Stairway to Heaven – Porsche 911R vs Honda NSX

The hills are alive with the sound of Porsche 911R and Honda NSX as we discover a little bit of paradise atop an Austrian alp


The NSX looks forward while the 911R looks back to a simpler era

Of course we went over the Alps. Because if you have to drive a couple of sports cars from a factory in southern Germany to the Red Bull Ring in deepest Austria and fail to take in at least one Alpine pass, well, that’s a dereliction of duty. That two museums dedicated to one of those marques lie at either side of the Grossglockner Pass is nothing more than a happy coincidence.

Actually, when I say either side, what I actually mean is ‘Stuttgart” and “Gmund”. They’re 354 miles apart. I wouldn’t claim the Grossglockner is the quickest route between them, or the shortest, but having done it, I can categorically say it is the best. I measured the pleasure, so to speak. This is what we often forget to do, isn’t it? To spurn an hour here, sacrifice a gallon there, just to give ourselves better memories or a greater buzz. Or, because this is a magazine, a better story and pictures.

Ah yes, the story. Well this isn’t just an artful way of exploring the 911R’s retro-ism by following the timeline back from the modernist wonder that is the Stuttgart Museum to the marque’s birthplace in a wooden hut. Those geographical points simply give us neat places to start and finish before the track mayhem gets underway a few miles and pages further on.

No, first and foremost, my intention here, via the medium of the Porsche 911 R and Honda NSX, is to show how disparate the performance car has become in 2016, to demonstrate how broad the church is with just two cars involved, let alone the 16 extras Speed Week will eventually incorporate. Right now, they’re all homing in on the Red Bull Ring, some by delivery truck, but others demanded more. Which is why Stephen Dobie is currently 140 miles to my west on another alpine pass with a cracking quartet of hot hatches, while Jack’s eyes are probably on stalks as the F-Type SVR homes in on 200mph. I have the Grossglockner. Ergo, 1 win.

If you were to ignorantly jot down the raw facts of these two, you’d assume they were rivals – they’re similar money, have similar power and performance, carry similar amounts of people and luggage. But we know different. The NSX is a forward-looking supercar, it’s the brave new world of hybrid, an i8 with added oomph and fewer eco-tendencies – the electricity is here to improve driving, not economy. Plus it carries the badge that put the fear of God into Italy and Germany back in 1989. Which was a while back, admittedly.

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