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Turbo v Carrera: 964 RS v Turbo II

Less is more. Or perhaps more is more. After an unforgettable day with two iconic 964s, I’m still struggling to decide. Both cars are Midnight blue,
and both will set you back around £200,000, but there the similarities end. As driving machines the Carrera RS and Turbo 3.6 could scarcely be more different.

I rendezvous with Editor Lee at Hexagon Classics, where the 911s are waiting outside. I’m drawn to the RS first: its neat, narrow-body lines and just-so stance look purposeful yet achingly pretty.

The Turbo is almost cartoonish by comparison, with swollen flanks, dished alloys and a mighty rear wing. If the former appeals to connoisseurs, the latter is an unashamed crowd-pleaser.

Driving either Porsche around London would, frankly, be like eating a Michelin-starred meal in a motorhome, so we set a course for rural Buckinghamshire, me in the RS and Lee in the Turbo.

As we join the gridlocked North Circular, though, I’m already beginning to regret my choice. The Rennsport’s cabin is so spartan it borders on masochistic. Indeed, it’s more useful to list what it doesn’t have: items binned include the sunroof; air conditioning; electric front seats, windows and mirrors; rear seats; radio and cassette player; heated rear window; central locking and alarm. 

This isn’t what carmakers euphemistically term ‘decontenting’, however. The reborn RS also has a seam-welded bodyshell, aluminium bonnet, thinner glass, shorter wiring loom, virtually no soundproofing and no underseal.

Porsche’s standard ten-year anti-corrosion warranty was cut to three years as a result. On the plus side it weighs 120kg less than a 964 Carrera 2 in Lightweight spec, as tested here.

Hemmed in by towering SUVs as we approach Hanger Lane, I have only the coarse clatter of the single-mass flywheel for company. Even at idle the RS sounds austere and combative, the fluctuating churn of its flat six transmitted to my ribcage via hard-shell Recaro seats.

Its ride is rock solid, too, amplifying every ripple in the road. Thank 40mm lower suspension derived from the Carrera Cup racer, larger 17-inch alloys and solid engine mounts.

Filtering onto the A40, a national speed limit sign finally hovers into view. The Turbo is up ahead and I watch its haunches squat as Lee lights the fuse. I slip the stubbier gear lever into third and give chase.

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991 v 992: the ultimate battle

It’s fair to say Porsche’s executives can be mighty pleased with the way the company’s eighth generation of 911 has been received so far. The Neunelfer is, after all, the bedrock of Zuffenhausen: an entire automotive operation is administered with this iconic car at its centre.

Of course it’s crucial that any new 911 must succeed in obtaining the approval of a global fanbase so impassioned by it. In the case of the 992, succeeded it has… and then some.

Not since the arrival of the 997.1 has a new generation of 911 been met with such resounding acclaim by all corners of the motoring spectrum. The 992 has built nicely on the foundations of the 991 before it, an era which didn’t exactly enjoy the same instant endearment.

Its bloated size over the outgoing 997 was lamented, as was the uptake of electrically assisted steering, both of which were seen as surefire signs of a general creep away from the 911’s all-out sports car demeanor in favour of a more comfortable grand tourer.

Despite what might best be described as a takeoff with turbulence, the 991 has gone on to become one of the most popular 911 generations of all time, right where it matters – in the showroom. Even after that mid-life introduction of turbocharging for the entire Carrera range, customers continued to back the car handsomely with their wallets. As a result, the 991 is a best-seller.

The 992 is still wet behind the ears in terms of its production cycle. There are only four models to choose from, Carrera S or 4S in Coupe or Cabriolet, but, with sales managers in an effervescent glow from early reviews, it’s about time the new arrival was put directly against its predecessor.

The 992 Carrera 4S Coupe’s RRP in the UK might be £98,418, but once you’ve added some sensible options you won’t see much change from £115,000 – our Dolomite silver press car here comes in at £116,467.

That’s the same figure you can expect to pay for a 991.2 GTS right now, either straight from the production line, as some late examples are still being built alongside the 992, or from a host of used examples currently available with around 1,000 miles on the clock. The stage is therefore set: what’s better, a new 992 C4S or a well-specced 991.2 C4 GTS?

