By on July 7, 2008

gt2-4.jpgThere I was cutting, clipping and carving corners in the ultimate Porsche 911, balancing the need for speed with self-control. I felt like an Olympic skier or Iron Chef. But there was an element missing from the GT2 experience, a deficiency that niggled like a loose ski boot or a nicked Shun Santoku. Torque. As in instant-on shove. Porsche's brilliant 3.6-liter boxer engine has too much boost and not enough low-end grunt. But isn't perfection standard in a Porsche, especially for one that costs $197,000?

Aesthetically, the GT2 is equally close to flawless. It's no lime green Gallardo South Beach Stunta; the top-of-the-line 911 is more like the Armani-wearing MBA who heads to the gym after work. Witness the GT2's curvaceous fender flares, ram-air equipped whale tail and fierce 19" wheels. The "regular" speed bits from the Turbo keep the GT2 grounded in reality, especially when finished in Carrera white. 

08911gt2a7.jpgToo bad the GT2's macho front clip's smiley speed hole gives the uber-coupe a steroid-infused Pokemon-on-wheels persona. As the umpteenth Cayenne snout indicates, The Sultans of Stuttgart need to hire a designer with a talent for rhinoplasty, stat. 

Inside, Porsche turned to Isaac Hayes' suede-lined Superfly Caddy for inspiration. Decadent Alcantara is the dominating theme of this big-body Porker. Velvety goodness envelops everything: the wheel, shifter, seats and door panels are draped with the goods. The kids may cry pimp, but the GT2's interior upgrades foreshadows the grippiness to come. The unique carbon fiber seat frames make for God-like thrones worthy of adolescent admiration.

08911gt2a5.jpgOtherwise, the GT2 is your run of the mill Porsche 911, albeit one loaded-up with a decent BOSE blaster, straightforward satellite navigation and an insightful Sport Chronograph atop the dash. The integrated package- toy-laden, high dollar luxo-street whip seamlessly blended with a purpose built racer– extends and maintains Porsche's rep as THE everyday supercar.

Appearances do not deceive. The GT2's easy action clutch, informative but effortless tiller and compassionate suspension tuning works wonders on the street. Road noise is minimal, even with barely legal Michelins underfoot. The ride's so compliant that Porsche engineers obviously bribed the laws of physics with their PASM active suspension dampening. All of which translates into a trip to Costco with the almighty Camry's spiritual blessings. That is, if you were so blasé about the affair. 

gt2-5.jpgBring Zuffenhausen's famous soldier to attention and things get serious.

The steering is the GT2's trump card. As the speed increases, the helm transforms from tame to tango. While there's nothing particularly wrong with the Turbo's tiller, everything's right with the GT2's steering. Sublime is just a word. If you can't feel exactly what the wheels are doing, check your arms for needle marks. Credit weight savings from the GT2's rear wheel drive configuration.

Cornering is predictable to the limit– which you have no business breaching on a public road. The supple ride masks the GT2's lack of appreciable body roll. Even with rear-wheel-only motivation, the Porker's foot-long Michelin rubber has Quattro-esque stick. The GT2 rockets out of the hole like a drag star, holding your conscience in automotive arachibutyrophobia.

The launch is soft, but the tach jumps when the turbos kick out the jams. All wheel-drive be damned; a trip to sixty takes all of 3.6 seconds. Quick up shifts and the nicely spaced gearing keeps the GT2 in boost country, provided one's state of mind is as track-ready as the car. And there's no running out of breath to the (advertised) 204 mph top speed. 

gt2-3.jpgThe GT2 absolutely begs to be driven faster, rewarding the driver with smooth throttle and steering inputs. Friction-friendly ceramic brake rotors ensure the same feeling, just in a different direction. Most importantly, in classic 911 fashion, the GT2 feels happy at any speed. This is classic Porsche engineering, something its Italian counterparts just don't understand. And probably never will.

There's no doubt the 911 family is a polished grouping, with the stones to justify its price tag. Expect for maybe its commander-in-chief. The sky-high GT2 begs the question: what's in it for me?  The GT2's exclusive titanium exhaust is a long-standing Z06 hallmark; its performance gain over the ultimate Chevy is mostly from super gooey tires. Plus, there's no turbo lag with a 7.0-liter torque monster.

