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Porsche 911 GT2 RS: Performance Car of the Year 2019 - Winner

By Scott Newman | Photos: Ellen dewar/Alastair brook, 12 Mar 2019 Performance COTY

Porsche 911 GT2 RS: Performance Car of the Year 2019 - Winner

The GT2 RS had the weight of expectation and a mega price tag to overcome, but the ultimate 911 bewitched all to claim the title

The 2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS is MOTOR’s 2019 Performance Car of the Year. It’s so fast, so potent and so powerful that it not only beat 10 of the finest performance cars on-sale today, it beat democracy itself.

As you might have deduced, three of the five judges put the BMW M2 Competition atop their lists, but the Porsche scored highest overall. Cue much head scratching. In the end, the Porsche got the nod as the overall winner because it was no lower than second on any judge’s ballot, whereas the M2 scored three firsts, a second and a fifth. That means across five judges the GT2 RS had an average score of 1.6, whereas the M2’s average was 2. Porsche wins.

Though I did not personally vote for the Porsche, it takes only a glance at the numbers to know that it’s a worthy winner. Simply put, PCOTY has never seen anything like the GT2 RS. Neither have the judges.

Rick Kelly put it best: “It’s the only time I have felt acceleration that’s better than my Supercar.” Then again, that shouldn’t be a surprise, as this ultimate 911 has an almost identical power-to-weight ratio to Rick’s Nissan Altima with even more torque.

In terms of outright performance, the GT2 RS blew the other contenders to smithereens. It was 0.44sec quicker to 100km/h than the second-placed R8 RWS, yet was merely warming up. Once rolling, the Porsche was gone.

Its 10.63sec quarter mile is the lowest number we’ve ever recorded, while its 220.85km/h trap speed is the highest. Its 1.5sec 80-120km/h effort is essentially time travel, while no production car we’ve experienced stops better, the GT2 RS pulling up from 100km/h in 30.12m. The scary part? It could’ve gone even quicker. With more grip the 2.8sec 0-100km/h claim is surely achievable while a number of runs resulted in 225-226km/h trap speeds.

But the GT2 RS isn’t a Dodge Demon, it’s more concerned with corners than the straight bits in between. In a mere 3.41km the Porsche pulled 3.3sec on the second-best AMG GT C, itself an outstanding circuit performer. A Hyundai i30 N is no slouch – by most standards it’s a reasonably quick car – yet the GT2 RS was 13.3 seconds quicker around The Bend’s West Circuit.

Yet PCOTY never has and never will be about pure numbers. If it was we could simply select the winner from a spec sheet and save a lot of time and money. A PCOTY winner has to set the performance benchmarks in its segment, yet also be useable and enjoyable as a road car.

The most remarkable aspect of the 911 GT2 RS is its friendliness. It has that uncanny Porsche knack of enough initial compliance to absorb the majority of bumps while retaining ruthless body control on gnarlier roads.

On very bumpy tarmac it struggles, hopping and skipping and triggering the unusually conservative traction control. Porsche’s motorsport models haven’t adopted the standard cars’ ‘Sport ESP’ setting and while it’s not a huge issue in the GT3, the enormous torque of the GT2 RS results in almost constant electronic intervention with the aids engaged, yet deactivating them on the public road is potentially brave or foolhardy in a car this fast and expensive. Owners might aspire to being Walter Rohrl, but are unlikely to possess the same level of driving talent.

You don’t need to be driving a GT2 RS quickly for it to be an event. The theatre starts from the moment you turn the key, the 515kW/750Nm 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six erupting with a bassy explosion unlike any boosted Porsche engine that hasn’t been strapped into the back of a Le Mans car.

The dual-clutch ’box and light steering make it undemanding to drive, but it’s also the noisiest car any of the PCOTY judges have ever experienced.

Road noise is an issue in most 911s, but the enormous Michelin Cup tyres on the GT2 RS thrum so loudly at speed that conversation is a challenge. There’s so little sound deadening that you can clearly hear the turbos exhaling, the brake pads gripping the discs and the gearbox swapping cogs.

This sonic symphony, as well as the way the steering gently dances in your hands over bumps, means you don’t have to be driving a million miles an hour to be entertained in a GT2 RS, though Morley is convinced the novelty would soon wear off. Whatever you do, don’t touch the exhaust button on the open road, the resulting din is enough to give you a headache in a matter of moments.

But a matter of moments is also all it takes for the GT2 RS to comprehensively blow your mind. The expectations are so high that you don’t want to spoil it by immediately flattening the throttle, like holding off opening all your Christmas presents at once.

