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View Poll Results: Which is the ultimate 911 (997)?
GT2 33 50.77%
GT3 17 26.15%
Turbo 11 16.92%
Other 4 6.15%
Voters: 65. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-14-2007, 12:20 PM   #1
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Default Top Gear: 911 (997) GT2 vs GT3 vs Turbo



Blood Pressure
So I'm doing a fast lap in a Ferrari 599," says Walter Rohrl. "We had one in for benchmarking purposes. I saw a car up ahead and thought I'd catch him. As I got closer, I could see it was another 599. He was oversteering, and then he ran wide into Galgenkopf, and I passed him.

"Anyway, as I was cooling down, this other 599 pulled level with me, the window went down, and the driver said, 'You bastard! You beat me round here in a Ferrari!' It was Michael Schumacher..."

Rohrl unfolds his almost comically long arms and laughs. No doubt about it, he is the reigning king of the 'Ring. For the record, he did a 7m 59s in the 599. Which is effing quick. But Porsche's chief test driver is not here today to talk Ferrari.

Today is about the new GT2, the most powerful road-going 911 ever. It has 523bhp, 501lb ft of torque, accelerates from 0-62mph in 3.7secs, to 100mph in 7.4, and tops out at 204mph, the first 911 to pass 200mph. It costs £131,070, and Porsche reckons the GT2 is the most highly evolved 911 yet. Walter drove it round the Nordschleife in 7m 32s.

"I passed 11 cars while I set that time," he says, folding his arms again.
Rohrl, as anyone who's had the privilege of sitting beside him in a car will attest, is a bit special. With robotic precision and zero apparent effort, he makes cars go enormously fast. But he's also utterly devoid of vanity, he just gets on with the job. There's a lesson there for all of us.

The 911's a bit like that too. BMW's marketing wonks may have coined the line, but here surely is the ultimate driving 'machine'. Forty-odd years since it arrived, and 20 since yuppie adulation nearly finished it off, the 911 fetches up at the arse end of 2007 as the best performance car in the world. (Over to you interweb bloggers...)

The trickier question is, which one? The Carrera S is lovely, and pretty good value too, but not quite special enough. Turbo cabriolet? Call the taste police someone, please. So really it's between the Turbo, the GT3 and now the GT2. The newest addition is rear-wheel drive and is twin-turbocharged, but is it a more interactive Turbo or simply a wildly powerful GT3? As we're about to discover, the differences between them are more profound than you might imagine.

For a road car, the GT2 is astonishing. Porsche and Ferrari are currently locked in a battle for engineering supremacy, but this car - and the 430 Scuderia - confirm that the goalposts have now been moved so far, you need a telescope to see them. It uses the same bodyshell and 3.6-litre horizontally opposed engine as the Turbo, but beyond that, the detail gets very detailed indeed.

Most of the effort has gone on optimising the turbocharging tech. Anyone who's experienced the regular Turbo's response - it's like being kicked in the back by the world's angriest donkey - will wonder what could possibly be improved. Lots, apparently. As before, there's a pair of turbochargers but there's a bigger compressor wheel, and re-profiled rotor blades improve air flow to the turbine.

Look closely at the base of the GT2's artful rear wing, and you'll notice two ram charge air intakes that force more air in at a higher pressure. The turbos operate at a maximum charge pressure of 1.4bar, 0.4 more than the existing Turbo.

Then there's the new intake system, which uses cooler expanding air rather than hotter compressed air to ignite the fuel-air mixture, which optimises the process (Porsche claims this is a world first).

Under-pressure, over-pressure, resonance, oscillation... it's all going on in here, but the upshot of this mechanical voodoo is 523bhp at 6,500rpm, 501lb ft of torque delivered consistently between 2,200 and 4,500rpm (the regular Turbo with the optional Sports Chrono fitted delivers 501lb ft but only on Knight Rider-style temporary over-boost), as well as improved efficiency and fuel economy - a combined average of 22.6mpg.

