Porsche 911 GT2 (2008) Review

By: Michael Browning

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2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2
2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2
2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2
2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2
2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2
2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2
2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 2008 Porsche 911 GT2

You don't have to be Jim Richards to appreciate the devastating performance of Porsche's new sledgehammer GT2.

Porsche 911 GT2 (2008) Review
2008 Porsche 911 GT2

 

Porsche 911 GT2 

[April 2008] The fact that multiple Bathurst and Targa Tasmania champion Jim Richards chose the latest Porsche 911 GT2 over a Targa-ready GT3 RS already in his garage for this year's Targa rally says something about the hardcore, uncompromising nature of the latest GT2.

The third-generation GT2 just arriving in Australia is the most motorsport-focused 911 in Porsche's current model line-up; it's also the fastest and most powerful Porsche 911 ever homologated for road use.

Like its predecessors - the air-cooled 993-series model introduced in 1995 and the 996-series GT2 that arrived in 2001 - the 997-series GT2 employs the same simple formula: Porsche's twin-turbo engine in a lighter, more motorsport-focused two-wheel drive instead of an all-wheel drive chassis.

While the GT2 shares many of its components with the 911 Turbo, the two cars travel down quite separate production paths at Porsche. Whereas the 911 Turbo is a regular production model the top-of-the-range GT2 was developed like the GT3 and GT3 RS by the Porsche Motorsport Division.    Despite sharing the same, albeit slightly less powerful (353kW) version of the Turbo's 3.6-litre 'boxer' six-cylinder engine and some of the suspension and chassis architecture, the two cars are quite different.

The 'old' GT2 for example had very few active safety aids fitted, which led to its slightly daunting nick-name of the 'widow-maker'. Driving on the limit without computer intervention is second-nature to professionals like Jim Richards, but ultimately challenging for many other owners not accustomed to feeding 355kW through the rear wheels.

With the new GT2, the balance has returned. Despite having a similar raft of safety features to the 911 Turbo, the principal difference in the new GT2 is that when you deselect them, 'off' now means off until you restart the engine.

Just how serious Porsche is about the GT2 as a track-day hack can be judged from its spec sheet. The engine is a substantial 37kW more powerful than that of the 911 Turbo, with the extra grunt coming from larger, flow-optimised turbochargers. But the real driving difference between this power unit and the one in the previous GT2 is the spread of power, thanks to the Variable Turbine Geometry (VTG) that delivers its considerable 680Nm consistently from just 2200-4500rpm.

Add a relatively low unladen weight of 1440kg (145kg lighter than the 911 Turbo) and you have an exceptional power-weight ratio of 3.69kg/kW. That combination thrusts the GT2 from 0-100km/h in just 3.7secs, 0-200km/h in an equally neck-snapping 11.2secs and delivers a top speed of 329km/h. As a result, the GT2 now holds the lap record for a road-going 911 on the Nordschleife (north circuit) of the Nurburgring, with former World Rally Champion Walter Roehrl nailing a lap time of 7min 32secs - similar to what he achieved in a V10 Porsche Carrera GT around five years ago.

But despite these impressive facts, the GT2 doesn't feel scary, even on Sydney's super-fast Eastern Creek Raceway that was the test track selected by Porsche for the model's Australian introduction.

It takes confidence to let a posse of journalists of various talents loose on a race circuit in a $425,700 supercar, but in hindsight it wasn't risky business.

Like all Porsche cockpits, the GT2 has a user-friendly, familiar feel, and despite the GT2's 25mm lower ride-height, you slip easily into the shapely new lightweight carbonfibre-reinforced sports bucket seats.

Despite the race-bred components employed, getting underway requires no more skills than starting a Toyota Corolla. Developed for GT3 Cup racing the short-shift six-speed gearbox is delightfully light in action, masking the significant changes within its alloy casing compared to the unit in the 911 Turbo.

The clutch is also very light and progressive and within a few hundred metres you feel remarkably at home in one of the world's most dynamic supercars.

These things are important if you plan to use the GT2's standard 'Launch Assistant' regularly. Simply depress the clutch in first gear and then floor the accelerator; watch the revs rise to an ECU-controlled 5000rpm and the boost to read 0.9 bar, then step off the clutch. Two thin black lines are all the evidence of optimum acceleration.

While working out our optimum lines on the Eastern Creek circuit the most impressive aspect was not the car's considerable acceleration, and braking performance with its standard carbon brakes, but the nimble response of the chassis.

As well as sitting lower than the Turbo, the GT2's suspension is firmer and tauter. Larger anti-roll bars, combined with harder springs and revised suspension geometry have created a chassis that responds to wrist, rather than arm movements.

It's possible to adjust the camber front and rear to deliver an optimum set-up, while the lighter aluminium rear axle subframe, the use of titanium for the exhaust system and the lighter bi-plane rear wing have combined to further reduce the GT2's rearward weight bias, with the distribution now a 911-best 62/38 per cent.

However my three full laps of Eastern Creek left me with a strange emptiness. Here unquestionably was one of the world's true supercars and one uniquely designed for this circuit environment, yet somehow I was not as awed by the experience as I had expected to be. Driving this car at eight-tenths was immensely enjoyable, but not the challenge I had expected.

That said you can be sure that many weekend warriors in the GT2 queue will want to emulate the success of Jim Richards. The difference in the new GT2 is that they may be able to grow old disgracefully with their experience.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

2008 Porsche 911 GT2

 

BODY: two-door coupe

WEIGHT: 1440kg

ENGINE: 3.6-litre six-cylinder turbocharged

DRIVETRAIN: rear eng, RWD

POWER/TORQUE: 390kW at 6500rpm/680Nm from 2200-4500rpm
 
TRANSMISSION: six-speed manual

PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h - 3.7secs. Top speed -  329km/h

PRICE: $425,700

 

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