And, near Ferrari's price point, paying 60 grand over a 911 Turbo for flared fenders, two fewer driven wheels and a modest power bump doesn't jive. The comparable F430 amazes. 911 loyalists always counter with the magic Porsche factor: inspiring intangibles attributes that turn the faithful into blind worshipers, and everyone else into respectful admirers of limited production and fat fenders.

gt2-2.jpgThen again, what's wrong with that? Not much to me, since the 911 GT2 makes a strong case for less being (worth) more.

 
(Special thanks to Mr. Steve Cela for seat time)

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41 Comments on “2008 Porsche 911 GT2 Review...”


  • avatar
    dan8001rpm

    Wow, nice review Sajeev!

    Only on TTAC can you learn that a Ferrari F430 is better value than a GT2 and about a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth!

    I say well done sir.

  • avatar
    JJ

    The appeal over the Turbo is because of the Turbo’s shortcomings, mostly AWD understeer at the limit and (becuase of?) heavyness, it’s just too effortless.

    That’s all fine if you want a daily driver that you can drive extremely fast extremely easily, but that isn’t what the Turbo should be about. It should be about thrilling the driver with its driving dynamics, being able to find the limit as a driver and having the feeling that when you mess up it can all go horribly wrong. It should be a ‘widowmaker’ (well, maybe not literally).

    In many ways this GT2 is the new version of te old Turbos, while the current Turbo offers little more than a Carrera 4(s), apart from an ugly wing (the one on the GT2 is better) and arguably some status.

    However at the same time, there is the GT3 RS that is basically a normally aspirated GT2 with a healthy 415 HP. Unfortunately that has a limited production run, otherwise that would be the one to get IMHO. And, I’m guessing here you could get a Boxster S for the price difference.

    For the record; I saw a real life performance comparison between the 911 GT2 and the Z06. Trust me, the GT2 is faster…by more than you’d expect.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    I have read a few reviews of this car recently, and they took issue with a few aspects of the car that you have praised in your review. Clarkson recently reviewed this car and said the stiff ride and road noise were unacceptable, while you mention the ride and lack of noise being extremely civilized. I am inclined to believe that Clarkson’s penchant for hyperbole got the better of him again on this issue.

    More importantly, you describe the steering as sublime, but C&D took issues with the steering, suggesting that feel disappears under acceleration as the weight shifts to the rear. They didn’t seem too impressed with the steering overall. Maybe this issue only presents itself on the track or at speeds you didn’t get a chance to attain during this review?

    In any case, this was a great review and I’m envious that you get to drive so many great cars.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Hooray, Sajeev reviews the same car one day after Clarkson does! Did you, like, coordinate schedules with JC?

    Yours is a better review, too.

    But why is Alcantara deemed decadent? It looks good, it feels good, and no dead animals are involved. People should spend more money on this kind of stuff, and less on fuel-wasters (which is an altogether different subject, I know).

  • avatar
    geggamoya

    Road noise depends heavily on the surface of the road, and without measurments it’s just a subjective opinion. There might even be a difference in sound insulation for different markets, or different suspension setup. Or maybe it’s the same and Sajeev and Clarkson just have very different opinions and taste in cars. Though i like to read TTAC and watch/read Clarkson for the same reason. Both usually say what they think, not worrying about it being politically correct and what people expect it to be.

  • avatar

    I realize it’s heresy to suggest it, but Porsche’s most modern platform is not the 911, but the Cayman. Unfortunately, Porsche seems to have Harley-Davidsoned themselves into pushing an obsolete product solely for marketing reasons. If the objective is a state-of-the-art performance platform for the track (which appears to be the GT2′s mission), big horsepower in a Cayman should produce a more rapid and well-balanced machine than big horsepower in the 911 chassis.

