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Porsche 911 GT2 RS first drive: The fastest hypercar at a third of the price

Andrew Frankel
Porsche 911 GT2 RS - November 2017

I am beginning to think we’ve all been sold the most frightful dummy. Remember all those hybrid hypercars, the LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder? Launched at approximately the same time on an ocean of weapons-grade statistics and power outputs, these bespoke machines may have been ferociously expensive and massively complex but they did appear to redraw the boundaries of road car performance. So that was ok: progress tends to come at a price.

Well, yes, except for this. This new Porsche 911 GT2 RS may be rather expensive at a whiff over £200,000, but that’s still less than a third of the money charged for the least unaffordable of the hybrid hypercars when they were new. Yet by smashing the Nurburgring lap record – in the process going a ridiculous 10 seconds a lap quicker than its 918 Spyder stablemate - this standard production derivative of Porsche’s most enduring road car design appears to be quicker than them all.

Yet its only battery is the one that starts the engine. What kind of witchcraft has gone on here?

The massive wing is part of an aerodynamic package that really helps the GT2 RS circulate a racing circuit at fearsome speed

Very little as it turns out: the GT2 RS is a very conventional kind of hypercar-killer, just beautifully executed, resolutely adherent to fast car first principles and unmoved by new technologies that don’t assist in its aim.

It doesn’t even have four-wheel drive. What it does have is a 3.8-litre, six-cylinder engine with its turbo boost wound up to provide almost 700bhp. It’s also made from a range of materials from the rather conventional like steel and aluminium to the highly unorthodox such as titanium and magnesium.

And as you can see from a wing pack mean enough to make Batman feel inadequate, it also has a formidable and quite essential aerodynamics package for what is, by one accepted measure at least, the world’s fastest production car.

Suitably sporty, yes? The interior is appreciably different to that of lesser 911s

So here’s where I tell you how it tried to tear my face off and reduced me to a puddle of tears before going off to humiliate its next victim. Except that’s not what happened, and if that sounds a surprise to read, it is no less so to write.

But the truth is the most astonishing thing about the GT2 RS is not how fast it goes, but how it goes fast. There’s no point trying to use any more than a fraction of the performance on the road because it would at best be frustrating, at worse downright dangerous. But it can still be enjoyed thanks to unexpectedly impressive ride quality, excellent visibility, superb steering and the ability to overtake almost anything almost anywhere. 

There's no mistaking one of these - but, as per Porsche tradition, it's still a usable road car

On a racing cicuit it is initially intimidating, but only because at first its acceleration feels like an act of violence. At maximum attack, I saw 1.2g register on the little dial on the dash, which means it gains speed faster than most cars can lose it. Opening the throttle feels like an emergency stop in reverse because, effectively, that’s what it is. Think about that for a second.

In the corners it will beat you up even more, up to around 1.6g with the wings doing their thing. But after a few laps even such brutality start to normalise, and the overwhelming sense it leaves is how accessible its performance is.

Unlike recent Porsche offerings, there's no manual gearbox 

I’d stop short of calling it easy to drive, because nearly seven hundred horsepower being put through the rear wheels of a car with its engine in its boot is never likely to be easy, but it wasn’t just manageable, it was enjoyable. Exploitable even.

Even after two or three laps of an admittedly dry Silverstone, I was happy to drive it on and over the limit and, unlike its very frightening, 611bhp predecessor from 2010, it didn’t scare me once. 

And that, far more than its raw power, is the secret of its speed. Power is pointless if it can’t be controlled, and it is the way you can bend this monstrously powerful machine to your will that is its crowning achievement.

That, and the fact that it will blow any passing million-pound hybrid hypercar into the weeds.

cars porsche 911 - a celebration

THE FACTS

Porsche 911 GT2 RS

TESTED 3,800cc, twin-turbocharged flat-six petrol, seven-speed double clutch gearbox, rear-wheel drive

PRICE/ON SALE from £207,506/now

POWER/TORQUE 690bhp @ 7,000rpm/535lb ft @ 2,500rpm

TOP SPEED 211mph

ACCELERATION 0-62mph in 2.8sec

FUEL ECONOMY 23.9mpg/15.6 mpg (EU Combined/Urban)

CO2 EMISSIONS 269g/km

VED £2,000 first year, £450 next five years, then £140 

VERDICT Around a racing circuit, probably the fastest production car the world has ever seen yet, compared with a million pound hypercar, it is cheap, practical and comfortable. Half a century on, it seems the 911 is not quite done surprising us yet.

TELEGRAPH RATING Five stars out of five

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