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A Surplus of Tech and Performance: Has Porsche Gone Too Far?

Clarksonian excess is positively joyous on paper, and the items that grab review headlines trend towards both the extreme and the concrete. Everyone with a bit of petrol in their veins knows that 700 horsepower is a lot, and 200 is simply not very many. At the same time, not everyone agrees on what makes a car fun. What works in a headline to bring people in, and what constitutes thoughtful criticism that keeps people reading are not necessarily the same. For that reason the subject of excess in modern Porsches requires further examination. While the sales figures indicate that Porsche has their customer base pretty well nailed, does it necessarily follow that the brand has stayed reasonable and accessible?

Too Fast?

Mr. JWW contends that maybe, for road drivers, Porsche has gone too far. The GT2 RS is designed to work on track, that is part of its very nature. At the same time, the compromises required to make it the fastest production car around the ‘Ring make it almost entirely inaccessible on the street. At its intended purpose the GT2 RS is virtually unrivaled, but on road the edges of the car’s performance envelope become infuriatingly distant.

This isn’t a problem that is unique to the GT2 RS, the GT2 RS is simply emblematic of it. In terms of straight-line speed any 911 will get deep in to triple digits before it feels like it is breathing hard. Despite being significantly more road and comfort oriented than the GT2, both the Turbo and Turbo S still offer more performance in every metric than can be routinely enjoyed out in the world of traffic and rogue deer.

The merits of « slow car fast » are often parroted, but if the majority of your enjoyment comes off-track that does hold a fair amount of water. At road speeds is a GT2 RS more enjoyable than a Carrera Club Sport or a 993 Carrera RS despite how much more performance it offers? Does this prodigious performance mean modern Porsches offer « too much » performance, or is it indicative of users simply refocusing what sort of enjoyment they seek from their cars?

Too Much Tech?

While I am certain that the paragraphs above are going to be somewhat contentious, I don’t think this will: New cars have a lot of tech in them. New Porsches have an extraordinary, and occasionally overwhelming, amount of tech in them. While Porsche clung to their analog roots for an extremely long time, hop in a 996 Carrera and compare the number of toys on offer to a current car, the 992 is a technological marvel of adaptive suspension, rear wheel steering, and programmable drive modes.

While all of these ingredients make the car faster, do they make for a better sports car? Had Porsche not stayed current the brand’s popular sports cars could have become niche curiosities like the eternally-lovable range of Morgans. While many enthusiasts claim to prefer simplicity, the broader market does not follow. The current 911 tries to be all things to all people, and the host contends that in comfort mode the car is decidedly more GT car than outright sports car.

The interior is more complex as well, with an analog rev counter flanked by configurable digital displays at both sides, and a dash-mounted infotainment display of a size that would make an iPad blush. Perhaps all this makes the new 911 more versatile, but does it make for a better sports car? Is it a step too far?


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Chase A Tuned GT2 RS From Inside A Nissan GTR

It’s soothing to know that many owners of the latest GT2 RS thrash the car around the circuit on a regular basis. Perhaps none of these well-heeled trackday drivers is better known than « sebastien vittel« , whose exploits we’ve covered on this site many times before.

Naturally, taking a GT2 RS to a track day puts a big bullseye on the car’s back, since running with a GT2 RS on a track day is barroom boast that’ll earn the teller quite a few rounds. However, unlike most cars, the camera car in this clip is one which actually stands a chance against vittel’s mildly tuned GT2 RS.

His car uses a Manthey alignment, steel brakes, Endless brake pads, and a taller rear wing. Most importantly, vittel uses the new Michelin Cup 2 R tires, which are what Manthey used on their car to outrun the 918 at Portimao.

Despite having 60 horsepower more, the GT-R isn’t as quick as the Porsche on the straights.

The Nissan has been stripped to 3,300 pounds, makes 760 horsepower, and wears Michelin slicks. That’s still about sixty pounds heavier than the Porsche, but it makes sixty horsepower more than the 911 does. Still, it’s the Porsche that’s the quicker of the two in a straight line. The two engines displace the same volume, but the Porsche’s makes 553 lb-ft from just 2,500 rpm. That might help.

The GT-R’s great strength, four-wheel drive, help it find grip off the driving line.

A straightline advantage, strong brakes, and a handy driver help the Porsche stay ahead, but it’s clear the Nissan is faster in most corners. Searching for grip in some odd places, the Nissan uses its four-wheel drive system to deploy its incredible thrust off the well swept driving line and pass around the outside. It’s fitting that it takes such a brazen move to finish this spectacular battle between two giants, which ought to have given the two drivers plenty to talk about in the bar afterwards.