    It is understandable that Porsche has put themselves in this box. The introduction of the 928 and 924/944 were an attempt to demonstrate that more tractable high performance was available when you removed the large pendulum hanging off the rear axle. Unfortunately, the 928 was not sufficiently hard-edged and the 944, while a brilliant sports car, did not satisfy those who wanted a flat six in their Porsche. The plan in the late 70′s was to phase out the 911 because of its inherently difficult handling problems.

    If we fast forward to the present, the continued refinement of the 911 has produced a marvelous GT from which most of the nastiness caused by the engine location has been removed. Nonetheless, by all rights, the Cayman is the superior handler of the two, and the chassis which deserves to be elevated to uber-Porsche.

    Given the way that the 911 and Cayman are marketed however, it is unclear how Porsche can move themselves out of this box. If I recall correctly, their average per-car profit is somewhere around $28,000 per unit, and it is apparent that the 911 contributes more to this than does the Cayman, since the kit of parts is virtually identical.

    Any ideas Sajeev?

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    197,000

    mamma mia

  • avatar
    volvo

    These uber cars beg the question of where other than the track can one regularly enjoy the feeling of driving fast and at “the edge”.

    Under conditions available in the developed world; traffic and speed limits make the capabilities of these cars mostly unused. A decent video game might give the same impression of speed and risk.

    On the other hand for under $35K you could get a 2009 Mustang Bullit and under driving conditons normally available have the feeling of driving fast and “at the edge”. :)

    Perception is reality.

  • avatar

    Volvo;

    yes, because that $35k Mustang rides like a nut-punching spinal-cracker with a hideous, demeaning interior; sub par to a 2001 Mustang!

    Sorry, but the Mustang is not delivering anywhere near the driving experience a better handling car will deliver. Yes, you can go fast in a mustang, but you can in a lot of cars. Make it fun to drive and you have an argument.

  • avatar
    volvo

    To Bluebrat

    I understand the limitations of the Mustang in perfomance, handling and aesthetics. You might not want your friends and neighbors to see you in one.

    My point was that under normal driving conditions the Mustang might deliver excitement (gee I’m going fast, am I going to lose it?) that a 911 or other high end car can only deliver on the track.

    Fast in a Mustang = 70mph. Fast in a 911 = 150mph.

    To me it’s all relative.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “Aesthetically, the GT2 is equally close to flawless.”

    Only if your idea of flawless is an overturned hot tub.

    Porsche hasn’t built a beautiful car since the 928. The “911″ is is tired and was only marginally attractive to begin with.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    I agree 100% with Robert, I have never understood how Porsche has convinced so many people that a rear-heavy, lowered-Beetle looking thing is beautiful. Audi somehow managed to do the same thing with the TT. The 911/Beetle/TT shape has never appealed to me. I think over the years the performance mystique has been so intertwined with the styling that people no longer think about what it is that makes everybody think a 911 is a good looking vehicle. The Cayman looks a lot better to my eyes

  • avatar
    BEAT

    I saw one in Burlington, Massachusetts gas station

    But the exterior looked different.
    It has these vortex generators and a better tarmac. I wasn’t sure if the owner bought some extra body kit but it was totally different look.

    I asked the dealer how much was it?

    He just smiled at me.

  • avatar

    Thank you all for reading and offering your insightful comments.

    JJ: In many ways this GT2 is the new version of te old Turbos, while the current Turbo offers little more than a Carrera 4(s), apart from an ugly wing (the one on the GT2 is better) and arguably some status.

    I’d agree with the GT2 being the old school 911 Turbo of yesteryear. That’s a good thing, too.

    JJ: For the record; I saw a real life performance comparison between the 911 GT2 and the Z06. Trust me, the GT2 is faster…by more than you’d expect.

    Of course it’s faster. Porsche has Pilot Sport Cups, not asstastic run-flats. One of these days somebody will run a Z06 on said Michelins and we’ll see just how impressive the GT2 really is.

    thetopdog: Clarkson recently reviewed this car and said the stiff ride and road noise were unacceptable, while you mention the ride and lack of noise being extremely civilized.

