Auto enthusiasts have become a bunch of luddites. You heard me. We love to harp on about “the last of the breed”; to lament the passing of ancient, obsolete technologies; to bemoan the technical progression of the industry.
And, okay- I’m not entirely innocent in the matter. I, too, appreciate the feel, feedback, and connection to the road offered by a mechanical steering rack, row-it-yourself gearbox, and an analog connection between my right foot and the throttle body. Yet I, for one, welcome our electronic overlords. My fellow enthusiasts have thrown around terms like “boring” and “civilized” in reference to Stuttgart’s most recent race-derived offering: the Porsche 911 GT2RS. And, I’m here to tell you- we auto enthusiasts need to better appreciate these dino-burning beasts, for what little time we have left together.
In my quest to vindicate the modern supercar, AlphaLuxe kindly blessed me with the opportunity to get behind the wheel of one of the most exciting cars on the road today – the 2019 Porsche 911 GT2RS. Given that my main squeeze is a 991-generation GT3, I was keen to find out what all the fuss was about with this new model.
Could some extra carbon bits, magnesium wheels, and a hair-dryer strapped to the motor really propel this platform into the stratosphere? With dozens of miles of twisty canyon tarmac at our disposal, we had the perfect platform to find out.
So, how have we been led to believe the GT2RS is “boring”? Some of the confusion, I think, is derived from the sheer level of luxury that Porsche has been able to cram into a car that’s capable of blitzing the Nürburgring more quickly than a 918 Spyder. Even we Californians, blessed with some of the world’s greatest driving roads, need to endure a 30-minute highway jaunt to reach the truly twisty stuff. Is it a crime to enjoy a reasonably quiet cabin, drone-free exhaust, and decent sound system along the way? Porsche kindly offers all their GT cars with an optional radio and air conditioning delete. Can you guess how many people have taken them up on the offer? For the 2019 model year GT3RS, it was 2. That’s right, 2 cars out of the ~1500 built for North America. The reality is, these are cars that people use in the real world.
On a brief side note and speaking of the real world, Caitlyn Jenner invited AlphaLuxe to her house to talk and share her passion for her yellow GT2RS. She told us how this is her 3rd RS and 1st GT2RS and prefers this to all the others. She feels it’s a definite keeper.
Now back to the review- there’s absolutely no reason to lament the comfort and daily-drivability of the modern supercar- we’re getting the best of both worlds, and then complaining about it. Having bathed in luxurious comfort on the slow jaunt up the base of Angeles Crest, it was time to finally put the GT2RS through its paces.
As speeds picked up, and dry desert bushes gave way to the towering pines of Angeles National Forest, the GT2RS’s party trick became readily apparent: unmatched compliance. Even the pristine tarmac of this storied road, from behind the wheel of an uncompromising supercar, tends to feel like a rutted minefield of bumps and crevices.
The GT2RS floated over the pavement with such smooth composure, that I thought I had left the car in “comfort” mode. A quick glance at the illuminated “PDK Sport” and PASM switches confirmed otherwise. With effortless poise, the car soaked up every undulation in the pavement, no doubt partially attributable to the minimal unsprung weight of its forged magnesium wheels, offered as part of the optional “Weissach” package.
Genuinely, it felt as if nothing could shake the car from my chosen line. A driver could easily get into trouble in this car, as the confidence-inspiring damping makes the car feel incredibly composed, right up to the adhesion limits of its Michelin Cup 2 rubber.
Another complaint commonly slung toward this most-badass of 911’s is the lack of raucous exhaust noise. While I enjoy the high-strung siren song of the GT3 motor at 9,000 RPM as much as the next petrol-head, this GT2RS is no slouch. Sure, it only revs to 7,500, and it sings a more sultry baritone; but the blend of high-pitched turbine spool, amusing turbo-flutter sound effects, and bassy exhaust rumble make for a deliciously-balanced auditory experience. With an exhaust path choked by a couple turbochargers, it will never be as loud as the GT3. And no, louder isn’t always better (sorry, Harley dudes). Oh, and when those turbos spool up? Hang on for dear life.
