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Car of the Year 2002: 4th Place Porsche 911 GT2

J.P. Vettraino

To the faithful, the 911 GT2 is more the true Porsche than any other model. Simply put, the GT2 is not as sanitized for our protection.

The 911 GT2 weighs 220 pounds less than the Turbo and benefits from 10 percent more power. More significantly, the GT2 spurns frivolous, sissy stuff such as all-wheel drive and electronic chassis stability management, and the distinction is oh-so-important. This beast is mean.

The GT2 is the most powerful production Porsche ever, surpassing even the mighty 959 supercar of the late 1980s. With 457 hp, its power-to-weight ratio—the best single indicator of a car’s performance potential —exceeds anything you will find this side of a major-league racing series. It will reach 60 mph from stop in less than four seconds and has a top speed of 195 mph.

Yet the real issue has little to do with numbers. The GT2 is about the relationship between driver and machine, with no filters in between. Go hard into a corner, and the GT2 feels a bit skittish. Its front tires grab at every imperfection in the pavement; its steering demands constant, slight corrections. Get it wrong in the 911 Turbo, and the antiskid electronics will help bail you out. In the GT2, there are only the driver’s wits and his left foot to manage the power flowing to its massive rear tires. Tease this beast too aggressively, and it will bite.

This is not a luxury car. Essential equipment—air-conditioning, power windows, CD player, and a full complement of airbags—remains, and you can select cruise control if you desire. But many superfluous items, including the 2+2 rear seat, are stripped to save weight. The ride is bouncy and stiff, and the cabin noisy by luxury-car standards. Those who appreciate this machine will find adequate compensation in the symphonic howl of a Porsche boxer engine at full song.

The GT2 grows from the philosophy that less is more, and at $179,900, it costs $64,500 more than the 911 Turbo. Porsche will produce only 250 this year.

This is the Porsche for serious thrills, the rest be damned. Porsche loyalists—those who believe the 550 Spyder that immortalized James Dean is the coolest car ever made—figure that’s the way it should be. We are inclined to agree.

Specifications

Engine: 3.6-liter, 4-cam turbocharged horizontally opposed six
Power: 462 hp at 5,700 rpm
Torque: 457 ft lbs at 3,800 rpm
Zero-to-60 time: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 195 mph
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 91.8 inches
Curb weight: 3,175 pounds
Base price: $179,900

Second Opinions
“For those enthusiasts who like their power raw and loud, with styling that is pretty straightforward yet shrieks of enormous speed.” —Paul Dean

“Its name evokes a smile, and a single glance makes you feel as though you are in motion.” —Paul A. Eisenstein

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