Road Test: Porsche 911 GT2 2dr Reviews 2023 | Top Gear
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
Shell V-Power: Fuelling your passions
Friday 9th June
First Drive

Road Test: Porsche 911 GT2 2dr

£116,000 when new
Published: 01 Mar 2001


  • BHP


  • 0-62


  • CO2


  • Max Speed


This is the über-Porsche - the most powerful production car the Stuttgart firm produces. The 911 GT2 has all the ingredients wanted and expected from a high-end Porsche, but all to a greater degree.

When the fifth-generation 911 Turbo came out last year, putting its hefty 420bhp through a four-wheel-drive transmission with Porsche's clever PSM stability management system seemed like the only sensible option. But it transpires that even the sanest Porsche engineer has his own little inner nutter.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Based on the Turbo, yet espousing the 'power is good, more power is better' philosophy of the hardcore 360bhp 911 GT3 from '99, the GT2 has a bowel-twitching 462bhp going just to the rear wheels. And no traction control.

Let's start with the familiar: trademark flat-six engine with double overhead camshafts per bank and four valves per pot, hanging out past the rear axle, bored out this time to 3600cc and, of course, water-cooled. Sleek, monocoque, coupe-style body of lightweight galvanised steel with luggage space under the bonnet. Exceptionally direct steering and a chassis (MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link set-up out back) that keeps you more abreast of current events than CNN.

Now add the spice: twin intercooled turbos and Porsche's VarioCam Plus valve-timing-and-lift system working in tandem producing 128.4bhp per litre, asymmetric limited-slip diff (more of that later), wide 12Jx18 rear wheels wearing low, low 315/30 Pirelli P Zero rubber and full aerodynamic body kit.

And the pièce de résistance: the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes as standard - ventilated, cross-drilled discs made from ceramic composite, obviously, not steel. The advantages are better all-round performance, fade resistance and longer component life.To give an idea of the accelerative and braking powers of the GT2, Porsche has claimed that it can go from standstill to 300kph (about 186mph) and back to a full stop again in under a minute.

Advertisement - Page continues below

By comparison, a 911 Turbo needs 75 seconds to reach 300kph, let alone come to a stop again, and that car is hardly sluggish. Stop and reread this paragraph. If this claim is true, and I've no reason to doubt it, it's phenomenal.

There's a tall, skinny German guy at the GT2's launch. He is Walter Rhörl. Quiet and unassuming, Herr Rhörl, as you may or may not know, is a driving legend. Sports car racing, rallying; he's been there, won that. I talk to him about the Nürburgring, especially the 12.9-mile Nordschleife loop - the scariest circuit in the world with 80-odd corners to memorise. He's driven around there in seven minutes and 56 seconds in the GT3, a record at the time for a production car. He tells me he's been around it 10 seconds quicker in the GT2. Jeez, I whistle, how did he gain the time? Did the ceramic composite brakes allow for shorter braking distances? Dispassionately, like he's describing the weather, Walter explains that the ultimate performance of the brakes is dependant on the limitations of the tyres. It's the acceleration that made the difference. He also tells me that the GT2 is very forgiving on the limit. And if Walt says so, I believe him.

As well as its engine, the GT2 inherits a lot of the Turbo's handsome looks: the crazy-look bi-xenon headlights, the curvy front wings and the muscular rear haunches, but the aerodynamic kit is unique to this car. The GT3 starts to feel just a little nose-light when the big numbers come up on the speedo and Porsche was determined that no such accusation could be levelled at the GT2. So now a deep front spoiler with a protruding lower lip forces air flow over the bonnet and directs some towards the brakes. An extra, unattractive, but no doubt very functional, air vent sits just below and between the lights. The side skirts look very Turbo-like, as do the air scoops in front of the rear wheels.Then there's that bloody big wing on the back. Maximum downforce and maximum efficiency are the watchwords here. Housed subtly within the wing supports are more air inlets to feed the voracious engine. An even more subtle aerodynamic touch is an underfloor cover for the gearbox.

