Review: 2009 Porsche GT2 - Switzer Performance P800

review 2009 porsche gt2 switzer performance p800

This is a moment too powerful to be taken lightly, too special to be considered ironically, too vital to examine with any pretense of journalistic impartiality. I am seated behind the wheel of an absolutely perfect, fully-loaded, brand-new Porsche GT2, unwinding the wheel at the exit of Nelson Ledges Road Course’s Carousel turn. Next to me, the car’s owner, entrepreneur and bon vivant David Kim, has planted himself squarely into the GT2’s fixed-back passenger-side bucket, rigid with anticipation. There is traffic ahead, several cars varying from Improved Touring racers to tuned-up street Hondas. It’s time to accelerate, so I press the right pedal into the carpet.

There’s a “whoosh”, and a chatter from the traction control, and the cars between us and the deadly “Kink” turn are rewound past our side windows. We’ve reached one hundred and fifty miles an hour in a matter of seconds. The closing speeds are verging on the insane. As I stand on the ABS and bend the GT2’s nose into the Kink, a wave in the pavement throws the GT2 briefly airborne. The mass of the rear engine waggles, threatens, then touches safely down with a squeak from the tires. Only one car remains, a Porsche 944 Turbo squatting on coilovers and nosing down into the next left-hander.

A well-prepared 944 Turbo is never a trivial road-course opponent, but I know I have the power to swat the Porsche+Audi like an annoying bug on the upcoming front straight. The reasonable thing to do is to wait, to use the throttle. The unreasonable thing to do is to use the carbon-ceramic yellow-caliper Porsche brakes to dive to the inside and lock up from triple digits to the turn in. That’s what I do, placing this $300,000 car door-to-door on the entrance and chattering until the front wheels find grip and we nose into the next right-hander free and clear. Utterly magical.

A few months ago, I tested Switzer Performance’s eight-hundred-horsepower Nissan GT-R at BeaveRun Road Course under rather snowy conditions. BeaveRun is a modern track, designed by Alan Wilson for safety, enjoyment, and reasonable speeds. Nelson Ledges Road Course, by contrast, is the fastest racetrack on the East Coast, a curbless, narrow, frankly deadly throwback to the callous nineteen-fifties. It seems only appropriate that I would test Switzer’s eight-hundred-plus-horsepower Porsche GT2 here. One of the deadliest modern production automobiles available, at the most uncompromising racetrack available.

The “P800” package costs forty thousand dollars on top of the quarter-million dollars required to purchase a stock 2009 GT2. For that money, you receive nothing but an extra three hundred ponies. No wheels, no brakes, no suspension, no sticker package, just the ability to distort time and space with the accelerator. Under conditions that would be so shocking to TTAC readers I am unwilling to detail them completely, I personally recorded a 0-150 time of 10.5 seconds and a 0-170 time of just under fifteen seconds. In a straight line, this Switzer GT2 would thrash a McLaren F1 and find itself just a car length or two behind a Bugatti Veyron, well past three times the double-nickel.

A full day of thrashing at Ledges failed to move the Porsche’s temperature needles into the proverbial danger zone, but it did reveal some limitations in the GT2’s factory setup. This hypercar doesn’t even handle as well as my SCCA-Solo-prepped 2004 Boxster S, thanks to a ridiculous 235-front and 335-rear staggered setup. Left to my own devices, I would fit Hoosier’s R6 tire in 305 width front and 335 rear to maximize speed potential through the Kink and permit me to rotate the car under trail-braking and midcorner throttle.

And while the carbon-ceramic brakes are positively flawless, they are hideously expensive to replace. Porsche should consider offering a steel-brake package to its dedicated track-rat GT2 customers. Potential purchasers should also consider the fact that this car operates at the kind of speeds that, until recently, were the exclusive province of tube-frame GT racers. It’s possible to kill yourself very easily and very quickly in this shark-gilled hyper-Beetle. No amount of factory stability control can cheat the laws of physics involved with a power-to-weight ratio like this.

As a driving experience, as a statement of devil-may-care masculinity, as a street car, this Switzer-tuned GT2 satisfies at all levels. There’s just one potential issue, one which came to sharp relief in my mind as I observed one of my fellow NASA racers pull his Carrera GT into the paddock at Mid-Ohio a few weeks after my Ledges test. The watercooled Porsche 911 is a familiar shape, available brand-new for seventy-eight grand at your local dealership and as a 1999-model 911 3.4 on eBay for a third of that price. Can any simple variant of the basic theme be special enough to command a pricetag in Lamborghini, Ferrari, or Carrera GT territory?

For me, the answer to the question goes back to that moment at Nelson Ledges. To have the power to break triple digits in moments—to cut the Gordian knot of any traffic ahead by the application of hyperspace thrust—to do all of this in a car which represents the ultimate refinement of the Porsche Turbo philosophy—that’s special enough for me. What makes this car better than the similarly-powered Switzer P800 Nissan GT-R? It’s simple. In the Nissan, the power merely accelerates the scenery; in this Porsche, there’s skill and bravery required to extract the maximum. It’s a challenge, rather than a mere fact, and it makes this simply one of the best performance cars ever created.

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  • Highrpm Highrpm on Jul 27, 2009

    Great review! To the doubters, come on now. You're debating the guy but you haven't driven both cars? Let me ask you something - would you take sex advice from a priest? See my point?

  • U mad scientist U mad scientist on Jul 27, 2009
    To the doubters, come on now. You’re debating the guy but you haven’t driven both cars? Let me ask you something - would you take sex advice from a priest? A gt2 is a fairly rare car (and note that jack doesn't drive the factory versions of either). That doesn't mean folks haven't driven other 911's, or gt-r's. So yes, I would take advice from others who haven't necessarily nailed the exact person of interest.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?