As you read this, the first examples of the new Porsche 911 are en route to the UK. The eighth-generation 911 (codenamed 992) is the most hotly anticipated sports car of 2019 and, rest assured, you’ll read about it here soon.
However, before the ship docks at Dover, disgorging 992s onto every side street in west London, it seemed fitting to bid auf wiedersehen to the outgoing model. And so I called Porsche to ask – politely – to borrow a GT2 RS.
This car is the 991 at the peak of its powers: a hardcore hero with two seats, a titanium rollcage and an Airbus-sized rear wing. It’s the fastest, most powerful road-legal 911 yet made. A 700hp twin-turbo engine means 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and 211mph flat-out, plus the ability to blitz the 12.9-mile Nürburgring circuit in six minutes 47 seconds. Among series production cars, only the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ has gone quicker.
Arriving at Porsche HQ, I sign a disclaimer promising not to die, then collect the keys. The Miami Blue GT2 RS bristles with mechanical malice, its familiar silhouette peppered with aggressive aero addenda. The 3.8-litre motor clatters like a bag of bolts at idle, but proves even-tempered and superbly tractable around town. With the paddleshift PDK gearbox in auto mode (only the naturally-aspirated GT3 RS had a manual option), this racetrack refugee initially feels no more taxing than a common-or-garden Carrera.
Lulled into a false sense of serenity, I head west and arrive at the ‘Lambourn Triangle’ – a lightly-trafficked loop of Berkshire B-roads used as a test route by car magazines. Passing a national speed limit sign, I flatten my right foot and a wall of power wallops me between the shoulder blades. With 553lb ft of torque from 2,500rpm, the turbocharged Rennsport accelerates with the intensity of an avalanche, the industrial rumble of its flat-six amplified to a primal roar. Its sheer ferocity scrambles my synapses, pummeling the breath from my lungs. Physically and mentally, it’s all-consuming.
Thankfully, the Porsche has a chassis equal to its straight-line speed. Its ball jointed, solidly mounted suspension is closely related to the 911 Cup car, but adaptive dampers and helper springs add a degree of civility. Brakes are huge ceramic composite discs with six-pot front calipers, while soft-compound Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres offer motorsport-grade adhesion – on dry Tarmac, at least. Keep the throttle pinned until VMAX and the RS generates 450kg of downforce, equivalent to nearly a third of its own weight.
The result, once I’ve recalibrated my brain to that pulse-spiking performance, is a car that’s fluid, intuitive and richly rewarding to drive. Turn-in is razor-sharp, the GT2 RS hard-wired into every ripple of the road, yet its ride is supple enough not to feel skittish. Rear-wheel steering improves stability at speed, too. As my confidence grows, I push harder, feeling the weight shift, brakes bite and tyres squirm. Despite that sledgehammer shove, everything moves with a measured directness that speaks of meticulous German engineering. I’m still in awe of this über-911, but I’m no longer intimidated by it.
The turbocharged 911 has come a long way, from wayward ‘widowmaker’ to laser-guided missile. However much I up my game, the GT2 RS rises to the challenge. It’s a fitting flagship for the 991, and already an appreciating future classic.
At present, the new 992 is only available in 450hp Carrera S guise, but RS versions are already deep in development. How much further can Porsche push the 911? I’m not sure, but don’t bank on Lamborghini holding that lap-record for long.
• Tim Pitt works for motoringresearch.com