However, like that one day in December, the concept of delayed gratification is quickly thrown in the bin and the accelerator is pressed to the floor. You can catch a GT2 RS off-boost, but it almost has to be deliberate; more often than not Frankenstein’s 911 hesitates for a fraction of a second before rearranging your internal organs.

It’s not quite as violently accelerative as a McLaren 720S, but that’s like saying it’s slightly less painful getting kicked in the face by Jackie Chan than Jet Li. You’re almost guaranteed to blurt out a four-letter word as the tacho rips around to 7000rpm, and another one as the rate of acceleration refuses to slow.

PCOTY 2019: Track test

Down The Bend’s long main straight the GT2 clocked 270km/h and was still pulling hard. The engine has masses of power everywhere, sounds evil and is made even more potent by very short gearing – Porsche, please put this gearset in the GT3!

Anyone familiar with traditional 911 dynamics will find the GT2 RS quite shocking. The front-end bite is simply incredible and there’s so much power that even the inherent traction advantage provided by the rear-engine layout can’t stop the rear tyres being overwhelmed at will.

On the road this makes it more engaging than its naturally aspirated flat-six siblings; for all the excitement of its screaming 9000rpm redline, a GT3 needs to be driven with total commitment to truly come alive.

On track the Porsche has no equal – Rick’s biggest complaint was that it needed slicks! It refused to wear out its tyres or brakes, though the water injection did need a fill up at one stage. It also completely refutes the GT2’s widowmaker reputation.

A car this fast and powerful needs respect, but loosen the rear with the brakes, pick up the throttle with confidence and this 515kW 911 will happily sit sideways and bonfire its enormous rear tyres. Regardless of whether you’re driving to be fast or have fun, the GT2 is utterly exhilarating.

The only real problem is the price. It’s a relatively weak argument as Porsche opened the production floodgates and is still selling every GT2 RS it can build, but $645,000 (almost $800K as-tested on-road) is a crazy amount of money for a 911. As DC put it: “Porsche is charging limited-edition money for what is no longer a limited-edition car”.

Personally, as incredible as the GT2 RS is, the Turbo S that won PCOTY two years back was very nearly as capable, much more liveable and almost $250K (!) cheaper. However, almost 700bhp has a way of rendering mundane criteria like value quite redundant. If you want the ultimate performance car, this is it.

All about the drive on Performance Car of the Year 2019

The Numbers

2019 PORSCHE 911 GT2 RS SPECS:
Engine: 3800cc flat-six, DOHC, 24v, twin-turbocharged
Power: 515kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 750Nm @ 2500-4500rpm 
Weight: 1470kg
0-100km/h: 3.13sec
0-400m: 10.63sec @ 220.85km/h
The Bend lap time: 1min 24.0sec
Price: $729,930

Judge's Rank

Dylan Campbell - 2nd 
"It's so good I could weep. But man, $750K..."

Louis Cordony - 1st
"It’s better and faster than you and always will be."

David Morley - 2nd
"Where on earth is this all going to end?"

Scott Newman - 2nd
"Nuclear performance, yet so accessible. Amazing, but $200K more than a Turbo S?"

Rick Kelly - 1st
"I love this car. It’s expensive, but I’ll never forget driving it. "

PCOTY 2019 Scoring

Judges DC LC RK DM SN Total
Performance 20 18 20 20 19 97
Dynamics 20 16.5 18 19 19 92.5
Accessibility 9.5 7.5 9 9 8 42
Liveability 6.5 7 5 5 7.5 31
Value 4.5 5 5 2 5 21.5
X Factor 10 7.5 10 10 9.5 47
Total 69.5 61.5 67 65 68 331

The Data

PCOTY Hall of Fame

1996 - Porsche 911 993 Turbo
1997 - BMW E36 M3
1998 - Porsche Boxster
1999 - Porsche 911 996 Carrera
2000 - Porsche Boxster S
2001 - Nissan S15 200SX
2002 - BMW E46 M3
2003 - Porsche Boxster S
2004 - Lamborghini Gallardo
2005 - Porsche 911 997 Carrera S
2006 - Audi B7 RS4
2007 - Porsche 911 997 GT3
2008 - Porsche 911 997 GT2
2009 - Audi R8 V10/Nissan GT-R
2010 - Porsche 911 997.2 GT3 RS
2011 - Nissan GT-R
2012 - Porsche 911 991 Carrera S
2013 - Audi R8 V10 Plus
2014 - Porsche 911 991 Turbo
2015 - Porsche 911 991 GT3
2017 - Porsche 911 991.2 Turbo S
2018 - Honda Civic Type R
2019 - Porsche 911 991.2 GT2 RS