First Drive Twofer: Porsche 911 GT2 RS and BMW M3 GTS

Greg Pajo

Feeling and looking like a drenched wharf rat when the planet backed us into 93-degree humid heat well before noon, I had calmed down somewhat, because this obviously was no nasty beast as long as one drove it within the limits of adhesion. Which are high enough to eliminate 99 percent of competitors by simply outcornering and outaccelerating them. In the latest Swabian batmobile, 0 to 60 mph is an impressively swift 3.4-second affair. But to experience the real steamhammer effect, you need to leave the takeoff wheel spin behind you. After all, this hyperactive two-seater needs a mere 9.8 seconds to roar from naught to 125 mph, and a mere 20 seconds later you may tick the top-speed box. That's what 620 hp will do for you when it's installed in a car that weighs only 3020 pounds. This data might look invincible -- but the four-wheel-drive Turbo S nonetheless wins the sprint duel by 0.3 second, is only 9 mph less rapid overall, and costs a cool $85K less.

After half a day and many miles, the car and its driver have finally adjusted to each other. Lobster-faced and drinking water at a rate that almost matches the Porsche's thirst (about 14 mpg), I am now ready to find out whether the new GT2 is as unfriendly and unforgiving as its predecessor. Beating that model on the 'Ring by a full fourteen seconds should have been plenty of warning, but in an overly optimistic mood swing, I turned off stability control. Nah. I'll also deactivate traction control and see what happens. Let's check out whether these reflexes still work. The first run through a glassy-surfaced second-gear left-hander is spot-on. A bit of smoke, a nice slide, everything under control -- bingo. But the second run puts the alarm systems inside my brain on alert. The car understeers more emphatically, it takes a more determined effort to make the hot and grippy rear tires come unstuck, and the wide road suddenly narrows at the exit of the corner. You can guess the rest of the story: even more understeer, the slide commences even later, Monsieur Michelin's finest kiss the soft shoulder, and the car spins, which makes my heart rate go through the nonexistent sunroof.

What happened? When we stop for more water, I take a closer look at this 911's spec sheet. It reveals a maximum boost pressure of 23.2 psi, twice as much as Porsche quotes for the Turbo, along with 516 lb-ft of torque at 2250 rpm. Not to mention the 620 hp that the 3.6-liter engine dishes up at 6500 rpm. Compared with the Turbo and the previous GT2, the new model clearly needs higher revs to produce more oomph. As a result, it's an even sharper weapon, more black and white than a spectrum of grays, tuned for peak performance rather than friendliness. Second attempt, this time with a little more feeling. Stability control off; traction control on. An odd mixture -- almost every other manufacturer does it the other way around. Having said that, the setting generates a little more attitude, because it sedates the watchdog that oversees the transverse and diagonal forces. This time, I don't spin.

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