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Car reviews - Porsche - 911 - GT2 Coupe

Launch Story

Porsche logo28 Mar 2008

By GEORGIA OCONNELL

THE first two examples of the latest iteration of Porsche's most serious road car ever, the 997-series GT2, have arrived in Australia.

The fact that, at $425,700 (almost $10,000 more than Ferrari's entry-level F430 coupe), it costs about $25,000 more than its 996-series predecessor has not deterred some 31 well-heeled Porsche customers from putting down sizeable deposits for the most formidable road-going 911 coupe ever.

In fact, with total worldwide production of about 700 GT2s ending in December and Australia representing just 1.5 per cent of the world market in terms of population, Porsche Cars Australia's allocation of up to 40 examples maintains our reputation as one of the most enthusiastic Porsche nations globally. The previous GT2 found 27 homes here.

Both cars were on hand for this week's media and customer launch event at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway, with one belonging to PCA for use at its new "Test drive of your life" program and the other owned by Targa Tasmania legend Jim Richards, who will give the GT2 its local competition debut at next month's annual tarmac rally on the Apple Isle.

Described more accurately as a turbocharged version of the sold-out (rear-drive, naturally-aspirated) 911 GT3 than a rear-drive version of the (AWD) 911 Turbo, and likely to be the final 997-generation variant to appear before a redesigned 911 appears, the GT2 is based on the wider body of the all-wheel drive 911 Carrera 4 and 911 Turbo flagship.

But, just as it is draped in an even wilder bodykit and running gear than the AWD Turbo (priced from $334,400), the rear-drive GT2 is also powered by an even more highly developed version of the top-shelf 911's 3.6-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six engine.

The third-generation GT2 (just three examples of the 993-series 911 version came to Australia, with help from Porsche's race department in Wiessach) offers the same peak torque as the 911 Turbo with optional Sports Chrono Plus package – a bruising 640Nm between 2200 and 4500rpm.

However, maximum power is up from 353kW to a fearsome 390kW at 6500rpm – eclipsing the 996 GT2's 340kW effort and equating to a ballistic specific power output of 108.3kW per litre.

A larger compressor and turbo housing are behind the extra urge, which comes as a result of a more relaxed, higher-volume air/fuel charge being delivered to the six horizontally opposed cylinders, despite 1.4 bar of maximum boost pressure now available – 0.4 bar more than the standard 911 Turbo and 0.2 bar more than those fitted with the Sports Chrono Plus overboost function.

Apart from the more efficient ignition system and 30 per cent lighter titanium exhaust system, the six-speed manual-only GT2 engine features the same variable-turbine geometry technology and the same dry sump lubrication with nine oil pumps as the 911 Turbo.

Combined average fuel consumption rises slightly to a still-respectable 12.5L/100km, as do C02 emissions, to 298g/km.

However, transmission upgrades include taller internal gear ratios (despite a higher 327km/h top speed, the GT2 still sprints to 100km/h in a sizzling 3.7 seconds), wider and stronger internal transmission cogs, a dual-mass flywheel, 22 per cent shorter gearshift travel and a mechanical limited-slip rear differential with 28 per cent locking action under power and 40 per cent in overrun. The clutch servo motor has been deleted, as has the AC fan.

Similarly, the GT2 takes on a beefed-up Turbo look, headlined by a massive (but 36 per cent lighter fibreglass) gurney-style rear spoiler above the extra-wide rear wheelarches and also comprising larger side air intakes, rear three-quarter bumper gills, unique side skirts, twin titanium exhaust outlets and a redesigned front bumper featuring an air outlet at the top, an unpainted lower chin and three large air inlets at the front instead of the Turbo's foglights.

The previous 996 GT2 was the first production Porsche to offer front and rear wheel downforce and the 997 model continues the tradition.

Also continuing the theme established by the previous GT2's highly adjustable chassis, the new model is also easily adjustable for wheel camber and track.

It again comes standard with Porsche ceramic composite brake discs, now measuring 380x34mm up front, 350x28mm at rear – all four of which are vented and cross-drilled – gripped by six-piston monobloc front and four-piston monobloc rear calipers.

The switchable Porsche Stability Management traction/stability control system is fitted standard, and the ABS still works with it deactivated.

Tyre pressure monitoring is also standard.

Weighing in around 100km lighter than the AWD Turbo, the rear-drive GT2's unladen DIN weight is 1440kg, thanks in part to a 6kg-lighter aluminium front lid and an alloy front cross-member.

Compared to the standard 911 Carrera 2, the C4-based GT2 is said to be eight per cent more torsionally rigid and some 40 per cent stiffer flexionally.

Aerodynamic drag co-efficient is 0.32Cd – down from 0.34 on the old GT2.

The GT2 rides 25mm lower than the standard 911 Carrera and slightly higher than the GT3, which has 305mm-wide rear tyres. Up from 18-inch items on the previous GT2, the new model rolls on massive 19x12-inch alloys at the rear, shod with super-wide 325/30-section tyres, and 19x8.5-inch front wheels wrapped in 235/35-section rubber.

Supporting them are optimised MacPherson strut front and five-link rear suspension systems, with Porsche Active Suspension Management fitted for the first time to a GT2.

Inside, the minimalist GT3 RS-style cabin is dominated by a pair of new two-piece sports bucket seats with integrated head restraints, made from fibreglass and exposed carbon-fibre.

There are six airbags, including head/thorax airbags, unique GT2 instruments and a 5.8-inch colour screen. The Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel is from the GT3, but fake suede is also employed for the GT2's headlining, centre console, door handles, armrests, gearshifter and handbrake.

A relatively commodious 105 litres of luggage space remains up front.

Providing further differentiation from the 911 Turbo flagship, in addition to its lower centre of gravity, larger and wider footprint, lighter weight, increased power, standard ceramic brakes and full suite of driver safety aids, the GT2 also offers a BMW M-style launch control system for the first time in a manual production Porsche.

Dubbed Launch Assistant, it is activated simply by pushing both the clutch and accelerator pedals to the floor, at which point the engine revs to 5000rpm in readiness for blisteringly efficient take-offs.

Befitting its intended role as a track specialist, the new GT2 again comes with the no-cost option of a GT3-style ClubSport Package, which comprises a rear roll cage, a red six-point driver's safety harness, fire extinguisher, main battery switch preparation and flame-resistant seat trim instead of the standard leather/Alcantara facings.

Proving its mantle as the most ferocious road-registrable 911 ever, the GT2 is claimed to have matched the million-dollar, left-hand drive-only and now-discontinued Carrera GT supercar's long-standing lap record at Germany's famed Nurburgring north circuit.

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