To escape traffic, we headed for the Black Forest, which is renowned for its great driving roads. When we got there, we found plenty of empty space--but also some black ice and light snow later in the day. We were looking for warm tarmac and hot tires. With 456 horsepower at our disposal, it wasn't hard to breathe fire into the state-of-the-art Pirelli P Zero Rossos, but the car's handling ranged from benign to venomous. The Rosso is the latest iteration of the famous asymmetrical Italian high-performance tire. It offers creamier breakaway characteristics, better hydroplaning behavior, and a more compliant ride. Porsche chose 235/40ZR-18 tires for the front and 315/30ZR-18s in the back. This arrangement combines super-glue roadholding with superbad hunting on substandard surfaces, especially under braking. On smooth roads, however, the directional stability is exceptional for a car with a 38/62 percent front/rear weight distribution.
To move the center of gravity even closer to the ground, the engineers lowered the suspension of the GT2 by three-quarters of an inch. But with yours truly, the photographer, and all the camera gear on board, the center of gravity actually hit the road hard whenever the surface got bumpy and when the car stretched its legs in the wake of a brow or a humpback bridge. But then, this 911 doubles as a weekend racer; the suspension allows one to adjust the camber in front and the ride height, camber, and castor in the rear, in case you want to use slicks. The suspension was, by and large, taken over from the GT3, but the spring and damper rates are even tauter. Porsche has used zero-compliance uniball joints in place of some rubber bushings. Through high-speed autobahn esses, this rock-hard and rock-solid setup is great, but on secondary roads, the front end pitches too much. Particularly through fast, undulating corners, the nose of the car tap-dances like Fred Astaire, and even a tight grip on the steering wheel cannot overcome unwanted sidesteps. "You must trust the GT2," says Kristen. "Maintaining the chosen line can be hard work, but in the end the car will always deliver and pull through."
Like the tires, the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) are at their best when they have reached their working temperature. Drilled, ventilated, and larger in diameter than the iron rotors of the 911 Turbo, the ceramic discs are straddled by powerful six-piston calipers in the front and by four-piston calipers in the back. Fed by large cooling ducts, these brakes respond more quickly (especially in the wet), are virtually immune to fade, and are 50 percent lighter, totally corrosion-resistant, and, allegedly, almost indestructible. Thanks to a 25 percent higher coefficient of friction, the initial bite is so tenacious that you have to tighten your neck muscles when you engage the center pedal. From 190 to 0 mph, PCCB reduces the stopping distance by 29.5 feet, or about two car lengths.