This fancy intake set-up is matched by an equally impressive exhaust system: the silencer and pipes are made of titanium. Why? Because it's more durable, allows for better heat dissipation, and is 50 per cent lighter than stainless steel.

The GT2 uses dry sump lubrication, and there's a limited slip diff offering moderate lock-up, given that traction - even in a 911 this powerful - isn't likely to be a problem. In the dry, at least.

At 1,440kg, it's 145kg lighter overall than the Turbo, largely due to the removal of the front drive-train, an aluminium rear sub-frame, and the standard fitment of Porsche's ceramic brakes. There are also carbon-fibre race seats.

There are lots of subtle bodywork refinements. The front spoiler is unique to the GT2, funnelling air to three radiators, and there's even an extra cooler for the gearbox oil. The intakes in the rear wheel arches keep the intercoolers happy, while the new slats around the rear end help dissipate heat from the engine and exhaust.

Experts in aero- and thermodynamics would have a field day with this car; suffice to say that the drag coefficient has been reduced to 0.32, and Porsche makes big claims for the amount of downforce generated on the front and rear axles. A 200mph Porsche with a wandering front end would be as much use as a chocolate sunbed, after all.

In the arcane world of the 911 fancier, the GT2 is known as the 'Widowmaker'. Even the presence of a world-class stability system - more of which later - can't dispel the mythology that clings to this thing. Though it's fairly standard 997 inside (Alcantara trim, body-colour seatbelts, no rear seats), the 997-era GT2 still inspires shock and awe. Twin turbos, rear drive, 523bhp, semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cups... the words leave little vapour trails as they whoosh around your brain.

And that's not all. Before you get into something this potent, on tyres this uncompromising, you find yourself watching the skies for brooding cloud formations, like some sort of medieval soothsayer. The bottom line is, I'm nervous.

But as our convoy bumbles its way out of the car park, the jitters evaporate. The previous GT2 would tramline on a glass-topped billiard table, but the new one is incredibly well-behaved. Porsche's active damping system has been re-calibrated for extra firmness in 'normal' mode - but over the sort of ridges that would have bounced its predecessor into a field, the new car is compliant and easy to manage.

Given the forces at work, the controls are also a doddle to use. The clutch is easy, the brakes nicely modulated, the gearshift demanding but not difficult. The GT2's final drive ratio is the same as the Turbo's and GT3's, and the three contenders quickly settle into a relaxed lope through the countryside. So much for the 'widowmaker'...

Then I get bored, drop it into second gear and nail the throttle. Good God. Keep it nailed and two things are immediately apparent: the GT2 will outpace your brain's ability to keep up with it, and you seem to be absolutely monstering your way through the gearbox.

Second and third, in particular, don't appear to last very long at all, a suspicion that's not helped by the little upshift indicator in the rev counter which strobes awayas manically as a light in a Seventies Manhattan disco. Of course, it's a subjective impression: the truth is, this thing is just very fast indeed.

The regular Turbo will tackle corners at a speed that defies belief. It's so good, so competent, that it's almost a bit boring. Boredom is not an emotion you will even vaguely encounter in the GT2 when you reach a corner. Like its less incendiary brothers, it now has Porsche's stability management system, which monitors vertical and lateral loads, traction, and brake force distribution.

On this car, you are invited to disable it in three stages, but it's so well calibrated, you'd have to be nuts to drive without it on the road. Even in damp conditions, the GT2 is obscenely good. Perhaps too intimidating for any adjustability, but who adjusts a 523bhp 911?

Conclusion? This is the classic 911 experience on fast forward: ultra-high performance, Herculean traction out of corners, immense brakes. It's a supreme engineering achievement: it's Carrera GT fast but much better behaved. It should be The One.

But it isn't. The GT3 is. And it's fantastically instructive to drive them side-by-side. No kidding, 20 seconds in the cheaper, less powerful car is all it takes to convince. After 30 minutes, it starts getting sort of spiritual. The GT3 is very special indeed.