The GT2RS pushes you deep into its carbon bucket seats with acceleration reminiscent of the superbikes I regularly pilot. I challenge anyone to sustain a full throttle blast in the GT2RS and not let out a riotous cackle immediately afterward.
With abundant torque from low revs that manages to keep on climbing to redline, and lightning-quick shifts from the PDK gearbox, this car provides just as much entertainment in the longitudinal plane as it does in the lateral.
Missing from most modern turbocharged motors is the “feel” of exponential acceleration as turbo boost approaches its peak. This was the case in the latest Aston Martin Vantage, whose turbocharged AMG unit both sounds and feels positively naturally-aspirated. Still heaps of fun, and not a hint of “lag” to be found. But, the engineers behind the GT2RS apparently set out to maintain that traditional turbo feel; and, in doing so, really brought the car to life. While no sporting driver appreciates the uncertainty imparted by the onset of boost mid-corner, Porsche has managed to harness its twin turbines to introduce that exponential feel in a metered and predictable way, flawlessly balancing the excitement of boost onset, with mid-corner predictability reminiscent of the naturally-aspirated motor in the GT3.
I’m not sure what sort of engineering wizardry goes on behind the doors in Stuttgart to achieve this, but they’ve somehow managed to deliver all the best features of a turbocharged and a naturally-aspirated motor in a single, seductive package.
Prior to my seat time in the GT2RS, I did my best to stave off the plethora of less-then-stellar feedback I had received from acquaintances who had spent time with the car. If I’ve learned one lesson in my time with AlphaLuxe, it’s that the impressions of others rarely tell the true story about a car. In the case of this grand-daddy 911, that proved to be resoundingly true. The reality is, if anyone finds the GT2RS to be “boring”, he or she simply isn’t driving it hard enough. That the car can be construed as “boring” around town is perhaps the greatest testament to the achievements of the Porsche engineers. Push the car beyond six tenths, and it re-writes the rulebook on the logical limits of a road-going vehicle, delivering mind-bending acceleration, unrivaled cornering composure, and heaps of driver confidence.
So, why do we lament the technological progression of our cars? It’s important to celebrate the past- to appreciate the stepping stones that paved the way to this modern era. But, let’s not belittle the grand achievement that is this monster of a 911. Porsche’s engineers have wrangled this rear-engine platform to produce a supercar that can truly do it all. Make a quick run to the grocery store? Check. Take your Grandmother to her weekly card game? Check. Set the Nürburgring production-car lap record? Check. At what other time in automotive history could that be said? We, as auto enthusiasts, need to take a step back and appreciate this golden era of automotive achievement that we’re lucky enough to experience. Soon enough, our hydrocarbon-harnessing lumps of metal will be relics of the past.
One day, I imagine we’ll look back at the GT2RS, and long for the glory days, when gasoline was king. And, we’ll have to face it- cars will continue to get faster, safer, quieter, and more comfortable- simultaneously. We should embrace it, rather than fear it. As long as we’re behind the wheel, the automotive passion will live on. But, don’t get me started on self-driving cars.
VIDEO: AlphaLuxe Drives 2019 Porsche 911 GT2RS (5m 40s)
Counterpoint by Michael Gallardo
wid·ow-mak·er | \ ˈwi-dō-ˌmā-kər
something having the potential to cause sudden loss of life
If you’ve heard the term “widow-maker” used to refer to a car, it was most likely a Porsche 911 with rear-wheel drive and turbocharger. The usual suspects being the 930 turbo, 996 GT2, and the 997 GT2RS, I initially didn’t go into the drive of the 991 GT2RS thinking “widow-maker.” Why not? Well, there’s no reason to think that a car that is compared by many to the mighty McLaren 720s made in today’s world of babysitting safety tech would have any reason to expose your shitty driving. Perhaps I’ve been carried to complacency by all of the other new supercars that I have been in the driver’s seat of, but then again I have driven some pretty raw cars lately as well.
