On a couple of occasions, we managed to push the 3600-cc boxer engine right up to the redline in fifth, shifted into sixth gear at 160 mph sharp, relished the awesome urge when the two turbos kicked in again, and watched the digital boost pressure readout jump back to the 14.5-pounds-per-square-inch maximum. Between 0 and 80 mph, there is hardly any difference between the Turbo and the GT2. But, as the engine and road speeds in-crease, the rear-wheel-drive car enters a class of its own. From 0 to 125 mph, for instance, the GT2 is a staggering three seconds faster than the Turbo, needing just 12.9 seconds to get there. From 0 to 100 mph, the GT2 will run with a Ferrari F40 or F50(!).
Like the over-the-top 911 GT1, the GT2 flat-six uses a lightweight split crankcase, high-strength Nikasil-coated pistons, and dry-sump lubrication. Like the 911 Turbo, it features VarioCam Plus, which is Porsche-speak for variable intake valve lift and timing. On paper, both Turbos average an identical 18.2 mpg. In real life, however, our GT2 returned a less impressive 13.0 mpg--and that was without really trying.
Despite a monstrous rear wing and a low-riding front air dam, the drag coefficient of the GT2 has increased to 0.34 from the Turbo's 0.31. This increase results mainly from the bigger air intakes that channel more air to the brakes and to no fewer than three radiators and two intercoolers. The key aerodynamic improvement over lesser 911s is the larger center intake that guides air through the main radiator before sending it through a full-width duct to vents between the nose cone and hood. This substantially increases front-end downforce and, at the same time, reduces the amount of air that passes between the road and the floorpan by an impressive 60 percent. The ground-effects front end pays off at speeds of 80 mph and above, tying the nose down in a thoroughly convincing manner.
Unlike the Spartan GT3, the 3175-pound GT2 is kitted out with air conditioning, full leather trim, a CD stereo, power windows and door locks, and driver and passenger front and side air bags. To save weight, the rear seats have been replaced by an uneven but carpeted shelf that occasionally acts as an on-board echo chamber. The spare tire is also conspicuous by its absence, the trunk accommodates a token 3.9 cubic feet, and the fuel tank of the U.S. version can swallow only 16.9 gallons. Priced at $179,900, the GT2 is not a limited-edition special. If the demand justifies it, Porsche can build up to 900 units a year until the end of 2005, when the 911 Turbo will be discontinued.
There are some pretty rational arguments against the GT2. For the same money, for instance, you could get a Carrera 2 and a Turbo. Plus, the GT2 is really too demanding to use as an everyday car. I actually prefer the now superseded naturally aspirated GT3, but perhaps I'm getting old. On the other hand, there is nothing as satisfying as getting it right in a car as raw and visceral as the GT2. And when you sit down and look at the numbers, this car's performance is right up there with the hyper-expensive supercars of the Nineties such as the Ferrari F50 and the Jaguar XJ220. Since it's so much more wieldy and usable than those machines, maybe it's not so irrational after all.