How much is too much? In the world of the 911 there would appear to be no such thing. Every generation becomes more extreme than the last and the 997 GT2 is no exception. The premise is very simple: less weight, more power, fed to the rear boots only, and a premature trip to the morgue if you get it wrong. Forgiving they're not and, while some fans dismiss the GT2's reputation as the widow maker, I personally know of three people who are no longer here because the 996 GT2 turned out to be way too much.
Still, here I am with a 993 Turbo, a 996 GT2, a 996 Turbo, and a crazy-looking 930 Flatnose that's been under the knife at Ruf. All four are more extreme than when they left Stuttgart, and this isn't to be a scientific, against-the-clock exercise but rather an experiment in seat-of-the-pants experience: How different are they really and what thrills do they individually offer?
I tried the 996 GT2 first and the "GT2 RS 650 Evo" decals on its rump show it's a bit special. It started out as a '03 GT2 Club Sport before being overhauled and treated to a 600hp makeover courtesy of our helpers at Specialist Cars of Malton.
It still wears its factory-fitted carbon brakes, so at least I know it'll stop when I want it to, but then again, not much use if the car's airborne at the time. It was given an H&R fully adjustable and lowered suspension, hybrid turbos, high-flow intercoolers, revised inlet manifold and ignition system, upgraded ECU, a stainless steel sport exhaust with equal-length manifolds, and 100-cell cats.
Waving goodbye to our gathered party, possibly for the last time, I head off for my first adrenaline rush of the day. The extra power over the factory GT2 is obvious right from the start and, as I pile on the speed, snatching gears as quickly as possible so both hands remain on the wheel, I remember that a will is still on my to-do list.
Not merely fast, it's from another dimension entirely. I find myself too scared to pile on the speed when exiting corners, simply because I could end up in the next county if I get this even slightly wrong. It's too much for these roads, with the front end bobbing about and the rear tires smoking in First, Second, Third, Fourth-I know my limits and this GT2 is way past them. I suppose that if the suspension settings, particularly up front, were a bit softer to allow more bite I'd feel a bit more confident. It's usable enough at low speeds but, deeply impressed as I am by how much force is on tap, it's not for me.
Perhaps the 993 will be more like it. Another 500-plus horsepower nut job, this gorgeous car has a Bilstein PSS9 adjustable suspension, bigger brakes, hybrid turbos, Cargraphic ECU, a high-output fueling system, extra oil cooler, and a Cargraphic sport exhaust with equal-length manifolds.
What about the speed? There's a lot of it but frankly, after the GT2 RS, it feels a bit slow. There's at least 525 hp to play with but it feels sedate and I find myself, quite inexplicably, yearning for more power-it's bizarre. I do like it though-it's benign enough to let me exploit the performance potential without wanting to commit murder and that full-bore symphony letting rip out back does make me feel like a hero. In this company, though, it's just not mental enough, and that's what this test is supposed to be about.
So, to the Viper Green monster lurking in the background. Adding to the visual impact are a Gemballa rear spoiler and 19-inch Techart alloys. Under the skin is a Bilstein PSS9 adjustable suspension and a Techart sport exhaust. Up front is a GT2 nose section incorporating GT2 radiators. Remapped, this 996 Turbo is generating 510 hp, making it the least powerful car here today.