2009 Nissan GT-R vs 2009 Porsche 911 GT2 - At the 'Ring

Chris Harris
Kenny P

There came a point when the diminishing time forced me to go have a look at the track. After all, it's bad enough to return with no story and no usable lap times, but it would have been morally reprehensible to admit that not a single lap had been completed.

So, into the spray and gloom went the 530-hp GT2, wearing Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires with less than two-tenths of an inch of tread depth remaining. That first lap was very much a wash. The full wet line at the Nordschleife, like any circuit, bears little resemblance to its dry relative; you simply have to carve a route around the outside of every turn. This finds you far more grip than you'd think, but it reduces the margin for error and reminds you how little runoff there is at the 'Ring. Under these conditions, a rear-wheel-drive turbocharged Porsche wearing such extreme rubber should be terrifying. And it's fair to say that, once it's rolling, the GT2 feels extremely lively. For starters, you can't lean on the traction control the way you can in, say, a BMW M3 or a 911 GT3. Exiting the Hatzenbach in third gear with a small amount of steering angle applied, the car will snap into an oversteer slide big enough to require almost a whole turn of lock to correct, even though the yellow light has been blinking furiously for some time. In other words, the electronics alone won't keep you safe.

This is not a car you grab by the scruff of the neck and bully, especially in the wet. At various parts of the circuit, it attempts to spin its wheels in third, fourth, and - much to fellow drivers' amusement and in some cases consternation - even fifth gear at speeds over 150 mph. But it has so much torque you can leave it in a higher gear than expected, freeing up valuable space in your brain for computing throttle and steering inputs. And even if the flashing yellow light on the dash serves mostly as a warning that you could end up buried in the rail at any minute, the traction control is also very useful. Compared with the old 996-series 911 GT2, there is a safety window of sorts. Accordingly, three laps in, the GT2 is making very respectable progress, and it isn't wreaking havoc with my nerves. The terrible understeer-then-snap-oversteer of its predecessor is gone, and even though the quieter torque delivery of a normally aspirated engine would be welcomed by most drivers' nerves, I doubt I'd be any quicker in a GT3. And I didn't expect that.

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