For anyone investing in Mezger engined 996 Porsches, the GT3 RS has long been the default choice. Iconic in appearance and exceptionally rare, the 996 GT3 RS was a collectable for Porsche enthusiasts well before the current global 911 collecting phenomenon. But there are other 911s of that era produced in limited numbers that are equally collectable, just as challenging to drive, and in some ways could be more satisfying to own. We are talking, of course, about the 996 GT2 – and with both cars currently commanding the same money in the Porsche marketplace, suddenly a GT2 vs GT3 RS is a 996 showdown many serious buyers may look to ponder over. Introduced in 2001 and intended for those who felt the 996 Turbo was just too civilised, the GT2 uses essentially the same engine as the Turbo but with larger KKK K24 turbochargers.
Together with uprated intercoolers, a revised exhaust system and ECU, the maximum power increased to 468bhp. The huge torque figure of 620Nm at just 3,500rpm was all delivered to the rear wheels only and Porsche Stability Management was deleted. With the GT2 it’s all down to you. The fact that almost every 996 GT2 that I’ve seen is finished in Basalt black makes the Porsche development engineer’s nickname for the car of ‘widowmaker’ particularly apt, as we walk over to the stunning GT2 Clubsport in our pictures. Open the door and you see a hybrid of conventional 996 Turbo componentry and motorsport elements. The Clubsport specification of this car marks it out as just one of 129 right-hand-drive cars supplied to the UK. It’s rare, just a few production numbers more than the GT3 RS sitting opposite.
Wriggling down into the Clubsport seats, a glance over the shoulder shows the motorsport cage, yet looking forwards we have a leather-stitched dash, some nice optional aluminium trim components and a conventional leather-bound steering wheel, but with a large fire extinguisher in the passenger footwell. The doors have a real door handle (not the red fabric door pull) and are clad in leather. Turn the key and the GT2 engine note is significantly different to the GT3 RS, which sits with cams whirring away, gears chattering, ready to rev all the way to 8,000rpm. The RS feels tense, eager to move. The GT2 tone is far deeper, like a 60-a-day Marlboro smoker, yet with an engine note quite unlike the 996 Turbo. Like the GT3 RS, the throttle response is equally lightning quick, which is a surprise if your muscle memory is of the 996 Turbo and its heavier flywheel.
The rev counter may only read up to 6,000rpm but with peak torque developed between 3,600-4,500rpm, you’re unlikely to venture higher than 5,500rpm. Moving off, the GT2 feels more GT3 than 996 Turbo. The tight Clubsport seats that took some wriggling into now give a connection to the car, the engine vibrations drumming in between your shoulder blades. The short clutch action is heavier than both a standard 996 Turbo and the GT3 RS. It’s not as grabby as a full blown competition clutch, but there’s no denying this unit is designed to accept some serious torque. The lightweight flywheel feeling and that clutch perhaps require more attention in traffic as we rumble slowly through the market town of Malton, but as the roads clear, the GT2 begins to flow as our speed builds. Squeeze some power and there’s a superb whistle from behind as the rear squats and we’re instantly refocusing our vision a long way ahead.