    The ride was as smooth as a regular Carrera, I don’t know how beat up JC’s press car was but Steve’s sure was a nice ride on rough Houston roads.

    thetopdog: More importantly, you describe the steering as sublime, but C&D took issues with the steering, suggesting that feel disappears under acceleration as the weight shifts to the rear. They didn’t seem too impressed with the steering overall. Maybe this issue only presents itself on the track or at speeds you didn’t get a chance to attain during this review?

    Correct. I found the steering to be much nicer than the AWD Turbo, it was a smidge light, but the entire car feels light. And tossable. It’s a good feeling on the street. Maybe track time would make me think otherwise, but this is no overboosted E39 M5. Not by a long shot.

    Martin Schwoerer: Hooray, Sajeev reviews the same car one day after Clarkson does! Did you, like, coordinate schedules with JC?

    Sure. Like, he trades notes with me on Facebook all the time.

    Or not.

    Martin Schwoerer: But why is Alcantara deemed decadent? It looks good, it feels good, and no dead animals are involved. People should spend more money on this kind of stuff, and less on fuel-wasters (which is an altogether different subject, I know).

    How about decadence without the guilt? Kinda like man-made shag carpeting on an Electra 225.

    geggamoya: Road noise depends heavily on the surface of the road, and without measurments it’s just a subjective opinion.

    Even then, people’s ears “listen” differently than a machine. And eardrums are like opinions. Mine were perfectly happy with the noise to performance ratio: much nicer than a F430, Ford GT, Gallardo. I expect Clarkson’s car was either a well worn press car, or his eardrums need a tuning ratchet. (kidding)

    edgett: I realize it’s heresy to suggest it, but Porsche’s most modern platform is not the 911, but the Cayman. Unfortunately, Porsche seems to have Harley-Davidsoned themselves into pushing an obsolete product solely for marketing reasons.

    I might agree with that. One of these days I need to muster up the courage to get a Porsche dealer to give me the keys to a Cayman, because they are the perfect sports car from every other touchpoint in my experience. Well, aside from its lack of power at that asking price.

    edgett: The plan in the late 70’s was to phase out the 911 because of its inherently difficult handling problems.

    But what seems to be an inherent problem to some turns into a bulletproof branding strategy to others. This isn’t a Honda Accord: character goes a long way at this price point, you know?

    volvo : Under conditions available in the developed world; traffic and speed limits make the capabilities of these cars mostly unused. A decent video game might give the same impression of speed and risk.

    As an avid GT4 (didn’t buy GT5 Prologue, waiting for the real thing) user, I’m gonna have to disagree with you. There’s exactly zero risk in gaming, which is kind of the point.

    volvo : On the other hand for under $35K you could get a 2009 Mustang Bullit and under driving conditons normally available have the feeling of driving fast and “at the edge”.

    I guess if that’s true, you could get an $18,000 Grand Marquis, lower the whitewalls down to 20psi and enjoy 10/10ths driving without even a raised eyebrow from the local law enforcement. :-)

    Robert Schwartz : Porsche hasn’t built a beautiful car since the 928. The “911″ is is tired and was only marginally attractive to begin with.

    Granted I am a big 928 fan—-my favorite Porker will always be the German Camaro-—but the 911 is proof that continuous improvement is a good thing. And that the Porsche Brand has singular appeal because of that vehicle.

    After driving a GT2, I can see why they still stick to it. Even if the Cayman may be the way forward for Porsche.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Oh!!! the Porsche I saw was a Hamann Design. (I asked my friend)

    It is own by a very rich man from Burlington.

  • avatar

    There are torque junkies, and then there’s Sajeev…

  • avatar
    lizthevw

    $197,000? Come on, a Nissan GTR sets you back $69,000 and is faster. I’m not saying that the 911 isn’t the better ride – it has a proper manual and is RWD for a start, but there is no justifying that ridiculous price tag. And don’t talk to me about the badge, my weekend toy is a 911, and the badge just makes it embarrassing.

  • avatar
    Kfleming

    What a beautiful car.

  • avatar

    Volvo, by that logic you could always get a Aveo and be excited idling :)

  • avatar
    volvo

    volvo : On the other hand for under $35K you could get a 2009 Mustang Bullit and under driving conditons normally available have the feeling of driving fast and “at the edge”.