Within the first couple of minutes in the car, I realized that it was the most special feeling car of the current era as well as the most exciting. What took me a little bit longer to realize was that it is in its own way, in fact, a widow-maker. Is it less of a widow-maker than the previous generation P-cars? I’d have to drive them all to tell you. What I will say is that the car is so confidence-inspiring that it seduces you into thinking that you can go set a sub-7 minute lap time at the Nordschleife until you make the mistake of lifting. When you’re driving the car at high speeds, it exposes not only your skill level, but also how big your balls really are. The trick is simply to not lift, and you will probably avoid the dangerous side of the GT2RS. The weight in the rear of the car as well as the aero really forces you to trust the capability of the car.
So then, if the 991 GT2RS isn’t trying to kill you as long as you follow its rules (which happen to be the rules of physics… yeah, crazy concept), then should it still be in the category of the past widow-makers? My answer is yes, simply because it still will send you flying off of a cliff if you don’t respect it and suck at driving. There’s possibly more room for mistakes when compared to the other death traps, but that chance to expose you remains a part of the car’s character. A fun, exhilarating, modern, less dangerous take on the widow-maker: the 2019 Porsche GT2RS.
Counterpoint by Slavik Koch
Twisty Canyon Road-Check, 700hp Twin Turbo 3.8 liter flat six- check, sub 3300lb RWD hooligan-check
I have been a huge Porsche fan ever since I can remember, starting from when I was a young child playing with die-cast cars, to then in my teen years with the infamous 993 turbo wall poster that read “kills bugs fast”. I read and collected all the data I could, about Porsches and its company history, and knew Porsche was the manufacturer for me. While I am not a die-hard purist, I am one who loves nothing more than a raw and visceral driving experience, that of which a sports car is supposed to deliver. I have always believed that in order to achieve this, you needed an older, lighter 911 with a proper manual gearbox.
I can honestly say I was extremely surprised and impressed by the driving dynamics and characteristics of the PDK gearbox in 991 GT2RS. Having a lot of seat time in a RUF modified 996 GT2 as well as my current modified 997.1 Turbo, I was not expecting this variant of the GT2 to be reminiscent of the 996 GT2 in any way. I am glad to say I had a wrong impression and understanding of this car. This is far from the numb and hallow feeling that a lot of the modern sportscars have been known for in order to be more daily driver friendly and road compliant. The suspension is firm when necessary, yet compliant. And those that know how rear engine rear wheel drive cars drive dynamically will greatly appreciate the ease this car can be switched from understeer to oversteer.
This car delivers a driver inspiring experience, that even when at the limits of the car’s immense mechanical grip, it is very controllable and confidence uplifting. Sure, gone are the days where this car is known as a “widow maker” but that doesn’t make it any less exciting to drive. In fact, this only adds to the excitement. Don’t get me wrong – the car has plenty of bite with its 700hp and 553lb ft of tq available from 2500RPM which allows for the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires to break loose with ease even with a 325mm tire stuffed in the rear.
One thing to note is how big these cars are really becoming – the wheelbase is a solid 4” longer, the car itself is over 3” longer, and 1” wider when compared to its predecessor. While you cannot feel that size difference inside the car, largely due to the 4 wheel steering, you can certainly tell the difference on the outside as the 991 generation has become a bit of a porker proportionally.
The GT2RS absolutely ate up any and all canyon turns, sweepers, and hairpins that I threw at it with both precision and ease, all while providing a rather brute exhaust note I did not expect to hear from a forced induction motor. This one on a Weissach package car sure did not disappoint, especially when the noise is bouncing off a canyon wall.
This car truly does it all and does it all well, and it’s no wonder this GT2RS is over 10 seconds faster around the Nürburgring than the Weissach 918 Spyder. The 991 GT2RS is everything it’s supposed to be; so if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up!
Author’s Biography: KevinB
KevinB is a 29-year-old auto enthusiast – a Mechanical Design Engineer by day, and serial side-hustler by night. By age 4, he could spout the make and model of any passing vehicle, and by 12 he was an expert in the inner-workings of the internal combustion engine. His love for all things motoring expanded into the two-wheeled world at age 17. He currently owns a 2014 Porsche 911 GT3, and a 2018 Ducati Panigale V4, and has somehow managed to retain his driver’s license.