrument faces and stainless-steel sill trims looked terrific, the rear seats had gone, saving 5kg, and just about every surface had seen the liberal application of Alcantara.

There was plenty of standard equipment, too, including climate control, Sound Package Plus and the PCM system, although naturally there was scope to enrich this further if your pockets were deep enough. It looked and felt superb, but what of the mechanical specification? Well, it was suitably impressive, thanks to the adoption of the Powerkit that boosted the output of the 3.8-litre flat six to 408hp. That arrived at a deeply sonorous 7,300rpm and was backed by 420Nm of torque, the same as the Carrera S but spread across a wider rev range.

Transmission options were the familiar six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK (an extra £2,500), the latter gaining a launch-control function if Sport Chrono Package Plus had been specified. A manual Coupe despatched the 0-60mph sprint in 4.6 seconds – it was swifter still with PDK – and the electronics called time at 190mph. Porsche didn’t stop there, specifying the GTS with Porsche Stability Management (PSM) and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), with a firmer, lower, limited-slip differential-equipped PASM Sports set-up optional. Beefier brakes featured larger, thicker discs, while anyone planning track use could delve deeper into the options list and their bank account for (largely unnecessary) PCCB carbon ceramic items. Oh yes, and you could have all of the above as a Cabriolet if you preferred.

The only major change arrived in July 2011 when the four-wheel drive C4 version was added to the mix, the electronically controlled system featuring Porsche Traction Management that apportioned torque via a multi-plate clutch, and included a limited-slip differential at the rear. Aside from an additional 60kg and a red reflector between the rear lights that told onlookers you’d chosen your GTS with all-weather abilities it was the same as the C2, just a little pricier, with Coupe and Cabriolet costing £83,145 and £90,024 respectively.

For our comprehensive buyer’s guide on the 997 Carrera GTS, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 164 available here. Alternatively, you can subscribe to the world’s only magazine dedicated to the Porsche 911, with every issue delivered direct to your door.

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Porsche releases new C4 GTS British Legends edition

Porsche Cars Great Britain has revealed a special 991.2 C4 GTS British Legends Edition 911 to celebrate the achievements at La Sarthe of Brit Drivers Richard Attwood, Derek Bell and Nick Tandy. Available immediately in one of three colour combinations evoking the famous Porsche livery of each driver’s period winning car, this special GTS has been developed with the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur department for the UK market only.

Attwood, Bell and Tandy have all had a direct hand in choosing the spec of the car too, with the C4 version of the current 991.2 GTS chosen to evoke the all-wheel-drive layout of the current 919 e-hybrid piloted by Tandy in the World Endurance Championship. It is also the fastest 911 in the current Carrera range. Alcantara and carbon trim provides a direct link to the cockpit of the racing cars each driver successfully pedalled to the top step of the podium at Le Mans, while a comprehensive standard specification including Sports Chromo Pack and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control further enhances the car’s motorsporting aspirations. A choice of either seven-speed manual or PDK transmissions is available.

Though the spec of each British Legends car is identical from a technical aspect, the three variants are all distinguishable by their liveries, with the Attwood car finished in Guards red with black centre-lock wheels to evoke the Salzburg livery of his 1970 Le Mans-winning 917, the Bell GTS finished in Sapphire blue metallic to evoke his 956’s Rothmans livery, while the Tandy car is finished in Carrera white metallic which of course honours the appearance of his 919 hybrid from his 2015 triumph. All versions then carry small side decals featuring the iconic number of each driver’s Le Mans conquering car, with the driver’s signature printed on a discreet plaque mounted aft of each car’s B-pillar.

Generously specced and unique in their appearance, these cars offer a rare opportunity for motorsporting aficionados to suitably honour their most admired Brit racing driver from Porsche’s hallowed works roster. However, theres a high price for such admiration, as the GTS British Legends editions are available from £122,376, slightly more than new 911 Turbo money. The cars aren’t part of a numbered production run but Porsche GB says the number available will be small, Total 911 estimating this to be around one example per Porsche Centre.

