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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Frighteningly fast: behind the wheel of the quickest ever Porsche 911   

We celebrate the German carmaker's 70th birthday via its most mind-bendingly quick models

Fear is a healthy emotion when faced with the quickest Porsche 911 in history. Previous incarnations of the rear-wheel-drive 911 GT2 RS earned the model a frightening reputation for swapping ends and making lethally close acquittance with nearby inanimate objects. In the past, it hasn’t been a car for the overly cocksure, and no mistake.

An appropriate lack of hubris, then, is required to approach the 2018 GT2 RS, given that it trumps all that has gone before it, with a fittingly fearsome set of statistics, not least that it will hit 100kph from idling in an eye-blink 2.8 seconds. Yet despite beads of sweat forming on my brow – and nape of my neck, both hands and just about everywhere else – this needs to be done. I’m in Porsche’s home city, Stuttgart, and there can be no more fitting way to celebrate the feted German sports-car manufacturer’s 70th anniversary than by jumping in a handful of the fastest cars it has ever produced. After all, Porsche and speed have been intimate since 1948, a relationship consummated 15 years later with the arrival of the 911, its most celebrated and longest-running model.

Things have certainly come a long way in seven decades, since Porsche’s debut production car, the 356, was cruelly derided by many as a Volkswagen with a new badge – founder Ferdinand Porsche was also the original Beetle’s lead engineer. Fast-forward to 2018, however, and that car is an indisputable classic and the 911 revels in countless generations and variants, although the observant will note that Porsche today operates under the VW Group umbrella.

That said, there isn’t a single Volkswagen in existence that springs to mind when you turn the GT2 RS’s key and hear its 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged, flat-six-cylinder engine create a mild cataclysm. Sorry Stuttgart, it’s 9am and you can forget about any lie-ins. This is a Dh1 million Porsche, so excuse us if it wants to shout about itself, real loudly.

As you might expect, the GT2 RS possesses all the pin-you-to-your-seat forward momentum of a road-going track car with a mighty 700hp and 750Nm of torque going to 21-inch rear wheels, beneath a gratuitous rear wing wouldn’t look out of place on an airplane. Your money will be safe should you slap a Dh100 note on the dashboard and invite your passenger to grab it while simultaneously doing your worst to the throttle. Really push things and you can smash 200kph in 8.3 seconds, before dashing on to a truly lunatic-level 340kph.

There’s no doubt, either, that you’re wise to make sure it’s pointing in a straight line before attempting to detonate all that raw power. What the GT2 RS isn’t quite – and this is some straight-up witchcraft – is intimidatingly unhinged, on the roads, at least. It should be noted that this being Germany, public-highway speeds includes limit-free sections of the country’s autobahns. Don’t give in to the temptation of pressing the single button that will disengage both the electronic stability control and traction control, and you should live to see another day.

The Black Forest’s twisting turns are where the true fun is at, mind you. On tarmac of sometimes uneven quality, you feel every minute undulation through the GT2 RS’s stoically stiff ride, with the amount of feedback directed through the steering wheel hugely reassuring in such a highly powered machine. The brakes occasionally require a little more stomping than feels reassuring, but the GT2 RS I am in does already have 15,000 kilometres on the clock, during which time you would imagine it has endured test-driver punishment that many cars wouldn’t suffer in 10 times the distance.

It might seem impossible to experience more petrol-combusting enjoyment from the driver’s seat a 911, until the next car I get my hands and, perhaps just as importantly, feet on challenges that notion. The GT3 Touring makes do with a modest retractable spoiler and none of the carbon-fibre addendum of its more expensive sibling, but its six-speed manual gearbox is a high-revving joy.

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After those contrasting experiences, you could almost become blasé about taking the wheel of the GT3 and GT3 RS, the other two monsters in my personal Porsche arsenal. Don’t be fooled: both can still bite off a metaphorical hand if not afforded the respect actively demanded by sports cars with 500hp and 520hp respectively. Not that you could exactly forget in the roll-cage-clad RS.

Porsche has already begun to embrace the electric revolution via the likes of the 918 Spyder hybrid hypercar and the battery-blasting Taycan, suggesting that the next 70 years are set to be vastly different to its first; as contrasting as the 356 is separated from the 911 GT2 RS. Whatever the source of propulsion, if the Germans replicate the rate of progress from the 135kph 356 to the 340kph GT2 RS, by 2088, we will be travelling at 850kph. Never mind 700hp – that is a genuinely scary prospect.

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