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Old 02-25-2008, 06:05 PM   #1
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Default GT-R review by a once skeptical 997GT3 owner...

Here's a direct link to the thread & more pics:

Today truly was a privilege as I made real an ambition that had been brewing for a number of years.

After Ben Linney (GT Culture) kindly invited me to his abode today, I really was looking forward to seeing the GTR in the flesh for the first time. I'd passed up many opportunities recently to see the car face to face, either in Tokyo or in more local arenas. I'd brushed alongside them many times on the ring during their testing, but never seen one in production trim. Today was an opportunity to finally put to rest my opinion on its aesthetics and hope to grab a ride as a passenger.

As an owner of a 997GT3, I have treated the arrival of the GTR with mixed emotions. Porsche have continually provided its userbase with cars that are exciting, reliable and extremely capable, so I knew if the GTR was to succeed in any way (at least, at a subjective, personal level), it needed to be VERY special indeed. The car market is such at the moment where the benchmarks are very high with a plethora of models available at that price range.

Driving down the country lane where Ben resides, it was only the massive streak of white I passed tucked behind a high wall and bushes that made me slam on my brakes and reverse back up the road. Standing proud in front of the house, there's no questioning its imposing stance. Butch, squat, wide and fat, it has the presence of an angry gorilla.

It is big, no doubt. But it's no bigger, at least by first impressions, than the R34 was. In fact, the R34's boot gave it a slightly elongated look. The 35 by comparison is clean in design and sharp in detail. I figured out what gave it its big look, it's those wheels - they are absolutely huge and are further accentuated by the dark metallic finish, the whole area around the wheels are lost in shadow.

Looking at both cars from the rear, itís clear that the GTR wears its size with pride as it makes no attempt to disguise its high back end. In fact, with the boot-line ending high up, it appears to be an exaggerated design feature. It has a look of a space shuttle about it. The GT3 next to it was positively dwarfed. However, the GT3 rides a lot lower as some of the photos show and were it not for the non-existent gap between tyre and wing, Iíd say there was a few inches one could lose from the ride height of the GTR.

Iím still not convinced by the interior. As much as anyone would deny it, itís only really when you sit inside you can see that it is Ďonlyí a £60k car. An Audi R8 puts it to little shame, although some may argue the R8 is over designed. Still, weíre talking about a car that costs £30k more at the moment. Despite the budget switchgear, I still donít like the way the centre console seems to have an air of arbitrary placement about it. No real thought seems to have been placed on the location of the consoles and it doesnít quite gel together. Gran Turismo dials do give it some credibility though and I look forward to hours of fun tinkering with the touch screen display.

I ask Ben if he plans on ever getting the car dirty by way of hinting for a ride. Next I know heís sitting in the passenger seat and Iím beckoned into the hot seat. Now, Iíve been given the keys to a lot of cars Ė everything from Ferraris to Lamborghinis to every kind of Porsche model made (including GuyRís 600BHP Ruf). I almost always say no because this kind of thing always ends in tears, but for once in my life I make an exception Ė there is no way on earth any man would pass up this opportunity.

The GTR has keyless start with the fob needed only in close vicinity for the Start button to be active. Once pressed, Iím overly surprised by what is a very mechanical and certainly menacing engine bark. Strangely emanating from the rear too. I half expected a more electronic feel to this car but the presence of a nuts and bolts car canít be denied and Iím pleased by this minor observation.

It sounds great and shows a lot of promise. Iíd hyped the car up so much myself (no thanks to the massive positive press lately) that I was afraid it just couldnít match my expectations.

Press the button on the gear leaver and slot into D, release the brake and the car creeps forward. An overly enthusiastic prod of the throttle sends the car leaping forward Ė holy cow that throttle is so sensitive! A little more discretion this time as a feathered massage is all that is required. Last thing I want right now is to launch Benís spaceship into the Oak tree right in front of us that seems to be mocking me.