    I guess if that’s true, you could get an $18,000 Grand Marquis, lower the whitewalls down to 20psi and enjoy 10/10ths driving without even a raised eyebrow from the local law enforcement. :-)

    Wow, hadn’t thought of that. It might work for me.

    Volvo, by that logic you could always get a Aveo and be excited idling :)

    Hmmm! I wonder how much it would cost to get my aforementioned video game set up in the Aveo linked to the controls. Might be safe and exciting. :) :)

  • avatar
    SAC

    Porsche needs to revive the 550 Spyder. With the economic downturn and the higher cost of fuel a small light car will be the future of performance. The 911 is too big and too heavy. The issue of feel will improve when overall weight is reduced.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Volvo, I understand your point completely!

    In the real world the GT2 serves more as a conversation piece than as a object of automotive enjoyment. Really what can you do with it outside of a serious racetrack? This thing (and many other cars like it) will achive 60mph before you are even out of your driveway and can top 200mph!
    The most accurrate word to describe the performance of this thing is “insane”. So whats next, 2000hp, 300mph????

    Too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing IF there is not a way for it to be enjoyed or used properly. Once you reach a certain point adding more is just plain STUPID!
    Yeah yeah, yeah, there might be all of 100 people in the world that can TRULY handle a 200mph STREET CAR but even so WTF is the point? You cant even manage 200mph on the autobahn, so why?

    Answer: When that $30,000 Mustang IS actually more fun to drive you need something to brag about!

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    whatdoiknow, volvo: Have either of you guys ever driven a high performance car? There is a lot more fun to be had in a well-balanced, good-handling, high hp car than in a Mustang. Speed limits are irrelevant, 99% of the people out there exceed the speed limit from time to time, and there are places out there where you can safely drive well above the limit, even in America. Not that you have to be doubling the speed limit on a regular basis to have fun in a GT2, even at reasonably sane speeds, the instantly-available power and extreme grip of a car like this is exhilarating.

    If either of you are ever in the Boston area, I would be happy to give you a ride in my 400hp Corvette to show you how fun it can be to drive a relatively lightweight, balanced, high-hp car. I have a ton of fun in it nearly every time I’m behind the wheel. And I’ve ‘only’ got 400hp. I can only imagine how much more fun I could have in a car as powerful as a GT2

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    I realize it’s heresy to suggest it, but Porsche’s most modern platform is not the 911, but the Cayman.

    That isn’t heresy, it’s common knowledge among those who aren’t infected with the 911 mystique. You can find subtle acknowledgments in any comparison of the Carrera and the Cayman.

    The solution is to introduce a new mid-engined model over the 911 that’s larger than the Cayman, and then progressively phase out the 911. There’s only so much Porsche can do with the RR platform, and no minor revision will rectify the thrashing it’s taken at the hands of the GT-R. And the best part? They could charge even more for it.

  • avatar
    Hellhund

    Man, what a beautiful car. Good review, too.

    A niggle:

    The sky-high GT2 begs the question: what’s in it for me?

    You mean raises the question, right? Begging the question is something else altogether.

  • avatar
    Buck Futter

    Expect for maybe its commander-in-chief.

    I expect any commander-in-chief to justify why they are allowed to keep their position despite any evidence of WMDs :-)

  • avatar

    Hellhund Says: You mean raises the question, right? Begging the question is something else altogether.

    Who am I to question widespread use of American vernacular? Plus, MBAs aren’t good with English and stuff. :-)

    But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

  • avatar
    volvo

    To the topdog who asked: whatdoiknow, volvo: Have either of you guys ever driven a high performance car?

    I have been up and down the ladder during my driving career. 1969 2002, 1972 280sel 4.5, 1985 928S, 1989 mustang 5.0lx, 1993 Volvo 245T, 2007 Accord V6.

    I usually keep cars decades. Still have the Mustang.

    In the 1970′s and 80′s with the BMW, MBZ and 928 I could really wring them out.

    Traffic growth, more restrictive speed limits and personal experience lead to my comments about the ownership of very high performance cars in the USA cira 2008.

