2008 Porschhe 911 GT2
*Enlightenment, sought by mystics and algebra students alike, blazed a lightning bolt through my soul during a recent visit to Germany. As might be expected, ber-understanding's fist to the forehead was thrown by a new Porsche: the 911 GT2.
The truth, as revealed by Porsche's latest hyper-turbo, did not first flower in the left lane of the autobahn, on a winding road through the Swartzwald, or deep in the apex of a diabolical corner at the Nordschleife. Instead, in keeping with enlightenment's capricious nature, my moment of Zen came within the barbed-wire borders of a defunct Luftwaffe airfield, on a rain-drenched tangle of decayed runways-and from deep within the passenger's bucket seat.
I usually need to drive a car myself before its qualities and faults fully infiltrate my awareness, but, after being strapped next to Porsche test driver and rally legend Walter Rhrl for a few, extremely quick laps of the makeshift track, I discovered all there was to know about driving the GT2. I watched in awe as the lanky German attacked the elements with the cool abandon of a rally maestro, in absolute control, but still jostling my physique and psyche into the sort of synesthetic cross-current of sensual overload that's otherwise achieved (or so I've heard) only by distillates of the poppy. As Rhrl roared through the perfect storm of thick mist, standing water and corrugated pavement (on summer tires with traction control completely off), I began to hear what I was feeling and taste what I saw. As close as I can come to describing it, the experience was simultaneously an out-of-body excursion and the most intimate connection I've ever felt to a cold-blooded object (the car, not Walter, who's a very warm human being). In other words, riding shotgun in the new, third-generation GT2-for five minutes, with a master at the controls-achieved nothing less than an unexpurgated fling with the archetypal sports car.
The GT2 stimulates the intellect as well as the glands and is full of juicy new techniques meant to create the ultimate 911. Most obvious is the aggressive bodywork and big rear wing, designed initially for Le Mans and which more than doubles the downforce of the previous GT2. Underneath, re-tuned H&R springs and Bilstein shocks improve cornering; revised steering rack angles sharpen up turn-in; the slightly tweaked twin-turbo 3.6-liter flat-six blurs the difference between now and then with 530 hp and 501 lb-ft of torque; and a unique-to-the-GT2 six-speed manual dances through the gears with the crisp, short throws of a champion middleweight.
There is too much to tell here (log on to europeancarweb.com for a closer look inside the GT2), but a quick summary must emphasize that the $191,700 GT2 is not just a $122,900 911 Turbo with rear drive, more boost, bigger brakes, et al, though it does share many components with that sublime, more civilized stablemate.
Most important is what the GT2 doesn't share with the 911 Turbo-about 300 pounds. Which is significant on a car with lots of weight hanging near the back and one of the project's goals being sports-car, tail-out cornering that challenges the expert driver. Credit fewer drivetrain components, a titanium exhaust, carbon-composite sport bucket front seats, deleted rear seats, composite brakes with lightweight front hats and an aluminum rear axle subframe for most of the loss.