ďDoes the front ground?Ē I ask as we pull out of his drive. ďNo, itís quite highĒ replies Ben, and heís quite right, it clears with plenty to spare. Pulled out of his drive, Iím impressed by the low speed weight of the steering and Iím so absorbed by the comfort and intimacy of what is a very cosy environment, Iím suddenly shocked to see the gear indicator showing [6]! Have I had a black out, or has this car just gone through all 6 gears in 10 seconds without a hint of ever having done so? I suspect this transmission is going to be quite the toy.

A few km later and Iím really enjoying the ride. Itís firm, taut and incredibly resolved. Thereís this sense of gravity about it, but not in the manner of pure weight. It feels absorbed into the very tarmac it rides upon and I am feeling a level of assuredness only possible in a 4WD chassis Ė every corner of this car is sending a signal through my buttocks.

Ben encourages me to switch into manual mode - you can either pull the gear lever from A to M, or you can quite simply tug on one of the paddle shifts to take control. I do the latter and bring the gear down from sixth to fifth. And down to fourth and finally third. Itís perfect. Immediate, smooth, vocal Ė Iíve not seen a gearbox so awesome in my life and all of a sudden, Iím a paddle-shift convert.

ďYouíre in R mode nowĒ says Ben, his grin reminiscent of the devils own. Glancing down I see all the lights are glaring at me bright red. Solid encouragement if Iíve ever seen some.

The road suddenly clears and I have a good view so I bury the throttle and.....OMGGGG holy shit this thing is fast! I mean, REALLY fast. Porsche GT3? Forget it, doesnít have the torque. 997 Turbo? Weíll stop later and wait for it to catch up. This car is truly, sensationally fast and I have a sudden understanding when Chris Harris calls it a baby Veyron.

Any gear, any speed, press the LOL pedal and your back compresses all the layers of fat from your back, out of your ears in a way thatíll have you reciting school assembly hymns for the love of god. My fear for my license keeps me at bay Ė Iíll save the top figures for the Autobahn or the circuit.

See, this is the thing about lap times. Essentially, nobody gives a shit as the real world performance of a car is infinitely more relevant. That means in-gear times, torque, throttle response Ė in this context, the 997 TT is simply playing catch up.

And the car handles it with consummate ease with its trick suspension and 4WD super chassis doing an incredible job of telling Einstein that all his theories were wrong and in fact weíve been studying the wrong laws of physics. Itís true, the GTR demonstrated that E most definitely doesnít equal MC squared. How else can a car with 1700KG appear to be so lithe and nimble, so fast and manoeuvrable? That apple was rotten, Newton.

Itís a focused driverís machine, no doubt. Itís so ridiculously fast I suspect each squish of the throttle will do nothing but fuel an addiction that will have you institutionalised in some form or another.

Oh another thing, this car is not for the discreet. If you enjoy the Hollywood lifestyle, or at least aspire to it, then this is the quickest way of buying into fame. Everyone stares Ė give this car a few more months exposure and itíll be monumental. In white, youíre the messiah, returned. With a Mr T haircut.

I give Ben the keys to my car and encourage him to take advantage of the GT3. Iíll leave it for Ben to tell that story, but he appears to have huge fun as you can see by the picture smile.gif. As I get back into my car, I am by no means ready to dismiss it. Itís a totally different car. The GT3 I suspect is still the king of the circuit based on its infinite feedback. But for an everyday proposition that does everything you could ever want from a car, the GTR is king of the road.

Iím hoping to be one of the first in the country with a UK car, todayís drive was the carrot at the end of the stick and I cannot wait for my car to arrive.

Iím sat here at home writing this and the single memory I canít shake is the sheer power of this car.

I just wish I could afford to keep both the GT3 and the GTR, in their own disciplines, theyíre both unbeatable.

Thanks again Ben, a privilege indeed!
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Old 02-25-2008, 06:29 PM   #2
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If I remember correctly, this is the same owner of the GTR that is in the UK Car magazine video we saw last week.
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Old 02-25-2008, 09:00 PM   #3
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That's a very nice read. That gets me even more excited about getting it.
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