2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

With great power comes great responsibility. David Booth gets behind the wheel of a truly volatile sports car.

Porsche uses a titanium exhaust and plenty of carbon fibre to make the GT2 RS weigh just 1,370kg.
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I, like a million other crackpots, have an idea to help BP wage its battle against errant fossil fuels; buy a fleet of Porsche 911s. Now, initially this is going to seem like another in a long line of public relations gaffes for the oil giant whose now former CEO so famously lamented that he'd "like his life back." Nothing, after all, sums up insular ambivalence quite like buying a petrol-guzzling supercar right in the middle of the biggest waste of natural resources in the history of all oil exploration.

Nonetheless, I think the company should persevere, not just because, well, Porsches of all stripes are a barrel of fun, but I honestly believe that - with a few basic modifications - Porsche's phantasmagorical new GT2 RS may be the solution to the Gulf of Mexico's little spillage problem. You see, in making the new RS version of its turbocharged supercar, Porsche extracted all manner of horsepower - 620 ponies, in fact - from its relatively miniscule 3.6 litres. In so doing, they turbocharged the poor little boxer six cylinder within an inch of its life, force-feeding it to the tune of 23.5psi of turbo boost, putting the 3.6L right on the edge of going kablooey (an exactingly-precise technical term for the explosion of connecting rods, crankshafts and anything else rotating that occurs when overly enthusiastic turbocharging frags an engine).

And here's where BP might be able to finally garner some brownie points. In order to deal with all that power, the RS engine's boasts no less than nine, count 'em nine, oil pumps. And making my plan even more perfect, only one of those actually pumps oil, the other eight - and I think you can see my plan coming together here - all scavenge oil from various dark recesses of the GT2's engine. Lash on a couple of pontoons, hook up the rear axle to the mother of all propellers and you have the world's fastest - 330kph, says Porsche - oil skimmer. Hey, it must have a prodigious sucking ability, as the GT2 RS carries an oil tanker-like 11L of fossil funk in its race car-inspired remote reservoir.

Even if it can't solve the world's greatest environmental catastrophe, the 2011 GT2 RS has a lot going for it. That 620 horsepower, for instance. Then there's the fact that it only has to motivate 1,370kg, giving the RS a power-to-weight ratio roughly equivalent to a Saturn rocket. In remaking the GT2 into this lightweight RS format, Porsche has really busted open the piggy bank. The entire exhaust system is titanium, there's enough carbon fibre to outfit a Formula One car (you can even order carbon fibre front fenders) and, if you are really, really dedicated to your weight watching, you can order a lithium-ion battery that saves a whopping 10kg over that archaic lead-acid monstrosity.

The end result is a car that is well near demonic and as terrifying as cars get, though a quick perusal of the RS's spec sheet might initially be disappointing. Porsche claims the GT2 accelerates to 100kph in 3.5 seconds; impressive, yes, but behind the Turbo S which boasts 3.3 seconds from "just" 530 horses. Don't be deceived. The Turbo S benefits from the extra traction of its all-wheel-drive system (yes, the RS tries to transmit all its 620hp and 700Nm of torque through the rear wheels) and its seven-speed PDK system's launch control (the GT2 is only available with a six-speed manual) optimises clutch operation during takeoff. GT2s, meanwhile, make do with only two driven wheels and a ham-fisted human like yours truly to modulate the clutch, so both traction and power regulation are inferior.

Delve a little deeper into the spec sheet, however, and you discover that the RS will sprint to 200kph in a positively frightening 9.8 seconds and will hit 300 klicks an hour in less than half a minute. From behind the wheel, it's absolutely breathtaking. From 2,500rpm to 4,500rpm, the RS accelerates about as hard as a Turbo S; not surprising since the two cars share the same 700Nm maximum torque. But around 5,000 rpm - when the standard 911 Turbo's progress is starting the tail off - the GT2 seems to gain two more pistons and an extra turbocharger, snorting ahead like an angry rhinoceros on steroids. The steering wheel starts getting light, the chassis seems to coil up like a giant spring and then the RS is launched down the road like a 1,000cc superbike at full honk. Anyone saying they're not intimidated is either lying or Walter Röhrl. That same German race driver, by the way, just set a new record for production cars around the famed Nürburgring in the GT2 RS, navigating 20.8km in 7:18 minutes, faster than either the Dodge Viper ACR or the Nissan GT-R.

What makes it all the more dramatic, though, is that all that power is being transferred through the rear wheels only, the GT2 jettisoning the base 911 Turbo's all-wheel-drive as superfluous and unnecessary weight. Unnecessary it may be when the road is smooth, dry and your name is Röhrl (named the rally driver of the century by the European motoring press), but in most conditions a Turbo S would just be so much easier to drive. It's not that the GT2 handles badly. Au contraire, it's nigh on perfect with pinpoint sharp turn-in, non-existent roll and exquisite balance thanks to the combination of 245/35ZR19 in front and huge 325/30ZR19 (sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Comps to boot) in back to put all that power to the ground.

But where the standard Turbo is a big, friendly puppy, its all-wheel-drive managing all those Newton metres with relative ease, the two-wheel-drive GT2 RS always feels like an angry Rottweiler, ready to sink its teeth into anyone not giving it their full attention. Driving this car without Porsche's Active Stability Management (PASM) would be madness. It's barely sane with it fully engaged. So, absolutely, give me one as a race track toy. In capable hands - and mine are barely that - the GT2 RS is a weapon. It is the most powerful and fastest production Porsche of all time (and yes, I'm counting the Carrera GT). It is also, strictly speaking, street legal, so it would be the ultimate Porsche to drive back and forth to track-day shenanigans. But for everyday riding and, truth be told, even for playing silly buggers on twisty backroads, the Turbo S is easier, more fun and, in most people's hands, probably also quicker. It also costs about $100,000 (Dh367,000) less.

Be careful what you ask for, goes the adage. Sports car drivers continually demand more power; Porsche just delivered it. I just hope that those who buy a GT2 RS are up to the task. The 911 GT2 RS could hit the UAE as early as September.