 

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GTS showdown: 997 v 991.1 v 991.2

It is ironic that in the week Porsche delivered to us a 991.2 Carrera GTS for testing, the UK government announced it is to ban the sale of all internal combustion-engined vehicles by 2040, following in the footsteps of our French governmental comrades which introduced an identical deadline for the final sales of gasoline-powered cars. Meanwhile, Porsche itself has been busy making significant inroads towards production of electric-only sports cars, recently announcing it is to pull out of the WEC LMP1 class in favour of a venture into the electric-only Formula E racing series. This is part of its motorsporting mission to develop sports cars of the future.

There’s no question the end is nigh for the internal combustion engine then, and therefore the motor vehicle as we know it. This of course makes for a fascinating backdrop to a group test here involving three 911 contemporary GTS models seeking to emulate a traditional driving experience.

Produced with driver purity in mind, Porsche introduced the GTS moniker to its 911 range in 2011 with the advent of the 997 Carrera GTS. Something of a parts-bin special to mark the end of 997 production, the first 911 GTS came with a lavish specification, including some one-off details exclusive to Porsche’s new model. The result was a sharper, more focused drive, available across Coupe and Cabriolet body styles in a choice of both rear and four-wheel-drive.

The new GTS proved a commercial sales success for Porsche, those 997-generation cars selling fast for £76,758 and never really dipping below £50,000. Today, a 997 GTS will set you back around the same figure as its original list price, a phenomenal achievement for a 911 Carrera just over five years old.

It is little wonder, then, that Porsche expanded the GTS moniker into an entire sub-brand, enamouring its Boxster, Cayman, Cayenne, Macan and Panamera models with the specification. Naturally this also continued on the 911 with the 991.1, those GTS cars the last 911 Carreras to be fitted with a naturally-aspirated engine, and finally the latest 991.2 generation, released in January 2017. Each car is essentially the pinnacle of its respective Carrera lineup, but which is best of the three GTS 911 generations produced by Porsche to date?

To decide, we gathered a delectable model from each generation for a fast road test along the twisty asphalt of the Suffolk countryside. The specification of our cars are intentionally as close to that ‘purist’ GTS blueprint as possible, so they’re all rear-wheel-drive Coupés, although the Riviera blue example is PDK, while the other two are fitted with a manual transmission. In keeping with the chronological order in which they were released, we begin our test with a seat in the 997…

To see the full feature, get your hard copy of Total 911 issue 158 here or download to your digital device from Newsstand. 

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Company profile: Heritage Parts Centre

The Porsche owner hunting for spares might think he or she had come to the wrong address: a modern three-storey warehouse with ‘VW Heritage’ emblazoned across its front. After all, hadn’t VW and Porsche gone their separate ways? The sight of a 997 and striking 993 C4S in the directors’ parking spaces is slightly more reassuring, and then the company’s Marketing Manager, Andy Gregory appears. “Yes you are in the right place,” he says. “The directors are Porsche fans and we now supply over 3000 Porsche parts.”

VW Heritage retailing Porsche spares? It turns out there is solid business logic behind this. A ten year company man, Andy Gregory explains that the business really goes back to 1986 when founder David Ward hit on the idea of offering a removals service for students between digs: famously impoverished undergraduates were in no position to call a taxi. But he needed suitable transport, something slightly more versatile than a bare, steel bodied Ford Transit. So he hitched a lift to the Netherlands to buy a Volkswagen T2, the famous VW bus long beloved of campers and hippies. However, no sooner had he got the VW back home than a neighbour leapt upon it and made him an offer he could not refuse.

Budding entrepreneur Ward could see a more lucrative business than trundling students about. He returned to the Netherlands and purchased another VW bus which he converted into a camper van and resold – the enterprise was not called VW Heritage yet, but you can begin to see what was coming. His expertise with VW’s van led to requests for parts from VW Karmann Ghia owners, spares for which like the bus were then more plentiful in Holland and Germany.

Inevitably he began to get inquiries for Beetle items and what originally had been Karmann Classics grew by the mid 1990s into VW Heritage. “We have had to change premises 5 or 6 times in total as the business was expanding,” says Andy Gregory, but we’ll be in Shoreham for good now, I expect – we have enough room to grow.

