The 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 is the most powerful (530 horsepower) and fastest (204 mph) 911 ever. With a sticker of $191,700, it's also the priciest. Porsche will build only 1500 GT2's, and just 200 are headed stateside beginning in February 2008.
Likely the last iteration of the current "997" 911 lineup, the GT2 fleshes out the revamp begun in 2005 with the latest 911 Carrera and Carrera S coupes. These were followed by the Cabriolets (convertibles, aka "Cabs"), the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 and 4S, the 4/4S Cabs, the 911 Turbo, the sliding-glass-roofed Targa 4 and 4S (hold on, we're almost there...), the race-bred GT3 and GT3 RS, and the Turbo Cab.
A purist's delight, an over-simplified description of the GT2 is a rear-wheel-drive 911 Turbo. Though lacking the Turbo's all-wheel-drive system, the GT2 draws from a number of 911 models to create one of the world's most stunning every-day supercars. We recently had a chance to drive the new GT2 (with a 911 Turbo on hand for comparison), at the famed Daytona International Speedway.
Sweet Parts Bin
The GT2 chassis is an amalgam of the Carrera 4's body structure and the outer shell of a 911 Turbo. The suspension has been lowered an inch compared to the standard 911, spring rates are stiffer all around, the rear suspension/driveline gets beefed up, and several of its bushings are now metal instead of rubber.
The mildly flamboyant rear wing is fixed, and features ram-air intakes for the rear-mounted engine. In combination with the deeper and hood-vented front air dam, these aero tweaks are said to produce "significant increases in front and rear downforce."
The GT2 uses a modified version of the 911 Turbo's 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged horizontally opposed ("Boxer") 6-cylinder engine. For duty in the GT2, a unique "expansion-charge" intake manifold has been created for this force-fed engine. Combined with more boost (20 psi vs. the Turbo's 14.5 psi), the GT2 mill delivers its 530 horsepower peak at 6500 rpm, flanked by a 505 lb-ft torque plateau from 2200-4500 rpm. A 6-speed manual is the only transmission option.
Corralling all that juice is a first for a GT2 model: Porsche's active suspension setup (PASM), and stability control system (PSM) are both standard. PSM has two aspects (stability control and traction control) which can be sequentially defeated - just make sure you have your (likely ample) finances in order before turning off both completely. There's little incentive to do so, since PSM allows so much leeway before intervention that on the street most owners will never even notice these potentially priceless safety nets.
As in the GT3, the GT2's interior gets suede-like Alcantara trim, and the back seat is history. The interior highlight is new standard sport bucket seats. Essentially lightweight racing shells for the street, the carbon-fiber-trimmed perches both recline and flop forward, feature manual fore-aft adjustment, and include a side (thorax) airbag module to complement the standard side-curtain airbags. For those whose wealth includes girth, the sybaritic Adaptive Sport leather seats are a no-cost option.
With a surprisingly thrifty 16/23 (city/hwy) EPA mpg rating, the GT2 betters in efficiency such plebeian conveyances as the Honda Pilot (16/22), avoiding the gas-guzzler tax in the process. The stunning (and organ-shifting) Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) are standard, as are unique 19-inch wheels sporting steamroller-width 325/30 Michelin rubber out back.
Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
So how does all this work? Brilliantly. Unlike the sometimes detached, along-for-a-blindingly-fast-ride feeling you can get in the Turbo, the GT2 feels more of a piece, more tactile, and more connected to the pavement. It also provides crisper feedback through the wheel - sensations which may be muted by the otherwise transparent all-wheel-drive system in the Turbo.
Throttle response is more immediate than in the Turbo, with almost no sense of turbo lag. The GT2's tauter chassis seems more natural in a car with this much power, and its suspension better planted yet suppler at the same time. With steering directly wired into precise responses, the GT2 sliced through Daytona's infield road course exhibiting sharp turn-in response and truly prodigious amounts of mechanical grip.
Unleashed on Daytona's high-banking, the GT2 lunged forward on concussive bolts of thrust, drawn from what felt like an endless skein of acceleration. As if rushing along the inner circumference of a tire, the banked tarmac unreeled from the headliner while the two turbos whistled chilling harmonics in a Le Mans-inspired wail. Front-end stability at ludicrous speeds felt superior to the Turbo's, and as the car hammered off the banking towards Daytona's start/finish line it was still pulling hard at 165 mph.
Every-Day Supercar, Everyday Drivability
The GT2 has made a giant leap forward in civility and everyday drivability, thanks to its new seat options and the inclusion of electronic safety-nets - a boon for more-money-than-brains bloodlines. For those who live to drive (and if it doesn't snow where you live), this is the turbocharged 911 of choice. For true enthusiasts, the GT2 may be the most satisfying version in the iconic lineup, and the finest 911 ever.
A former editor at Cycle World and Sportbike, Paul Seredynski has also handled media relations for Kawasaki's World Superbike team and Porsche Cars North America.