To recognize the 911 GT2 RS as the $348,730 bargain that it actually is, you just need to frame the car correctly. Mostly, that means removing the Corvette ZR1 from the picture. Here we have the Nürburgring Nordschleife production-car lap-record holder built with carbon-fiber anti-roll bars and end links, magnesium wheels, and a titanium exhaust. The exotic brands could charge a million bucks for this pedigree, and yet, with a Porsche badge, it comes with a $650,000 discount for looking a bit froggier than your average McLaren or Ferrari.
The British Racing Green paint-and the constant presence of a Sebring Orange ZR1-rendered the GT2 RS invisible to locals on our tour of coal country. To the untrained eye, it’s easy to miss the radical form in the functional bits such as the louvered front fender vents and the NACA hood ducts that feed cool air to the brakes. The focus is so tight that what appears to be badging on the GT2 is just decals, and the grilles resemble chicken wire. Porsche’s RS cars get away with this because it all falls within the spirit of weight reduction, an exercise that keeps the GT2 within 73 pounds of a 911 Carrera with the dual-clutch automatic.
For decades now, Porsche sports cars have only bitten their most unskilled pilots, and this one is no different. On the skidpad, where the GT2 RS recorded 1.12 g’s of grip, the limit is clearly demarcated by benign understeer. Like all 911s, though, the GT2 pays close attention to how you load and unload its tires. It comes alive when you call the more advanced plays. Trail-brake into a curve or back out of the throttle midcorner, and the nose bites and the rear end unsticks. On the second half of our slalom, where the cone spacing shrinks from 90 feet to 50 through the last five cones, it takes steady hands and a sure foot to simultaneously corner and slow the GT2 without turning the flat-six into a pendulum that’s been cut loose.
If that sounds like a handful, well, that’s exactly what the GT2 RS is not. Rooted by its firm brake pedal and precise steering, the GT2 RS ties a great road together with its responsive fluidity. And where the Corvette needs to be uncorked to fully appreciate its specialness, the Porsche’s air of completeness is palpable at any speed. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is as impressive choosing gears in city traffic as it is cracking from first to second at 7000 rpm.
Squeezing its 700 horsepower from a 3.8-liter flat-six, the GT2 RS doesn’t have the off-idle response of the ZR1-or even of a suburbia-optimized crossover, for that matter. Variable-geometry turbos pull the 553-lb-ft torque plateau down to 2500 rpm, below which there’s an initial whiff of turbo lag. Keep the power primed with the carbon-fiber shift paddles or the PDK Sport mode, however, and the GT2 RS slingshots from a steady cruise to violent speeds without hesitation.
In the sweltering afternoon heat of our instrumented testing, the GT2’s intercooler misters sprayed enough distilled water that the car asked for a refill of its 1.3-gallon tank before we were done. That thirst begat an impressive consistency. With a 5000-rpm windup, Porsche’s launch control placed all 14 of our acceleration runs within 0.2 second of one another. At 2.6 seconds, the GT2’s zero-to-60-mph sprint goes on record as being the quickest we have ever measured from a rear-wheel-drive car. Its heady quarter-mile-10.3 seconds at 140 mph-is one tick behind that of the lighter and more powerful McLaren 720S. And where the Corvette ZR1 slows noticeably as it runs into a wall of air at triple-digit speeds, the 911’s intensity never fades.
The GT2 RS is not a daily driver. With the exhaust in sport mode, the flat-six bounces a subdued warble off the Gorilla Glass rear window during overrun. Compared with the firecracker staccato of a Chevy small-block V-8, though, the Porsche speaks in a monotonous drone that can become taxing on the highway. Inside, the sculptural carbon-fiber buckets are reasonably wide and well padded, but like every fixed-back seat we’ve ever sampled, they’re incompatible with public-school posture. Facing the 350-mile drive home from Charleston to Ann Arbor, we desperately wished for the 18-way adjustable sport seats that Porsche offers as an alternative.
Even given its stratospheric cost, we never doubted the GT2 RS’s price or value proposition the same way we did the Corvette’s. Its position as the sharpest knife in the deep 911 drawer is clear and unassailable. The GT2’s ability to inspire confidence and speed is matched by few other cars, most of them costing roughly $350,000, too. So Porsche scores a narrow victory this time. But we already know Chevrolet is readying for the next round.