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Porsche Destroyed Another Production Car Lap Record, This Time At Road America

Back in 2016 Dodge set the Viper ACR loose on tracks all across the country with the intent of setting track lap records. It was fast and successful in this endeavor, which got people talking about how fast the Viper ACR actually was. With 13 track records owned by the Viper at the time, Dodge had a lot to be proud of. Of course, some of those tracks were small inconsequential tracks like Grattan Raceway in Michigan, or Nelson Ledges in Ohio. They did, however, grab some big names like Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta, and VIR.

Porsche is taking a page out of the Dodge book and taking some of those track lap records away from Dodge, as the GT2 RS now has the Laguna Seca, Willow Springs, and Road Atlanta records. As of today, that car has also set the Road America production car lap record with an incredible lap (shown in the video below) of 2:15.17. Driver David Donohue raced the turbocharged rear-drive uber-911 around the Wisconsin race course to set the record.

While a Dodge Viper owned the previous production car record at Road America previously, it was a fourth-generation car which set the record back in 2011 at 2:20.00 with Dodge racer Kuno Wittmer at the wheel. Interestingly, that record had already been eclipsed by a privately-owned GT2 RS last fall when Steve Dimakos hired pro racer Bryan Sellers to run his car at Road America, where he set a 2:17.04 lap. Porsche’s recent effort simply managed to knock a couple seconds off the lap record it already owned.

Donohue stepped aboard the GT2 RS, and set the record during his second lap of the track. That’s how great the GT2 RS is.

Like the Road Atlanta effort, Porsche also brought along a GT3 RS to set a lap time for the fun of it. While down about 200 horsepower, the GT3 RS was only a tick behind on the clock with a 2:18.57 lap time that would still have been fast enough to beat Dodge’s official lap record time.


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Is Rain the Great Equalizer? GT3 RS Hunts GT2 RS At Spa-Francorchamps

They say rain is the great equalizer. Well, the two fastest of the latest GT lineup put that old chestnut to the test on a sodden Spa-Francorchamps, where turbo power shouldn’t offer much of an advantage. Does it?

Interestingly, the turbocharged grunt of the GT2 RS seems more useful at slower speeds.

Getting passed on the inside of La Source (0:10), we can see what the GT2 RS’ additional 180 horsepower can reap if the road is straight. However, the man in the GT3 RS is quite handy, and seems to roll more mid-corner speed and avoid running off-line in the tricky conditions.

After the force-fed car ahead misses the braking point for Bruxelles (1:09), the GT3 RS is back in contention again. Through Pouhon, one of the most challenging corners on the track, the GT3 RS claws back some distance. Either the normally aspirated motor is that much more tractable, or the man ahead isn’t as comfortable at high speeds. In any event, we know the GT2 RS isn’t as friendly when the limit is surpassed, and having run off-line a few corners prior, he’s likely driving cautiously.

Interestingly, the GT2 RS has a slight advantage in some of the slower corners—the 516 lb-ft from 1,900 rpm helps. It just goes to show that, even on a fast track, additional power is only good if it’s exploitable.


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Andy Pilgrim Sets Another Lap Record in the GT2 RS

Pilgrim gets the inner wheels airborne—something he’s wary of doing when the speeds increase.

Once a racing driver gets acquainted with the response and incredible poke of thoroughbred racing cars, they often seem to grow tired of the road-going toys. That’s why getting a seasoned veteran to praise the GT2 RS is a large part of why this car is so endlessly fascinating to the avid track rat. Few road cars have the purpose and focus that can genuinely wow a professional on the circuit, so when Andy Pilgrim, SPEED World Challenge GT Champion, waxes lyrical about how stellar this car is and proceeds to set a new production car record at NCM Motorsports Park, you can’t help but feel some reverence for this beast.

It’s not only the squat stance, neck-stiffening grip, and straightline speed that appeal to Pilgrim. The fit and finish is top-notch, and with the number of options available to one looking to customize, the GT2 RS is also a tinkerer’s toy which can be admired standing still. This is no spartan, scruffy track car—it’s a jewel that actually corners.

It’s good to have this cars in the hands of a few pros to see the full breadth of its abilities. Mike Skeen showed us recently how capable the car is at administering its grunt on a slow-speed track, and Pilgrim shows us its high-speed manners. His smooth driving almost masks the outrageous speeds he’s carrying, though we get to see the stability the aero kit offers as he passes the triple-digit mark.

Note Pilgrim’s careful usage of curbs; how he nudges some when the car is unloaded but avoiding them at higher speeds—something Chris Harris forgot to do when testing a fettled version of the GT2 RS and suffered a pant-wetting moment as a result. In fact, Pilgrim notes how using a lot of curb « makes the car quite unstable » and we can see how the bouncing at 5:10 could upset the car if the speeds were greater.

As the speeds increase, the car seems to work better, and a mild wobble at 135 miles an hour (5:23) is easily held. With the feedback, aero grip, and relatively mild breakaway, this monster is still controllable and encouraging—which is not something many 700-horsepower cars can boast about.


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