First drive: Porsche’s $690K 911 GT2 takes to Albert Park

First drive: Porsche’s $690K 911 GT2 takes to Albert Park

Porsche’s 911 GT2 RS is nicknamed the widowmaker. Our quick lap of Melbourne’s F1 circuit demonstrates why.

PAUL GOVER

news.com.au March 22, 20184:00pm

Paul Gover behind the wheel of the Porsche GT2 RS at the Melbourne Grand Prix circuit before the 2018 Australian Grand Prix.

Halfway through a lap at the Albert Park home of the Australian Grand Prix I know exactly why Porsche’s 911 GT2 RS is called The Widowmaker. This car is evil, wicked, mean and nasty. Did I mention fast? It’s also one of the best ways to get the adrenaline pumping on the road today, even before the shock to the system that comes with a $690,000 drive-away price.

The GT2 can play nice, like Big Arnie in a tailored suit, but if you have the right place and the right weather and the right day it is fully epic.

Epic drive: Paul Gover at the wheel of the GT2 RS at Albert Park.

“This thing can suck you in. It’s easy to forget just how fast you’re going,” says retired F1 racer Mark Webber, who is now a Porsche ambassador and parks a GT2 in his garage at home in Britain.

The GT2 is back as the flagship of the latest 911 range, marking the sign-off for the 991
series before the first of the 992 models arrive next year.

It has completely sold out despite the price, with less than 100 cars set for Australian deliveries this year. There is only a trickle at first, because all the cars for Europe need to be built by December 31 to avoid a change in emission regulations.

Fastest Porsche: The GT2 RS reaches 100km/h in 2.8 seconds.

What makes the GT2 RS so special is that it’s a melding of the GT3 trackday car and the Turbo autobahn blaster, with a range of other special parts from the motorsport division. So it has a turbocharged engine with track-tuned brakes and suspension, wrapped in a body with big wings and even a magnesium roof.

“It’s a road car, it’s not a race car. But it has some pretty epic numbers,” says Porsche Cars Australia technical chief Paul Watson. “It’s the big dog barking. It’s got all the things you need to tame the beast but you can still get it to the limit.”

Paul Gover prepares for his track time in the Porsche GT2 RS at the Melbourne Grand Prix circuit.

Get set for some incredible numbers: outputs are 515kW/750Nm, top speed is 340km/h and the 0-100km/h sprint takes 2.8 seconds, with 200km/h coming up in 8 seconds.

For those who can’t resist, the $69,990 Weissach pack — named after Porsche’s test track — cuts the GT2’s 1470kg mass by 27kg with a carbon-fibre roof and titanium rollcage.

ON THE TRACK

You need to sneak up on a car like the GT2, not just jump in and put your foot down, so at zero-dark-nasty this week I’m rumbling across Melbourne in a GT3 on the way to Albert Park. The expectation is immense, because the GT2 has always been special.

Familiar sights. The Porsche on the Melbourne GP circuit.

The last one I drove was plain scary fast on familiar roads close to home. It’s also Albert Park, which is fast and open and great in the GT3 warm-up cars. They howl and scream and slide and top 240km/h down the pit straight.

But I’m here for the GT2, so I take the time for a pre-flight cockpit check.

The quality is typical Porsche, the body changes — not just the giant rear wing, but carbon-fibre inlets and ducts and the rest — make it look even more dynamic and there are red highlights on the steering wheel, dash and race-style seats.

The GT2 RS is suitably racy, with liberal splashes of racing red.

Parked behind a GT3 pace car with a professional driver to lead me around, I’m nervous. And excited.

It already feels like the thumping road car I remember, with a very grown-up feel and a deep bass exhaust note.

Then we’re away and I have to recalibrate my driving, even after the GT3. It’s important to shift early — the redline is 7000rpm against the latter’s 9000 — because otherwise it’s easy to rattle against the ignition cutout and lose power and drive.

Big brakes pull the GT2 RS up in a hurry.

Once I’ve adjusted to the extra speed, which means the GT2 can be driven two ratios higher than the GT3 at the same pace, the car is epic. It compensates when I make a couple of mistakes and send it sideways, then cranks up to 260km/h on the straight. It’s a car you need to relax into, hustling and not fighting it, and then it rewards you with freaky speed.

How would it be on a public road? Seriously, seriously fast and wonderful fun.

Built for speed: The GT2 RS is unashamedly track-focused.

As I step out of the GT2 RS I am deeply impressed and buzzing as if I’ve had a couple of double espressos. I also know if I never drive another fast car for the rest of my life I’ll still be satisfied with this one.