Porsche 911 GT2 RS: the price of feeling alive again is a cool R5.5m
Driving the multi-million rand Porsche GT2 RS gives you a strange kind of god complex, writes Thomas Falkiner
The smell of the leather always excited my imagination and I picture myself in a different situation. I'm a company director, two kids and a wife; I get the feeling that there's more to this one's life.
These are Sting's words, not mine. Lyrics about a thief who imagines his life is like those of the people whose cars he steals. But they've always held some relevance to me because of what I do as a profession: I write about brief liaisons with the cars I test drive, cars that, in most cases, I will never be able to afford.
For a few strange days I'm not just at the helm of a different machine but I feel I'm in a completely different existence: one at odds with my comparatively simple career as a motoring journalist.
Driving high-end cars gives me a taste (or should that be a taunt?) of how my life could have been had I had the aptitude, intelligence or drive to really do something lucrative. Business owner. Magnate. Software genius.
Different cars conjure up different profiles. But priced at R5.5-million (that's excluding the optional Weissach package), only God knows what the owner of this new Porsche 911 GT2 RS does for a living.
You read it right - even though this same car is being handed out to selected members of the motoring press for a few fast and furiously exclusive test drives around the Western Cape, it has already been sold to somebody armed with the requisite ammo and status.
There are rumours whooshing about the internet that only 1,000 of these Porsches will be built and each is already spoken for
This, as you can imagine, adds to the anxiety of signing the mandatory indemnity form. For even if I survive the crash with my legs unbroken, you can bet they won't stay that way as I'm transported, gagged and bound, to that sinister pig farm on the outskirts of town.
But the thought of being clubbed to death and fed to a hungry herd of billionaire's swine doesn't seem so bad considering just how special this Porsche really is. Depending on whom you speak to, or what geeky motoring forums you read, you'll learn that the 991.2 GT2 RS is something of an automotive rarity.
There are rumours whooshing about the internet that only 1,000 will be built and each is already spoken for. Porsche denies this. Whatever. The fact remains that this machine, especially in a local context, is a unicorn. A unicorn with a horn fashioned from 64-carat unobtanium.
"But hang on," I hear you ask, "what's the fuss about? It looks just like any other 911."
FAST FACTS: PORSCHE 911 GT2 RS
• ENGINE: 3800cc twin-turbo flat-six
• POWER: 515 kW at 700rpm
• 0-100km/h: 2.8 seconds
• TOP SPEED: 340km/h
• TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed PDK
• TORQUE: 750Nm from 2,500 to 4,500rpm
• PRICE: From R5,511,000
Well the hullaballoo lies in the car's credentials. The new GT2 RS is the fastest street-legal Porsche to ever wear a 911 badge (although technically speaking it doesn't). It's also the fastest production car to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife - that ridiculously gnarly racetrack in the west of Germany. It beat its closet rival, the Lamborghini Huracán Performante, by almost a full five seconds.
This is a big freaking deal.
Even bigger of a deal is the fact that the GT2 RS cut nine seconds out of the time set by its bigger brother, the Porsche 918 - a car that would, if you can find a seller, cost you in the region of R17-million. Look at the GT2 RS in this light and it suddenly becomes something of a performance bargain. Like getting a Saturn V rocket for the price of a firework.
A HELL OF A RIDE
So what is it like? What is it like strapping yourself into somebody else's super car - this exotic assemblage of aluminium and magnesium? It's frightening at first, obviously, because the risk-to-reward ratio is so exponentially higher than in any other machine I've ever piloted.
It's also uncomfortable too. Not physically, you understand, but psychologically. Your regular 911 might well blend into the crowd but the GT2 RS makes its presence known with myriad scoops and creases and wings. Not to mention the racing stripes: contrasting swathes of paint and carbon that read like tribal tattoos across the visage of an axe-wielding barbarian. It's an easy car to feel self-conscious in. Fortunately this dissolves when I leave Cape Town behind.
There are fewer eyes out in the country. Fewer traffic lights too. And it is here where the sheer psychotic lunacy of the GT2 RS hits me like an exotic drug mainlined straight into my jugular vein. It is so ridiculously rapid.
Basically a monument to all the marque's learnings in motorsport, the twin-turbocharged flat-six motor lurking behind your spine picks up almost immediately to fire you down the asphalt in the same way the sling on an aircraft carrier catapults a jet fighter down the deck: brutal, instant and with a force that rearranges your inner juices.