“VW Heritage took over the Essex-based VW specialist Big Boys’ Toys in 2007, and the name was repurposed and marketed towards classic Golf models in particular. The Big Boys Toys brand was specifically of interest to the company as both Purchasing Director Paul Howard, and current MD Barney Dines worked there in their former years; and having missed out on acquiring the business previously the opportunity was seized with both hands this time round.

The expansion into water-cooled VWs came at the good time, and with Volkswagen only obliged to offer their replacement parts for twelve years there’s a healthy amount of 80’s, 90’s and now 00’s VWs still alive which are all going to be needing assistance in the future. He is at pains to point out though that throughout its evolution, VW Heritage has never lost touch with its ‘run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts’ ethos. “Because we understand the cars as owners ourselves, we can and do talk to customers at length about their projects and offer personal advice. We have also taken the ‘frequently asked question’ idea a lot further by researching client questions we couldn’t answer and building up an information bank. It means that today, although like everyone else we operate mostly online, we still field up to 500 telephone calls a day. Customers like talking to us and it helps cement relationships. A number of people here began as clients and ended up working for us.”

VW Heritage had their hard work recognised by VW Classic Parts in 2011. The obsolete parts division of the German car parts giant needed a UK partner who knew their back catalogue inside out, and picked VW Heritage to represent them here in the Great Britain. Andy explains more “This exclusive partnership expands our offering from 19,000 parts to well over 60,000, and it gives us the privilege of displaying a VW logo next to our brand, even though we remain completely independent”. A massive deal for a business that started on a shared driveway with nothing more than a few hundred quid in their hand.

In 2014 VW Heritage moved to its present site, just behind the river and docks at Shoreham-by-Sea: this impressive modern warehouse with a parts and racking systems worthy of a small manufacturing plant offered three times the space of the company’s previous building. “Our first thought was, ‘how will we use all this space?’ But in three years we have filled most of it,” adds Andy. The company’s business model is not just consumer retail, but wholesale, or B2B as well. Their dedicated trade team spend all day supplying workshops, restoration specialists and even other retailers as well.

The company has embraced further diversification too, becoming a partner in MEYLE UK, the distributor for Hamburg auto parts maker MEYLE. This efficiently makes use the parcelling and logistics set up at Shoreham to despatch MEYLE parts such as suspension control arms to motor factors all around the UK. MEYLE’s range of Porsche parts are all available directly through Heritage Parts Centre.

So where does Porsche fit in? Julian Carter is the Resident Porsche Parts specialist. “It’s something the company has considered for some time: it’s an obvious fit with the VW business and it uses our existing dispatch systems. It also uses a lot of the same suppliers like Dansk, for example. We are building up our marquee expertise – I come from a Porsche spares background and we will be offering the same service to Porsche clients as we do for VW.”

Porsche parts sales will be under the Heritage Parts Centre name and the aim is to complement rather than take over market share. The company’s experience with VW enthusiasts suggests that its personal approach will win Porsche custom. It will extend its own high resolution parts photography to Porsche items so that online enquirers can look in detail at the product. “Frequently they are looking at the part on their screen as they are talking to us on the phone,” remarks Andy.

Much in the same way it has organised social activities for the VW crowd, the company envisages similar events for Porsche. Heritage’s PR executive Eva Brückmann hails from Mönsheim, which by interesting coincidence is about as near to Porsche’s Weissach test facility as you can live. “I was raised on a diet of classic cars,” she says “and my father is the chairman of the local motor club: he organises get-togethers with all sorts of Porsche people: we’d like to plan some of our events round that.”

These are early days for Heritage Parts Centre: the Porsche website began only in June and the initial stock is 3000 parts. “But that covers most of the ground,” says Julian Carter. “We hold most common 911 spares as far as the 997 gen 1. 911s have gone up so much in price that nearly everything is worth restoring now.” VW Heritage employs 75 people who between them speak eleven languages: the firm delivers parts to over 120 countries. They are retailers but also enthusiasts, with the dirt still under their nails. They are good at what they do, and keen to pass on their experience to customers, whom they often come to regard as friends.Their Porsche venture has all the hallmarks of success: we wish them well.

 

Company Proflie:

Founding Directors – David Ward & Nickie Swaden

Managing Director: Barney Dines

Opened: 1986

Contact: +44 01273 444044

www.heritagepartscentre.com

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