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2019 MOTOR Awards: Best Engine, Best Drivetrain, and Best Noise

By Scott Newman, 25 Dec 2019 Features

2019 MOTOR Awards Best Engine feature

Stuttgart’s engineers produce a modern masterpiece

BEST ENGINE - Porsche 991.2 911 GT3 RS

The naturally aspirated engine’s time is meant to be over, yet we live in a golden age. We have huge V12s from Ferrari and Lamborghini, screaming V10s from Audi and Lamborghini, and crisp V8s from Ford and Chevrolet, yet no engine we experienced this year was finer than the feral 4.0-litre flat-six in the back of the 991.2 GT3 RS.

Having forced buyers of the 991 GT3 RS to sacrifice 200rpm in exchange for extra torque, Porsche delivered the full 9000rpm and boosted torque further to boot. Outputs increase only incrementally to 383kW/470Nm, but to extract an extra 15kW/10Nm from an engine this highly stressed required almost a complete re-engineering.

Larger intakes in the rear guards help fill the cylinders and introduce a ram air effect at higher speeds to produce even more power. Internally there are larger diameter bearings for the crankshaft, wider conrod bearings, plasma-coated cylinder linings and a fixed valve train – the valves operated by rocker arms, the clearances set when new using shims.

Oil supply is crucial and the whole system was redesigned, with seven-stage dry-sump lubrication and motorsport technology like defoaming the oil before it is returned to the separate oil tank. Unique ECU settings control the whole show and there’s a different titanium exhaust system. As mentioned, that’s a lot of effort for relatively tiny performance gains, but it’s worth it from behind the wheel.

MOTOR review: 991.2 GT3 RS

The engine is terrifying in its intensity. Its power and torque peaks of 8250rpm and 6000rpm respectively suggest a peaky delivery, but it’s the mid-range torque that sets this latest 4.0-litre apart. It’s hugely flexible, yet the acceleration only increases as more revs arrive.

You’re almost guaranteed to initially change gears at around 7000rpm as that’s when your senses tell you it’s prudent. Instead, you’re only barely scratching the surface, for the final 2000rpm is when the engine opens its lungs and starts to scream, overwhelming your ears while the blurring scenery dares your eyes to keep up.

Porsche is historically conservative with power claims and our acceleration figures back this up. Launch control primed, it bolts off the line with the tacho needle swinging back and forth as the electronics attempt to restrain the rear tyres. It doesn’t feel like it could possibly match the brutal efficiency of the latest all-wheel drive warriors but it’s incredibly effective, 0-100km/h taking just 3.18sec, with the quarter mile coming up in 11.07sec at 203.78km/h.

What will they think of next? 

Best Drivetrain - Mercedes-AMG GT63 S

We’ve praised this car’s drivetrain before, back when we first sampled it in the E63 S. Of course it’s now adapted to the bigger five-door, but the principles remain: a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 matched to a nine-speed automatic and all-wheel drive that can deliver total grip or decouple for serious skids. Even when it now packs 470kW/900Nm.

Best Noise - Brabham BT62

Combine the aggressive sound of a Supercar, the intensity of a V8-era F1 car and the audio finesse of a modern-day supercar and you still probably aren’t imagining how good the Brabham BT62 sounds. An atmo 5.4-litre Ford-derived V8 produces a sound that’s hard to match, and inside the cabin you hear the mechanical whine of the transmission, just like a racecar.

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