You can literally feel your eyeballs trying not to burst in their sockets and run messily down the back of their optic nerves.
The force is absolutely staggering. Equally astounding is the way this 911 makes you re-evaluate the relationship between speed and distance.
Suddenly 240km/h feels like 120km/h. And the stage at which you'd start braking in a lesser sports car, is now too late. Indeed, driving a GT2 RS is like watching a film in fast-forward. I'd guess that it's the quickest car I have ever driven.
It's all quite overwhelming at first. But once you get more accustomed to the new Gaussian-blurred-around-the-edges reality, the more you dig it. Piloting a GT2 RS gives you a strange kind of god complex.
When gripping that Alcantara-clad steering wheel anything seems possible and nothing can fill your rear-view mirror. You're an apex predator capable of devouring all.
And not just in a straight line either. Franschhoek Pass. Helshoogte. All those deliciously squiggly kinks linking Villiersdorp to Caledon.
I won't bore you with overly technical jargon or clichéd terminology: just know that through corners the GT2 RS feels and reacts like a more focused version of the GT3 RS I drove last year - already one of the finest handling cars money can buy at the moment.
Scrape away the gloss and you'll find a good dose of old-fashioned 'widowmaker' mixed into the GT2 RS recipe, a lunacy you don't quite get anywhere else
Sure, it rides noticeably stiffer and the cabin fairly quakes to the vibrations pulsing from the titanium exhaust system but I'm happy to live with that. And in fact anyone can. For when you take it slow and pay obeisance to the legal speed limit, the GT2 RS is strangely agreeable - well, in a Hannibal Lector-restrained-in-a-facemask kind of way.
Always know that this remains a car that demands respect. It will play nice. It will flatter you. It will teach you things about physics you didn't know. Get overly familiar though, take liberties (especially in the wet) and there's a very good chance that this Porsche will be eating your liver with some spätzle and a nice Riesling.
Perhaps this is what makes this German so appealing; there remains a sharp and exposed edge on which to cut yourself. Scrape away the gloss and you'll find a good dose of old-fashioned "widowmaker" mixed into the GT2 RS recipe, a lunacy you don't quite get anywhere else.
The rain is falling heavily now; the drops sounding twice their size as they smash against the carbon-fibre roof centimetres from my head. I cool it down, dial back and for a few minutes revel in the cocktail of emotions this incredible machine has just plunged me into. Wonderment. Fear. Exhilaration. Intimations of mortality. A sense of infallibility.
This Porsche really makes you ponder, makes you feel alive and human again.
I still don't know who its owner is. Perhaps I don't want to. But I like to think whoever it is will nod in agreement and appreciate the kick it has given me. Steely Dan once said you can't buy a thrill. But, man, for R5.5-million I would have to disagree. I just wish more people on the planet could experience it.
6 THINGS THAT MAKE THE PORSCHE GT2 RS SO SPECIAL
1. ANOTHER TANK TO FILL
To keep air intake temperatures down and power up in the most demanding conditions, Porsche equipped the GT2 RS with special charge air coolers. There's a five-litre tank of distilled water in the frunk - keep it topped up for optimum performance.
2. SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL
You're going to want to take your GT2 RS to the track, which is why Porsche fitted it with a roll cage. If you specified your car with the optional Weissach package then it will be made from titanium and weigh an incredible 9kg less than the steel one in the standard model.
3. IF YOU'RE SITTING COMFORTABLY, BEGIN
Ultra lightweight bucket seats come standard and they're great for track work. However,
if you're looking for extra everyday comfort then you might want to specify the optional Sports Plus seats with their more plush 18-way adjustment.
4. CUSTOM CONCERNS
Factory suspension settings not good enough for you? Well then you'll be pleased to know that the GT2 RS allows you to tweak ride height, camber, track and anti-roll bar settings to suit your personal preference. A real boon for track days.
5. MAY THE DOWNFORCE BE WITH YOU
Probably the most striking and standout feature of the GT2 RS is its enormous carbon-fibre rear wing. Kept in place by forged aluminium supports, it's fully adjustable and can - at a steady 340km/h - contribute a staggering 450kg of downforce.
6. BRAKE IT DOWN
Serious speed requires some serious anchors. Consequently Porsche fits the GT2 RS with ceramic carbon brakes as standard equipment (410mm at the front and 390mm at the rear). Not only are they lighter than steel brakes, they're more fade-resistant too.