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Carrera T, GTS, GT3, GT2 RS... latest Porsche sports car quartet in SA: How the legendary 911 changed the way performance cars are perceived forever

2018-08-14 10:34

Egmont Sippel

Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post

Porsche turned 70 earlier in 2018. In a mini-tribute, Egmont Sippel pays his respects by highlighting the latest quartet of the marque’s favourite son - the iconic 911.

Today’s episode provides a backdrop for the articles to follow, first on the razor-sharp GTS and GT3 and then on the mighty GT2 RS and the latest 911, the Carrera T.

The favourite son

Britain’s got one. Monaco. The Netherlands. Spain. Sweden. Norway... we’re talking royal families, with the above-mentioned list limited to Europe; there are many more scattered across the face of the planet, especially in the Middle East and Asia. Even the Yanks have an unofficial royal family in the Kennedys. So does Germany. The name is Porsche, the favourite son is the 911.

Up, up and away

Born in 1963 with a rear-mounted air-cooled 12-valve 2.0-litre flat-6 producing 96kW and 175Nm – and augmented from 1966 to 1969 by an entry-level 4-cylinder 912 model with 66kW – the 911 has responded magnificently over a lifespan of 55 years and counting.

READ: New Porsche Carrera 911 T in SA: 'Driving the Carrera T will make you feel alive'

Along the way the response has, at times, offended purists. Cooling’s been switched from air to water, charged motivation is now virtually de rigueur and the advent of the PDK double-clutch gearbox has had a detrimental effect on the connoisseur’s choice, namely manually equipped cars.

                                                                       Image: Janine Van der Post/Wheels24

The latter, though, is just about the only thing in the Porsche World showing negative growth. The rest is up, up and away. Like dimensions.

Compared to the 4135m of the car that debuted in Frankfurt more than half a century ago, today’s base model Carrera Coupé delivers a bumper to bumper stretch just one millimetre shy of 4.5m. Width is up from 1.6m to a smidgeon over 1.8m.

The modern car is also a tad taller (1294 vs 1 273m), whilst the wheelbase accommodates an extra 246mm, compared to 1963’s 2 204m.

Explosion of power and torque

Expressed as percentages, though, the latest 911 series has gained most in terms of power and weight.

The mass of the modern entry level Carrera is about 1.3 times that of 1963’s 911 – initially christened 901, until Peugeot objected – whilst peak torque and power have roughly, and respectively, been doubled and tripled.

Move to the other extreme of the 911 performance chart and the GT2 RS delivers more than five times the power and exactly four times the torque of the embryonic Neunelfer.

                                                                      Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

What we have then, is by and large the same skeleton and silhouette as back in the day, with a bit more beef and weight hanging off the 911’s backbone. Yet muscle, testosterone and cardiovascular capabilities have all grown out of proportion.

In the most extreme forms, they’re off the charts, what with twin-turbo-enhanced breathing on virtually all 911 mills, plus a compression ratio of 13.3:1 on the GT3’s normally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-6.

That’s insane, especially if you also factor in the everyday usability of a 911; how easy and pleasant it is to live with, notwithstanding cosmic power and a firm ride.

Rock solid dependability and reliability

Yet, the real strength of the car resides in integrity and quality, seemingly fortress-like and impregnable. It’s hard to imagine anything more solid, reliable and durable than a Porsche.

Earlier this year, Zuffenhausen product has again been ranked second in the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which measures the number of problems experienced by original owners of 3-year old vehicles.

Lexus fared best for the 7th year in a row, Porsche (who tied with Lexus last year for top honours) was the runner-up and Buick, in third, was the highest ranked mass produced brand.

                                                                        Image: Net Car Show

The rest of 2018’s Top Ten was rounded out by Infiniti, Kia, Chevrolet, Hyundai, BMW, Toyota and Lincoln. Honda was 11th, Audi 12th and Mercedes-Benz 14th, the latter’s 147 faults per 100 vehicles trailing the industry average by 5 index points.

Other brands familiar to South Africans were VW, Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover, respectively in 19th, 21st, 22nd and 30th places.

However, the latest J.D. Powers Initial Quality Study (IQS), released just a month ago, makes good reading for the South Koreans, with Genesis, Kia and Hyundai sweeping the podium. Porsche placed fourth in the 2018 IQS.

Track King

JD Power lists are notably devoid of exotic car manufacturers. In terms of sports car manufacturing, Porsche is by far and away the most dependable and reliable. Zuffenhausen clearly ranks very highly amongst luxury car makers as well.

That’s because Porsche does so well in all aspects of the car world, from design and sourcing, to engineering integrity and build quality, to logistics and distribution – not to speak of the company’s ability to smoothly transition from road going sportsters to race winning rockets.

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As a Le Mans winner for instance, Porsche leads the way with 19 overall victories and well over a 100 class wins, the very first one notched up in 1951, courtesy of an aluminium-bodied 356L with a 1100cc engine, delivering in the order of 60kW.

Fast forward to a modified version of last year’s race winning 919 Hybrid and you get a new outright lap record (5:19.55) for the world’s longest permanent circuit, the Nürburgring, whilst the 911 GT2 RS is the second fastest production car yet around the ’Ring, its lap time of 6:47.3 only very recently having been eclipsed by the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ (6:44.97) carrying the latest iteration – and also the last one without electrical assistance – of Sant’Agata’s mighty 6.5-litre V12.

What kind of king do you want?

The Nürburgring was but one record held by the GT2 RS. There are others, most notably at the world’s second longest permanent race track (Bend Motorsport Park, Southern Australia).

OK, it’s a new facility. But the lap time is impressive and the question really is: How many crowns can a single car wear? Or conversely: How many crown bearers can a single royal family produce?

                                                                       Image: Janine Van der Post/Wheels24

That might well depend on what you want the car and the King to be. Are you looking for the King of Speed, the King of Sound, the King of Fury or just the King of Fun?

Or do you want your car to be King of the Road, King of the Track, King of the World or King of the Universe? For each of these dreams and wishes and preferences, Porsche has niched out a 911 to dot the "i’s" and cross the "t’s".

Just consider the latest bunch that’s been introduced over the last 18 months or so, with Instalment II (911 GTS and 911 GT3) of a three-part series to follow soon.

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