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991.2 GT3 v 991.1 GT3 RS: which is better for £150k?

The ever-changing nature of the Porsche marketplace often throws up some interesting conundrums for the 911 buyer. As values of separate models fluctuate, they often combine to bring about new scenarios for those in the market to consider: ‘What’s around for my £100,000?’ for example. Right now there are many different choices of 911s available at many different price points. As a case in point, for £40,000 you could choose anything
from a G-series classic, to a 996 Turbo, to a 997.2 Carrera S right now. The market’s constant evolution means different cars move in and out of the equation, whatever your budget. It’s what keeps things interesting, in many ways.

As another case in point, only five years ago we ran a head-to-head road test in this very magazine asking which was the better Turbo for your £60,000: 993 or 997.1? Today the 993 is worth at least double that, while a 997.1 can be had for £50,000.

Market circumstance has dictated the 991.2 GT3 and 991.1 GT3 RS have been trading hands for roughly the same money for a while now, so the question we’ve routinely found levied in our direction in the past year is thus: ‘Which is the better buy for my £150,000; a Gen2 991 GT3 or Gen1 991 GT3 RS?’

Really, there are multiple answers to the question, and it all comes down to what you’ll do with the car. We’ve therefore assessed both the 991.2 GT3 and 991.1 GT3 RS over three practical categories, investment potential, track day use, and on the road, which covers all possible ownership intentions.

For the full article on the 991.1 GT3 RS v 991.2 GT3, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 174 in shops now, or get the issue delivered direct to your door via here. You can also download our hi-res digital edition, featuring bonus galleries, to any Apple or Android device. 

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Porsche 997 v 991 GT2 RS tested on track

When we think about ‘Porsche’ and ‘Rennsport’, which connotations spring to mind? For me it’s the many ingredients which make the visceral experience of a raw 911: ostentatious aero; a stripped interior; loud, mechanical noises from inside the car; razor sharp throttle response and direct, unfiltered steering. The concept of a turbocharger wouldn’t be high on the list of too many enthusiasts.

Perhaps it should though, for Porsche’s history with turbocharging is as rich as its narrative with racing, the company’s endeavours on the track spawning the concept of its Rennsport cars for the road in the first place. Even before the company had unveiled its 911 Turbo to the world in 1975 it had already set about trying to race it. Built by Norbert Singer, the 2.1 Turbo RSR was constructed according to FIA Group 5 rules and pitted alongside sports ‘silhouette’ cars from rivals including Ferrari and Matra. It raced at Le Mans in 1974 – with every top-level Le Mans Porsche since using forced induction.

It finished 2nd overall to a Matra driven by a certain Gérard Larrousse, keeping a host of open-cockpit prototypes honest. It was no fluke: the RSR Turbo went on to record another 2nd place in the Watkins Glen 6 Hours, 7th at the 1,000km at Paul Ricard and 5th at the Brands Hatch 1,000km on the way to helping Porsche finish third in the World Sports Car Championship that year.

Alas, it was to be the only turbocharged 911 to officially adopt the Rennsport name. New rules from the FIA stipulated a change, Porsche going on to spawn the 911 Turbo-based 934, 935 and 936 thereafter. That is, until 2010. Following three generations of GT2 in the 993, 996 and 997, Porsche unveiled the 997 GT2 RS. Ostensibly a Frankenstein of the 997.2 Turbo S and 997 GT3 RS 4.0, it was a carbon-clad, lightweight monster with rose-jointed rear suspension, its tuned, twin-turbo motor making it the most potent road 911 of all time with a mighty 620hp at its disposal.

Although it never really featured in top-level works or customer racing (save for Jeff Zwart’s record-breaking Pikes Peak run in 2011), the 997 GT2 RS looked to be sharing the 2.1 Turbo RSR’s destiny of being an exotic anomaly interwoven in the Porsche Rennsport tapestry. There was no indicator of a successor in the pipeline, the 991 generation skipping the GT2 moniker entirely. Then, in autumn 2017 at, of all places, the launch of a new Xbox racing sim, Porsche announced the arrival of its 991 GT2 RS.

