A very deep pocket looking for the ultimate thrill ride
Comparable models in this class:
Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, Lamborghini Murcielago, Mercedes Benz SLR,
CLARKSTON, Mich. Piloting Porsches Carrera GT around the Waterford Hills road course felt like flying a fighter plane. With Porsche racer Craig Stanton sitting in the passenger seat as a driving coach, we dove, zoomed and banked through the turns of this tiny club track on the northern outskirts of Detroit like an aerobatic plane.
Porsche invited automotive writers to Michigan to drive the $440,000 Carrera GT plus four new Porsches: the 2005 Boxster, Boxster S, Carrera and Carrera S. Laps in the Carrera GT were dessert, and what a dessert it was.
The Carrera GT is a rolling resume for the geniuses from Stuttgart, Germany. Exotic cars live in rare air, and some of the GTs competitors include the Ferrari Enzo, Mercedes-Benz SLR and Ford GT.
The front of the body has a strong resemblance to the rest of the Porsche family. Long side scoops gulp air for the mid-mounted engine. The engine resides beneath two beautiful silver screens behind the back seat and ahead of the rear axle.
The GTs truly exotic performance zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds and top track speed of 205 miles per hour obliterates your standard frame of reference. Squeeze the throttle exiting the turn they call Big Bend, and the 605-horsepower V-10 howls down the straightaway toward its 8,000-rpm redline with a scream like a bionic banshee.
We approached the right-angle turn at the end of the straight at well over 100 mph. When it seemed impossibly late, a firm squeeze of the massive ceramic disc brakes erased speed so quickly I realized I could have waited longer to slow down. The 14.96-inch, ceramic composite discs are half the weight of steel yet more effective.
Knifing through turns is uneventful at the speeds I was capable of driving because the car is so stable and secure. Massive grip makes it feel glued to the road.
The Carrera GT starts and idles as easily as any other Porsche. The engines enormous power reserves are camouflaged by a seemingly docile personality. It can be tricky getting under way with the tiny 6.5-inch ceramic clutch and small engine flywheel, but aside from that, the GT feels similar to the 911 as long as you dont mash the throttle.
The Carrera GT has a 107.5-inch wheelbase and weighs 3,043 pounds.
Conceptually, the GT is a racecar for the street. The chassis is made from carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, and the engine is bolted directly to the chassis. The bottom of the car is shaped to control airflow under the vehicle and create downforce that keeps the car stable all the way to 200 mph. Computer-designed ducts under the body direct airflow beneath the car and create downforce that keeps its 30/70 front/rear balance even at high speeds. A small wing mounted on the rear deck rises at 75 mph to provide additional stability.
Careful aerodynamic tuning is one reason the car felt so stable on the track. The faster it goes, the more the wind pushes against the pavement.
Massive tires and wheels are another. The 19-inch front wheels are 9.5 inches wide, while the 20-inch rear wheels are 12.5 inches wide. These monster tires provide incredible grip.
Porsche assumes that people who choose this car want unadulterated performance and the feel of a racing car. Anti-lock brakes and traction control are the only electronic traction aids. Vehicle stability control is not offered.
The GT looks like a roadster, but two small hard tops snap into place over the cabin. They can be stored in the tiny front trunk. Weekend travelers will probably leave the tops on so they can fit a small amount of luggage into the trunk. Each car comes with a five-piece set of leather luggage whose color is matched to the cars interior. The luggage is designed to fit a precise place inside the vehicle.
The source of 605 horsepower is a 5.7-liter, 68-degree V-10 engine that was originally designed for racing. The all-aluminum engine has four valves per cylinder, variable intake camshaft timing and titanium connecting rods. The engine sits low in the car and is connected to a six-speed manual transmission.
Settling into the form-fitting bucket seat requires a bit of gymnastics, but once youre in place, the cockpit feels much like that of a 911. The doors are rather high, and that enhances the feeling of being deep inside the car.
Carbon fiber, leather and magnesium dominate the interior. A wider seat is also available if needed. The gearshift sits high on the center console, which curves up to the dash. The console is covered in magnesium and is engraved with the vehicles number.
Twin roll hoops behind the passenger compartment provide rollover protection. The rooftops fasten there as well.
A navigation system and Bose stereo are offered. Air conditioning is standard.
The Carrera GT is Porsches way of saying that it can build a car capable of challenging the best in the world. Cars of this magnitude come along only every decade or so, and having a chance to drive a piece of automotive history is priceless.