Enough already with the facts, what's it like to drive? I settle down into the hard, upright, leather-covered bucket seat, buckle the normal three-point seatbelt, rattle the short gearlever to make sure it's in neutral and turn the key. This is one of the things I love about 911s, the sound of the engine. The growling rumble sends a thrill of anticipation down the spine. I slot the gearbox into the first of its six forward ratios and let off the GT2-badged handbrake. The clutch is a bit heavy, and needs a strong left leg. Conversely, the accelerator pedal needs a gentle touch.

Top Gear

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

Ever been kicked in the back by 462 horses with 457lb ft of torque? That's what the GT2 is like to drive, if you want. At one junction, I hoof away in first and I'm up against the 6,750rpm rev limiter before I can say 'engine management system'. I've just about uttered "Engi..." before I have to change up. That's how fiercely the engine wants to rev. And yet it's not all white-knuckled, screaming Mr Hyde. The GT2 has a definite Dr Jekyll side.

Just as the Turbo feels civilised in its rapidity, so does the GT2. Obviously, turbo lag is now long extinct and the high torque and clever valve and engine management systems bless the powerplant with superb flexibility. Somehow it all feels a bit too civilised.

The ride is softer than expected, despite suspension 20mm lower than the Turbo's. And the steering feels more assisted than I'd like for a true sports car, though it's still faithful and precise. Ignore the higher noise level in the cabin (a result of removing all extraneous sound insulation) and you could be in a normal 911, with twin and side airbags, air-conditioning and a stereo, but without those silly back seats. There's not the hard edge you get in the GT3.

Still, public roads can't do the GT2 justice. An unrestricted autobahn, an airstrip or, better, a proper track would be ideal. We've got some Italian roads with a tipped-off caribinieri patrolling the only stretch of autostrada.

I do, however, find a window of opportunity. A series of tight, narrow hairpins zig-zagging up the side of an Alp. I finally get into some kind of rhythm - accelerate, slam up a gear, brake, slam down a gear, turn, accelerate again. The gearchange responds well to a fast, forceful action (the shift is 20 per cent shorter than the Turbo's) and those brakes (six-piston calipers biting the front discs and four-piston jobs grabbing the rears) are everything you'd expect from a Porsche - wonderful, full of feel and stopping power.

Porsche claims a top speed for the GT2 of 195mph and, given enough tarmac, I don't doubt it. I'm sure it feels darned stable at that speed too.

Compared with someone like Walter Rhörl, I have the driving ability of an ant, but I know what he meant when he spoke of the GT2 being forgiving on the limit. Exiting some corners, I put the power on a smidge too early and the tail tries to snake around, but it feels quite soft and predictable. We get back into shape with a some corrective steering, feedback from the helm and chassis all present and correct.

The asymmetric limited-slip diff has different slip rates for acceleration and on the overrun. This allows for a greater degree of traction under sudden load changes, as when going through a fast S-bend. Other motorsport-derived gizmos make sure that all essential engine and transmission fluids are in the right place under extreme lateral g forces.

This all sounds expensive, doesn't it? It is. If you were German, you'd have to shell out 339,000 Deutschmarks not including taxes to own one. There's no official UK price yet, but at the current exchange rate, that's £109,212. A snip, then. The good news is that this is no limited production run. Though when I asked how many would come to the UK in the first year, 'a handful' was the most exact answer I could get.

There is a Clubsport derivation which includes an integral rollcage and flame-resistant material covering those bucket seats. It would make an awesome track-day car. There's one at the launch, which I saw last night parked just a few feet from my hotel room, but, sadly, we weren't allowed to drive the thing. For a moment, I thought about bribing the guy who keeps all the keys and going for a midnight blast. Wish I'd done it now.

Colin Ryan

compare car finance
Powered byZuto Logo
more on this car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Powered byRegit Logo

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

Get your first 5 issues for £5