One hundred and ninety-three grand. That's what a 530-hp Porsche 911 GT2 costs. Even if you were born on top of a pile of diamond-encrusted Krugerrands and wore solid-gold booties to your baptism, this is not an insignificant amount of money. Many things can be bought for less cash. Things like college degrees. And houses. Heck, if you're south of the border and feeling saucy, you could probably even snag yourself a whole freakin' Mexican village.
Nevertheless, the GT2 is no ordinary 911, and its price reflects that fact. Your pueblo-sized check buys you a 204-mph, runs-on-pump-gas, Deutschland- über-alles track star, but it also buys you a docile, civilized road machine. Faced with the depth and breadth of the 911 GT2's talents, other cars cower on the sidelines. For the king Porsche, versatility rules the day.
Still, we're indefatigable troublemakers, and because of that, we couldn't help but wonder: Fantastic though it may be, is adaptability really of benefit in a pursuit where lap times are the prime measuring stick? If you traded some of the GT2's all-round usability for a lower price tag and a few more on-road compromises, could you be just as happy? And if you want a turnkey, manufacturer-developed track beast, does more cash automatically equal more speed?
In our search for truth, we introduced the 911 GT2 to the 600-hp Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR and the 175-hp Mazda MX-5 Cup. These three cars are some of the most well-known factory track rats on the market, but there's more to this gathering than simple name recognition. These three also represent the three universal approaches to apex hunting: refined European traditionalism; rough-edged American sledgehammering; and efficient Japanese minimalism. Looking for answers, we trekked to Spring Mountain Country Club in Pahrump, Nevada, for a day's worth of hot-lapping, and we hit the long, wide desert in search of real-world speed. The lessons we learned - and the lap times we logged - were more than a little surprising.