One Furiously Blue Swan Song For Porsche's 997 911
While Las Vegas' SEMA show has been busy showing off the best and worst sides of the tuning market, we dashed to Leonberg, Germany, for a thorough taste test of this 711-horsepower TechArt GTStreet RS. If we can exaggerate a touch, about the only thing on this 911 GT2 RS-based blue meanie that is from Porsche – or not matte finish or covered in Alcantara – is its rear-view mirror. At least that's the impact it makes when you first lock eyes on it and then drive it.
Initially shown at this past September's Frankfurt Motor Show, this particular $750,000-ish GTStreet RS will eventually make its way into the roped-off garage of a very enthusiastic Chinese car nut. Lucky him.
From the already respectable 612 horsepower in the standard GT2 RS (limited to just 500 examples), the GTStreet RS leaps to 711 hp – a 16-percent bump. Torque bounds from 516 pound-feet to 664 lb-ft. – an increase of more than 25 percent. Techart's premium tuning job creates no less than a racing Weissach wagen for the street, something for which this entire area around southwest Germany is renowned.
Despite our tester's attention-grabbing color, the GTStreet RS is quite traditional in many ways. For example, Porsche's short-throw six-speed manual has been left untouched. Similarly unaltered is the war-like single mass flywheel that doesn't stop rattling in its cage until you get the clutch pedal all the way to the floor. That TechArt-fettled clutch, about 9.1 inches in diameter, has had its surfacing altered and hardened even further to deal with the greater stresses of launching this beast.
It's also very, very blue. Right down to the paint on its clubsport half roll cage, there's clearly a theme. Its creators call it Sky Blue, but you all can go right ahead, cave in to the temptation and call it Smurf Blue – we won't. We would never stoop so low and risk taking anything away from the exceptional qualities of this bespoke RS. Besides, Smurf Blue would be a tick darker, and there'd be a little white floppy cap on the roof.
Accelerating hard from a standstill, it feels like all the skin on one's head is trying to flee the face and pile up on the headrest. This retina-separating sensation had us addicted to lighting up the 20-inch Michelin Pilot Sport Cup+ tires (245/30 90Y front and 315/25 99Y rear). The already unbelievable handling of the stock GT2 RS has been augmented to the point where it's almost impossible to conceive, the happy outcome of an additional 3.2 inches of track up front (thanks to the offset of the TechArt Formula Race wheels) and 4.0 additional inches at the rear axle. That added width, along with new springs all around that lower the chassis four-tenths of an inch, results in prodigious grip.
Fortunately, we had a decommissioned airfield near Stuttgart at our disposal for the day, so the 2.6 turns lock-to-lock of the Alcantara-bathed steering wheel could be experimented with non-stop in ways you just can't do on public roads. On the slightly porous yet smooth surface of the tarmac, it was nearly impossible to make the GTStreet RS lose concentration on its trajectory, even with the Traction Control and Stability Control OFF button lit. At moments like this, eerie thoughts of invincibility can creep in all too quickly.
We are less in love with the droopy automated rear wing of the Porsche GT2 than we are with the gorgeous spectacle put on by the GT3's wing. TechArt and their client are to be applauded for thinking likewise, having gone and fitted this custom 55-inch carbon fiber master of rear downforce. The blade is adjustable in height over a 1.6-inch range and was set at a default midpoint for our test day. Again, the sucked-to-the-pavement feeling it offers at speed is not to be believed. Between the wing and the hard-working mechanical rear limited slip differential, it's impossible not to long for a suitable track to really explore its potential.
The GTStreet's brakeset remains Porsche's lauded PCCB, sized 15.0 inches front/13.8 inches rear. It offers more than enough stopping power for this 3,185-pound hound. And with the two heavily modified variable-turbine geometry turbochargers whipping up 26.1 pounds of maximum boost apiece, the driver needs these carbon ceramic stoppers like never before. After much judicious pedal hammering, we grew to appreciate all of the work Porsche's engineers have put into establishing just the right feel. At the same time, pedal placement allows for easy heel-and-toe. We could see 60 mph arriving at less than three seconds from a standstill, but the manual shifter and rear traction probably relegates it to a hair over that. Top speed on the Nürburgring Nordschleife's Döttinger Höhe final long straight reaches an unofficial 217 mph.
Despite being fitted with higher flow-through stainless steel exhaust manifolds and pipes, Porsche's famed 3.6-liter flat-six still sounds like the world's most powerful Shop-Vac. We've long wanted a meatier sound to leap forth from the 911 family, but all we ever get is a raspy forced-air hurricane. With the Sport button lit, the sound inside gets correct and deep, but outside, little changes. Maybe the 991 next-gen 911 will learn to sing more notes.
TechArt knows Porsche like few others, and they've been at it for ages. These days, their interior work features as prominently as their powertrain tuning and there's a tendency to err on the side of Alcantara overkill, but as our hosts reminded us, "The customer is king in the end." Look at the quilted roof and even the inner side of the front hood. All has been done gorgeously, but... c'mon. The entire interior has been redone by TechArt in-house in Leonberg, and we could happily snooze away an afternoon in their one-piece carbon fiber sport seats. Instrument dials are TechArt pieces, as are the recovered gearshift and handbrake, the outer portion of the steering wheel, and, of course, all the "GTStreet RS" placards and embroidery. Don't ask us what the customer's "Ting & Tiger – One of One" is getting at. To each their own.
Back outdoors, the carbon fiber hood works with the front fascia to guide air more efficiently. All-in, this car's coefficient of drag is just a bit better than the standard Porsche's 0.34 Cd – this, despite the added downforce front and rear. Its front fender panels have also been rendered in carbon fiber, while the rear engine hood is in fiberglass. To help with driveway inclines and speed bumps, the front Vario suspension fitted by TechArt employs hydraulic lifters that bring that chin spoiler up about 2.5 inches – an excellent move for a low-down expensive car in a big shoulders world.
This customer car was not allowed on public roads for obvious reasons, but our artificially liberating airfield allowed us to play almost without fear. Even so, the entire package is insane, and a 911 of this caliber set loose can be frightening, as its front end can get spooky light. All of which forces the driver to be at his very best, drawing on every single track day instruction session and weekend race experience just to keep things cool.
As a swan song to Porsche's 997 generation, TechArt has formulated a right and proper send-off for those in the dough. Our recommendation? Try and avoid the super-saturated overuse of cartoon colors when ordering yours.