On this unfamiliar road, the GT3 is so good it's slightly spooky; brake, steer, change gear, accelerate - it breaks the process down into such clear, simple but devastatingly effective chunks that it's almost easy. Like Hendrix on the guitar or Miles Davis on the horn, there's an instinctive genius at work here.

On which musical note, it also sounds much better than the GT2 or Turbo. Forced induction is fun in a whooshy sort of way, and few things whoosh like a GT2. But the normally aspirated GT3 revs from 4,000rpm to a Wagnerian climax.

It's also more linear. Despite all of Porsche's best efforts, the GT2 still suffers from some lag. Not much, admittedly, but you have to time your inputs carefully nonetheless. The GT3 just goes, gives you exactly the right amount to work with and against. Assuming you buy into the basic 911 credo - the propulsive rear end, the absence of weight at the front - then this is the best. OK, it's not as fast as the GT2, but 60mph in 4.3secs and 192mph all-out is the sort of not-as-fast you can live with.

So, does that leave the Turbo somewhere in between, the perfect solution? As the everyday proposition it was designed to be, yes. Its wet- weather pace is extraordinary, and it has more grip than you will know what to do with. As an exercise in technical brilliance, it's difficult to fault. But you have to drive it like an absolute lunatic to really feel it, and no matter how fast you go round a corner or how late you brake, it'll cope. It's almost inhuman but, yes, probably the ultimate driving 'machine'.

The ultimate 911, on the other hand, is the one that remembers to put the driver centre-stage. And it's the GT3.

^ Power isn't everything then

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Old 12-14-2007, 12:58 PM   #2
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Yes I have to agree with that article, the sound of the GT3 is beautiful and its prettier than the GT2, of course the GT2 is a masterpiece, its almost as perfect as the Carrera GT, but the RS seems to be more of a drivers car, a simple NA lightweight beautiful fast Porsche, thats all you need...

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Old 12-14-2007, 01:51 PM   #3
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^ Without having read the article, I agree with fabro_s.
Most definately the GT3 for me, preferably in RS form. No doubt about that!

Just listen and watch this thing go!

(rest of the vid can be found in downloadable form in the vault)
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Old 12-14-2007, 04:09 PM   #4
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997TT for daily driver, GT3RS for track
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Old 12-14-2007, 05:38 PM   #5
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^ Doesn't count, you have to pick just one
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Old 12-14-2007, 05:53 PM   #6
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Thanks for this article, an interesting read ... when I will have time
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Old 12-14-2007, 05:54 PM   #7
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the GT2 is so much GT3 with a GT2 engine now more then ever. Particularly with that stupid fast NS time.

That, and punching the gas is so much more rewarding in the GT2
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Old 12-17-2007, 07:12 AM   #8
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ah a great article thanks for posting. i chose the GT3 it somehow just does it more for me than the GT2
"Some say that the outline of his left nipple is exactly the same shape as the Nürburgring, and that if you give him a really important job to do, he'll skive off and play croquet... all we know is, he's called the Stig."

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Old 02-24-2008, 02:41 AM   #9
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definitely Gt3 for me, but it has to be RS Orange & Black wheels, nothing looks more fantastic in that color except the LP640, which looks better in Orange than any other car ever made, lol.
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Old 03-04-2008, 07:20 PM   #10
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I absolutely loveeee the GT2. Its perfect. 200k damn.
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Old 03-04-2008, 07:50 PM   #11
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GT2 is my choice.
Check out my photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/am1988/:-)
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Old 03-06-2008, 12:47 PM   #12
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The most ultimate 911 is GT2, 530bhb and only rear-whell drive is brutal combination. But I choose GT3 it´s more driver friendly.
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Old 03-06-2008, 02:48 PM   #13
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Default Ultimate 911?

Sell your house, wife, kids and get this one!!!

911 GT3 RSR for me! In black please! Infinitely in love with this thing! Just need to get rid of those restrictors...
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