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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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993 Targa: air apparent?

The sky is the colour of slate, the temperature scarcely into single figures and there’s a fine drizzle hanging in the air. This isn’t a
Targa sort of day. 
Photographer Dan and I are killing time in the Paul Stephens showroom, ogling Porsches and contemplating a third mug of tea. Dan wants the rain to stop before he can start snapping, but there’s a fully-fuelled 993 Targa outside and I’m itching to get behind the wheel. Eventually, Dan relents. “We’ll just have to work around it,” he shrugs as we climb aboard, raindrops now drumming steadily on the glass roof.

The Targa itself started life as a work-around. Porsche feared the US would outlaw full convertibles on safety grounds, so the halfway-house Targa – with its fixed roll-hoop and removable metal roof – was a means to sidestep legislation back in the 1960s. The drop-top ban never materialised, but Porsche’s Targa proved a sales success and soon became a fixture of the 911 range. It evolved gradually for almost three decades until a radical reinvention in 1996. The 993 Targa had arrived.

Nobody could accuse the 993 of being a work-around. This thoroughly modern Targa boasted a panoramic glass roof that retracted electrically behind the rear window. No longer did the driver have to remove a heavy, cumbersome Targa top and find somewhere to stow it; the 993 morphed from coupe to near-cabriolet in around 10 seconds, and at the touch of a button. The engineering was complex, but the execution brilliantly simple.

The styling, too, was a study in subtle elegance. Interestingly, the 993 Cabriolet, upon which the Targa is based, had been designed to more closely resemble the Coupe. Stylist Tony Hatter said: “I never liked the look of the early Cabriolets. The classical 911 shape is the Coupe. With the 993, we tried to get some of that form into the roof.”

This thinking also permeates the Targa; to the untrained eye, it’s almost indistinguishable from its Coupe cousin. Drag coefficient, too, is an identical 0.33. Unless you happen to be looking from above, the rear side windows – which taper to a sharp point instead of a smooth curve – are the obvious giveaway. Note also the pop-up wind deflector aft of the front screen, two-piece alloys with five concave spokes, absence of rain gutters on the roof and ‘Targa’ script on the engine lid.

‘Our’ Arena red Targa is for sale for £52,995 at the time of writing. At some point during the past two decades, its factory split-rims have been swapped for the more familiar Cup alloys and the rear badge has gone missing but, aftermarket radio aside, the car is otherwise standard. “We rarely see modified 993s,” explains Tom Wood, sales executive at Paul Stephens. “Owners tend to keep them original and simply enjoy driving them.”

The roof remains closed, but I’m already enjoying this one. The expanse of thermally insulated, UV-resistant glass overhead feels like an aircraft-style canopy. It floods the cabin with light, an effect exacerbated by the Classic grey carpets and trim (most owners opted for Midnight blue or black). In contrast to the claustrophobic 993 Cabriolet, with its huge three-quarter blind spots and plastic rear window, the Targa feels airy and accommodating. It looks better than the Cab when ‘open’, too.

For the full road test article on the Porsche 993 Targa, order your copy of Total 911 issue 163 here or download to your Apple or Android digital device. 

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Porsche 991.2 GT3 RS: first look

It isn’t the most obvious place to unveil Porsche’s latest track-focussed, rear-wheel drive machine, but the Porsche Experience Centre, Finland is where Porsche has decided to give us an early look at the next 911 GT3 RS.

Indeed, we’re so early to see it, it has not yet been fully homologated, so all the figures aren’t available. What we can confirm is that all the rumours of a larger capacity, or even a turbocharged GT3 RS are exactly that – rumours. Indeed, the engine, intake, exhaust and electronic controls are lifted almost entirely from the GT3, so that’s a naturally-aspirated, 4.0-litre flat-six revving to 9,000rpm.

Those differences make for a slight increase in power, up from 500hp to 520hp, torque rising by around 10Nm, GT department boss Andreas Preuninger admitting that with the GT3 RS it’s not just about power, but tactility, feel and immediacy. That’s always the promise with an RS, and Preuninger’s team has gone to town to provide it. To achieve that they’ve concentrated on efficiencies, be it the way the GT3 RS shapes and utilises the air it forces through, the control of the suspension, electronic differential, response of the engine and the immediacy of the steering. Every element of the GT3’s make up has been analysed and enhanced in its transformation into the GT3 RS.

Borrowing heavily from its GT2 RS relation, its suspension is all but identical, so bushes are binned in preference of rose joints on every mount – barring the a single one for the rear-wheel steering. The spring and damper rates are essentially that of a 911 Cup car in Nürburgring trim, so there’s significantly enhanced spring rates over the GT3 – as much as double – yet a compliant ride due to the damper settings.