  • avatar
    onerareviper

    Not to bust your stones, but the C6 Z06 does not have a titanium exhaust. It is stainless steel. That being said, the previous generation C5 Z06 did have a titanium exhaust. Just for the nit pickers – ;) Other than that, great review.

    In other news, there is one MAJOR problem with a Porsche GT2. Actually, one word. DEPRECIATION. The 996 GT2′s were not much cheaper than the current offering, if any. And on the used market a perfect example can be had for less than half. That’s a tough pill to swallow IMHO. The GT3 may not have the Turbo ‘shove’, but it sure seems to be the smart buy + many feel it is the better 911. That being said, I have a feeling most people purchasing a GT2 new could care less about depreciation.

  • avatar
    hondagirl

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about the vanilla 911, but I can’t imagine spending that much on a car.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Taking our postprandial stroll this evening, I espied a Porsche 356 cabriolet. It was black and seemingly in concourse condition. I thought to myself, because my wife is completely uninterested in things automotive: “cute, but not beautiful.”

  • avatar

    onerareviper Says: Not to bust your stones, but the C6 Z06 does not have a titanium exhaust. It is stainless steel. That being said, the previous generation C5 Z06 did have a titanium exhaust. Just for the nit pickers – ;) Other than that, great review.

    You’re right. Sheesh, I usually do my homework on these things.

    Since the Z06 is still a few pounds lighter with all its exotic materials (aluminum, mag, balsa, etc) maybe that’s the re-write this article deserves.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Hondagirl,

    you can buy a cheap used Porsche under $2,000 on craigslist, spend another 5 grand and you will have a descent Porsche to cruise around your town.

    If you love the Bug you should love the Porsche.

  • avatar
    obrodskiy

    Do not click

  • avatar
    DearS

    Who needs justice?

    I have not driven 350+ hp and I’m already scared ie. excited. A 190hp E34 is all I seem to need. I better not buy into thinking I need this car or anything like it to be ok, although it can help comfort me some. I’m ok though. Its a beautiful machine, that I’m scared of, do not have the cash for and I obsess about. I seem to volunteer to entertain fairy tales as being realistic short term expectations. That is not healthy. I need excitement in my life I guess. I need to lighten up and have fun. I do not depend on a car for that, just myself (and god). I’m grateful the GT2 exists, but I’m more grateful I have today to enjoy my life.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Hondagirl,

    Buy the Porsche, but keep the Honda, you will need it when it rains or on those days when the Porsche just doesn’t feel like playing.

  • avatar

    I’d rather read a review about a car that is really within the realm of reality. When cars cost this much, it just isnt fun. For that kind of money, the thing should be absolutely perfect.

  • avatar
    rtz

    Four wheel drive in a car is over rated:

    http://s97997631.onlinehome.us/temp/forums/wheelie.jpg

    http://lh3.ggpht.com/_EZivor41j-M/RoKX2O2QaLI/AAAAAAAAAfg/oAxlluZ2ZbM/Goodwod+car+takes+off+2007.jpg

  • avatar
    escapenguin

    In 8/10ths driving, you’d be more than happy with a Mustang, especially with a Bullitt. I know I’d be more than psyched. But I guess the point some of the posters here are trying to make is, which car would you rather be driving while putting Ben Franklins on the dashboard and casually mentioning to your passengers, “If you can grab it, you can have it” before mashing the gas.

    Here are your choices:

    Lamborghini Leggera
    Mustang Bullitt

    If you picked the Mustang, you’re just nuts. The Porsche is very nearly as quick as the Lambo, if not quicker, and nearly as expensive too. I’d mull over the exhilaration of the Lambo and probably end up shelling out for a Cayman. They accept tweaks well, last I heard.a

  • avatar
    hondagirl

    BEAT,

    You know what they say: There’s nothing more expensive than a cheap Porsche.

  • avatar
    lmanier

    You people who are overly concerned about the beauty of Porsches no doubt are not Porsche purists. My knowledge of Porsche purists suggests they love this car for it’s performance first. You know — form follows function.


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