Recently I have been getting a lot of seat time in both the Porsche 911 (997.2) GT3 RS ( Our Porsche 911 GT3 RS ) and the McLaren 675LT Spider ( The Brilliant McLaren 675LT Spider ) in the mountains of Montana. On paper, both are the lightweight, track focused versions of the base 911 and 650S models respectively. Comparing the two, they could not be more different to drive. While both are hugely engaging, how they deliver performance and what they demand from the driver differs significantly.
The first time I drove our McLaren 675LT Spider I got out thinking this was the best car McLaren had built. It felt incredibly well put together and I was comfortable driving it hard very quickly. Confidence inspiring does not even begin to sum it up. The 675LT Spider does exactly what you ask of it, instantly. The car just sticks to the road and the steering is perfectly weighted. You feel like the 675LT Spider is wrapped around you and lets you know exactly what it is doing at all times. It is an easy car to drive fast and it is also quite easy to end up going much faster than you think you are. For a light weight track focused car, the 675LT Spider is exceptionally comfortable and well equipped. Highly sophisticated and polished are two words I would use to describe the 675LT Spider.
If the 675LT Spider is polished, the 911 (997.2) GT3 RS is raw. From the moment you turn the key to the right, it is a loud, vibrating, ball of muscle. Sound deadening in the cabin is minimal, if it exists at all. The clutch is heavy and very exact. The stick shift is stiff and deliberate. It is not one that you stir lazily with your wrist. Changing gears in the GT3 RS is a full arm exercise. The racing buckets wrap around you and keep you firmly planted behind the wheel. Driving the GT3 RS requires a high degree of concentration and driving it hard, requires a fair amount of skill. While the GT3 RS has huge amounts of grip, you never forget that it will bite you quickly if you get it wrong.
Driving the 675LT Spider and 911 GT3 RS back to back over the same roads really highlights the difference between the two cars. On a tight demanding mountain road, rapid progress in the 675LT Spider comes smoothly and with minimal physical effort ( 675LT in Montana) Your hands never move off the steering wheel. Going around a corner, the 675LT Spider stays perfectly flat and there is no feeling of weight moving around behind you. Gear changes are executed with a single flick of the index and middle fingers. A quick short pivot on the heel of your right foot moves you from the accelerator to the brake. Turbo lag is minimal and power is very linear from 2000 rpms right up to the redline. The 675LT Spider feels glued to the pavement and corners on rails. I have never had the rear move out of line.
The 911 GT3 RS requires much harder work to get the best out of it ( GT3 RS in the Mountains). Your right hand is constantly moving from the steering wheel to the gear shift. The clutch is not of the forgiving type so getting the timing right between right hand and left foot is critical. The GT3 RS feels much higher strung so you really feel like you have to be on top of it at all times. Corners are definitely slow in, fast out. You can feel a very slight bit of body roll and you know the engine is hung off the back axle. Power delivery is also very different. Below 4000 rpm, it feels a bit lazy, once you get it into the 5000 rpm and up range, it just flies.
My completely unscientific estimate is that on the same road in the same conditions, I will tend to drive the 675LT Spider about 5 mph faster than the GT3 RS. I put this down completely down too ease of drivability and not at all related to a difference in capability between the two cars. Both are well within their capabilities and have plenty more to give. In many ways I would say that the GT3 RS teaches me to be a better driver because it is constantly asking more from me. On the other hand, the 675LT Spider makes me a more confident driver and just puts a huge smile on my face every time I take it out. Together they are a great diverse pair.
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