With only 500 997 GT2 RS’s and an estimated 2,000 991 GT2 RS’s worldwide, it’s not often you’ll see one of each generation side by side. However, that’s exactly the sight we’re treated to on arrival at Silverstone’s Porsche Experience Centre ahead of our twin test of both these performance goliaths. Representing GT2 RS genesis, the established 997 is the platinum smash hit, its 991-shaped replacement posing as the awkward second album. Can it really take Porsche’s blown Rennsport to a new level?

We’re yet to turn a wheel in either, but the 991 is already asserting itself, towering above the 997. The 991 simply looks like a Cup car, albeit with licence plates, its rear wing dwarfing the 997’s comparatively modest proportions. We’ll save the comparisons for later, though. After a quick cuppa and sign-on, it’s time to get reacquainted with the 997.

For the full feature on our 997 v 991 GT2 RS track test, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 171 in shops now. You can also order your copy here for delivery to your door anywhere in the world, or download to an Apple or Android device of your choice. 

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R v GT3 v Carrera T: Revival of the manual 991s

What a difference a few short months can make. For a time it looked like the 991 generation was threatening the very existence of a manual gearbox in a Porsche 911 altogether. Unwanted alterations to the new stick shift, twinned with the prominence of PDK, lead some to believe the company was at one point shaping up for a future solely dedicated to auto-shifting sports cars, similar to events at some of its rivals.

While this ‘death of the manual’ movement has raged like a fire through the workshops of other automotive manufacturers, nobody really expected the flames to be fanned as far as the doors of Zuffenhausen. After all, a Porsche has always been about style over outright speed – exemplified by the company’s time-honoured tradition of placing the tachometer and not the speedometer in the centre of the 911’s five dials. It’s how you get there, not how fast.

And yet, as is well documented, it was the 991 generation which began to change the 911’s relationship with the manual gearbox from the get-go. Upon launch at the tail end of 2011, enthusiasts found the six-speed stick shift in the 997.2 replaced by an all-new gearbox for the 991.1, which featured an additional seventh ratio. Conceptually something of a modern-day overdrive gear, this seventh ratio was exceedingly tall, intended for cruising on motorways or the Autobahn, all the while keeping engine revs low and thus improving the new 911’s MPG return.

On paper these changes made sense, but in reality enthusiasts struggled to adapt to the feel of the seven-speed shifter, it unnecessarily clunky and lacking a directness through each gate which the 997’s unit had mastered so wonderfully. Somewhere beneath that protracted H-pattern, Porsche’s slick stick shift had seemingly been lost.

Then the arrival of Porsche’s first 991-generation GT car in 2013 gave rise to another revelation. The GT3 was presented for the first time with a PDK-only transmission, Porsche telling Total 911 in issue 99 at the time: “There’s no chance of a manual gearbox in the future.” The PDK-only GT3 RS that followed went some way to hammering home the point, which left many enthusiasts wondering what future lay ahead for the manual gearbox in a Porsche.

Alas, we know how the script developed from there. A wave of appreciation for manual gearboxes (some might even have called it a public outcry) brought about the Carrera S-engined Cayman GT4 in 2015, before the emphatic arrival of the 991 R in 2016 as the 911’s saviour of the stick shift.

The R proved Porsche’s GT department was prepared to listen to its customers, yet the car’s exclusivity (just 991 were produced worldwide)
meant only a few could benefit from this significant U-turn in company policy. Porsche again listened, unveiling the 991.2 GT3 last year with PDK but, crucially, a six-speed manual gearbox was available as a no-cost option.

The company went further still. For those who couldn’t get their hands on this latest prize GT car, Porsche presented the Carrera T: essentially a pared back and driver-honed version of its base Carrera 911. The line-up was thus complete, with stick shift available, at last, throughout the entire contemporary model range.

So, these are the crusaders; reviving the spirit and flair of the manual gearbox, this the crucial ingredient in any sports car that wishes to be associated with any notion of an analogue, purist drive. The big question, of course, is what is the driving experience on offer from all three?

For the full article, including expert buying tips for each 911 Cabriolet model, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 168 in shops now or get it delivered directly to your door via here. Alternatively you can download the issue to any Apple or Android device. 

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