The most obvious carry-over from the GT2 RS is the GT3 RS’s NACA ducts on the bonnet. These, as per its turbocharged relation, not only force cooling air to the brakes, but tidy the airflow up and over the GT3 RS to its rear wing. That in turn is positioned a touch higher, allowing, in conjunction with revisions to the underbody management of the air, the GT3 RS to offer levels of downforce at least as much as if not slightly more than its predecessor, but without generating so much drag.

The top speed remains the same 193mph quoted for the Gen1 car, but that’s likely to be conservative, as is the 3.2 second 0-62mph time. As with the earlier GT3 RS, this Gen2 car will be PDK only, the gearbox, like every other element worked on with some specific RS additions. There are bigger bearings inside, as well as a revised shift strategy, which in conjunction with revisions to software controlling the differential, traction, stability and rear-wheel steering systems allow more speed to be created from the GT3 RS around a track.

How much it’ll manage around that track remains conjecture, as it’s yet to run against the clocks, but Preuninger is confident of a time of around 7 minutes 5 seconds or so. He’s quick to admit that from that sizeable gain only around one second is attributable to the increased performance from the engine, the rest down to the chassis, tyres and aerodynamic changes.

Of course, this wouldn’t be an RS without some mass reduction. It’ll cause some consternation among the detail statos out there, as it’s likely Porsche will quote a kerbweight that matches the outgoing car. That’s 1,420kg in case you need reminding. That, like Porsche’s typically conservative performance figures, isn’t entirely representative, as there’s been a change in the way it can legally homologate the weight, it no longer possible to do so with all the weight saving options on it – think options like PCCB carbon ceramic brakes, plus no air conditioning or radio.

The weight figure, then, is more representative of reality, though Porsche has shifted significant mass, not least 5kg from the interior alone. The biggest potential saving comes courtesy of the possibility of GT3 RS customers optioning the Weissach Pack, which apes that of the GT2 RS, including elements like carbon fibre roof and bonnet body panels as well as magnesium wheels and a titanium roll cage. Choose it and the mass drops by 29kg, though thanks to production delays with the magnesium wheels – which account for around 12.5kg of those weight savings – Porsche will offer the Weissach as a two-stage package, with early customer orders not able to have it with the magnesium wheels.

If you’re in the lucky enough position to have an order in for one you’ll be dropping £141,346 before you add any options – the Weissach Package adding around £21,000 to the GT2 RS, so it’s not likely to be any cheaper here. Like the previous RS, limitations in build capacity, rather than any cap on build numbers will likely mean that individual options like Paint to Sample aren’t offered to UK buyers, in a bid to secure a greater portion of the production availability, though we’re rather taken by the Lizard Green launch colour Preuninger picked for the latest car to wear the RS badge. It’s also good to see the over GT3 RS script making a return, just in case you needed reminding this is something rather special indeed.

 

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Gunther Werks 400R driven: best ever 993?

“I said they were out of their minds. Bespoke bodywork, running gear and everything else that goes along with building a custom car in that short a time. ‘We’re not a TV show, we’ll not do it in a week’”. That was owner of Rothsport Racing, Jeff Gamroth’s response when the call came from Peter Nam at Gunther Werks. They didn’t do it in a week, as Gamroth said, this was not a TV show, but the sheer persistence of Peter Nam and his team saw the 400R to go from concept to the car I’m sitting in today in just six months.

I stumbled across the project mid-summer, Gunther Werks drip-feeding a Facebook group some details of what would become the 400R. If you’ve never heard of the firm before that’s no surprise – I hadn’t. Gunther Werks is a new company, but it’s not come from nowhere. Nam owns Vorsteiner, which specialises in aftermarket wheels and carbon fibre styling for premium manufacturers, Gunther Werks is a natural progression of that. With it Nam has been extremely clever, assembling a team of highly respected names in the air-cooled Porsche community to create the 400R. The a-list roster includes Jeff from Rothsport Racing, Joey Seely from E-Motion Engineering and Carey Eisenloher.

The idea itself, is a simple one. Take a 993 and develop it as if Porsche hadn’t replaced the 993 with the 996 twenty years ago. Not as a mere Carrera though, but as a GT3. Different to the usual backdates, then, this is more of a continuation, bringing the car forward rather than modernising mechanically with a reverential stylistic nod backwards. The 400R is a 993 for today, the past blast forwarded into the present, using modern technology to enhance and improve, all without denying it of its original appeal and driver appeal. Building on it. That was a key goal, Nam determined to create the very best 993 as it could be now, focussed on driving, Gunther Werks demanding that its customers don’t buy it as a trinket, but as a car to be used. And used as intended – hard.

If the concept sounds easy the execution is anything but. It is genuinely difficult to comprehend that the 400R was a standard, pre-Varioram Carrera 2 back in May 2017. To create it Gunther Werks tasked its team…

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