Porsche 996 GT2: analogue anomaly
It is snowing. That’s suboptimal for any photoshoot, and more so when the subject will be a 996 GT2. Apparently the UK is being beaten by the ‘Beast of the East’, a Siberian weather front. So it’s snowing on the M25, London’s hateful orbital motorway. I’m not even at Paragon and I’m thinking of calling it all off: the motorway gantry signs are warning of severe weather and not to travel unless it’s essential.
I’m not sure ‘wanting to drive a 996 GT2’ counts as fulfilling that criteria, but I figure it’s worth pushing on as I’ve yet to receive a call from photographer Rich Pearce saying otherwise. Oddly, within 20 miles of Paragon’s Sussex location I enter something of a weather oasis, with bright sunshine and no clouds. Perhaps the Beast from the East is fearful of what’s in Paragon’s showroom; after all, the GT2 has something of a reputation. Rightfully, or wrongly, I’m still hoping to find out, and arriving at Paragon I’m immediately struck at how subtle it is.
My last GT2 experience was with the new one, the 991 GT2 RS, on UK roads for these very pages, and the figures the current car produces makes those of its ancestor look relatively mild. For the record, the 3.6-litre turbocharged flat six engine delivers 462bhp and 620Nm of torque. That’s enough for a 4.1 second 0-62mph time, a 195mph top speed and the sort of top-dog status in the early millennium that helped cement the GT2’s legend. Consider that a current 991.2 Carrera GTS develops within 10bhp of that maximum output and weighs only a few kilograms more and you could be hoodwinked into thinking that the 996 GT2 isn’t quite the menace the contemporary tests made it out to be.
That impression is further enhanced by the GT2’s comparatively meek looks, particularly compared to the somewhat overt current model. Based on a 996 Turbo it’s familiar, though GT2 spotters will appreciate the differing front bumper with its top vent, sizeable air intakes either side and more pronounced lower lip with its black leading edge. There are differing lower sills punctuated by alloy wheels which would usually wear GT2 wheel caps – this car instead favouring some stealthier Porsche crests – while there are punctured wings like its 996 Turbo relative. The fixed rear wing is the most obvious change over its Turbo brethren, coming in carbon if Clubsport was specified, saving as much as 2.8kg over the standard item.
The uprights that hold it aloft at the rear are structured as intakes, helping feed cooling, life-giving air to the 3.6-litre turbocharged flat six that resides under the engine cover. If you prised the badge off its rear the GT2 could pass as an aero-enhanced 911 to the uninitiated. That’s arguably a good thing, allowing the 996 GT2 to pass without attracting too much attention. That’s particularly true with Paragon’s immaculate example, painted in Polar silver: the original owner obviously didn’t plan any track activity and negated ticking that Clubsport option. There’s no cage, and the seats are black leather-covered sports items rather than cloth buckets.
To read the full article, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 165 in shops now or get it delivered directly to you here.