What is it?
The latest episode in Porsche’s turbo-nutter-911 saga: The Widowmaker, part III. Predictably, it follows part I (993 GT2: wonderful) and part II (996 GT2: not so wonderful). It also follows the same basic recipe as before –take a 911 Turbo, remove the front driveshafts and some kerbweight, then poke the motor until it produces some more shocking numbers. That means 523bhp, 501lb ft of torque, 0-100mph in 7.4sec (gulp) and 204mph.
What’s it like?
Silly fast. I was initially annoyed that Porsche had seen fit to leave the Turbo’s short gear ratios unchanged in a car with the potential for greater acceleration. Then I realised that the gearing was, in fact, longer; it’s just that the thing is so damn fast you seemingly have to change gear more often than in the Turbo.
Ignore the photos too: in the flesh and especially in the rear view mirror this car has presence to spare. The front and rear bumpers are new, the latter housing a titanium exhaust, and there are a couple of very 935-esque inlet snorkels hidden on the rear wing. There are all sorts of drag and aero claims, none of which I can verify other than to say that it doesn’t take off on unrestricted German autobahn at 180mph.
Anyone worried that Porsche has gone soft by fitting traction and stability control to this car either has testosterone issues or forgets that the 996 version had heaps of understeer applied to the chassis just to stop people falling off the road. Now the electronics can handle that particular job, the car handles far better.
The aim was to create a car that felt like a turbocharged GT3, and in most respects it does just that. The steering feels very similar (even if that wider rear track makes it respond differently) and the ride comfort on the soft damper setting is excellent.
Forced induction may bring about quite extraordinary speed – using fourth gear alone from 1200rpm to the limiter it feels quicker than a Carrera S being gunned in each gear – but also brings handling complications.
The immediacy of the GT3 is lacking. In that car, the way a driver can juggle throttle and steering to carve a line is almost telepathic, so instant are the car’s responses. But despite having virtually no turbo lag, the GT2 does have that slight hesitation: mid-corner you never take a second stab of throttle and you still have to anticipate slightly on the exit of turns.
However, this has always been the appeal of lumpy turbocharged kit, and when it all comes together, the GT2 is untouchable. The traction control is subtle, if not as clever as the 430 Scuderia’s. It is possible to have either full stability, traction control alone or the whole lot off. The last setting needs care and attention. It began to rain during my time in the car and then came a reminder that even a 325-section rear tyre (a record width for a 911, incidentally) has no answer for 501lb ft. And when it does slide, you need to be very, very quick with the steering wheel.
Other points worthy of a mention are the folding carbon buckets that allow access to the rear cabin. They’re excellent and should be available on cooking 911s soon. The ceramic brakes (380mm front, 350mm rear) are carried over from the GT3 and are superb on the road. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres are GT2-specific but will still shift standing water.
Should I buy one?
That depends. £131,070 is big beans for a 911, nearly £50k more than a GT3 and £30k beyond even the GT3 RS.
Committed lunatics will love this car, but for all the drama –and accepting that it’s far better than the 996 version – it doesn’t alter the fact that little brother the 911 GT3 remains the best car Porsche builds right now.