Above 180mph it’s getting difficult to see where we’re going. Not the kind of thing you find yourself saying every day, but as the TECHART tuned flat six hauls hard through fifth gear and beyond, the rain lashes the windscreen even more ferociously, steadily defeating the frantic swish of the wipers on this 997. The lack of visibility is bad enough but it’s the water on the road that really leaves you puckering the seat’s leather; nasty puddles as we crest the midpoint of the runway, and a generous paddling pool in the braking zone. Later on, watching from half way along the main straight, the vapour trail of spray hangs in the air for over a mile when the car booms past at more than 180mph.
PistonHeads is at Bruntingthorpe to try find out how fast you can go in the pouring rain and our weapon of choice is the latest Porsche 997-based TECHART GT. The weather report had suggested showers but it is raining so hard you don’t need a turbocharged 911, you need an Ark. A car like this is designed to go flat out around the ‘Ring, or pierce through the air of an autobahn, not tackle a monsoon in Lutterworth, Leicestershire. The ‘GT Street’ concept was first developed for the previous 996 generation Turbo, and made its debut in 2001. This new version was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last year, and we’ve got access to the German press car in left hand drive form, in the UK for a brief tour of duty.
‘In the first instance,’ PH editor Ollie Stallwood had said, ‘try and find out how quick it is in the rain.’ Right. Considering we only have a speedo and our brains to work with it is going to be difficult enough, but then we have to do this in a downpour of biblical proportions. It wasn’t going to be easy.
I think you’ll appreciate that given the on-paper credentials of 0-62mph in just 3.4sec and 0-125mph in 11.4sec (the Tiptronic is quoted as being faster still, just like the regular car, although personal experience suggests this isn’t necessarily the case) plus a top speed recorded at Nardo of 223mph this is a very, very ‘quick’ car indeed.
Initially, Tech 9 Motorsport (official UK TECHART importer) managing director, and ex-TVR and Carrera Cup racer, Phil Hindley attempts a speed run, and with a wicked grin on his face is clearly determined to push the green monster hard (we’ll see 195mph on the speedo today, and the day after, in the dry, Phil goes on to clock a satellite-tracked true speed of 196mph). He punts the GT Street around Brunters at a fearsome velocity in spite of the conditions, the car finding an incredible amount of lateral grip as long as the water isn’t too deep. On plenty of occasions, he catches an embryonic slide with a crucial and instinctive blur of opposite lock, easily well into three figure speeds - it’s an impressive performance from both car and driver.
Later, as I splash around the circuit, what really impresses is how the car digs in above 100mph and accelerates to incredible speeds without ever seeming to run out of puff - it just keeps going and going. Even so, despite the immense performance, it still pulls cleanly and keenly from low revs, the power delivery as smooth and linear as any well-sorted road car.
The heart of this 911 interpretation is an engine kit that furnishes the flat six with the kind of squirt enjoyed by a Group C Porsche 956 in endurance spec. The quoted 621bhp (up
from 473bhp) arrives at 6,800rpm while torque swells to 605lb ft (from 457lb ft) but TECHART claims drivability was a fundamental objective of the work they’ve carried out. Known by the catchy title of ‘TA 097/T3’, the kit comprises of two new turbochargers, still using the variable vane technology that made its Porsche debut on the current production car, and a new air box and filter. There’re also new manifolds, new intercoolers and a stainless steel exhaust with high-flow sports cats. Making sense of it all is a reprogrammed engine ecu.
Of course, the work doesn’t stop there: the gear box has lengthened ratios, an additional cooler and a short shift mechanism; the PASM suspension is revised, with new springs and dampers along with altered geometry; there are 20” wheels with 245/30 ZR20 tyres on the front and staggering 325/25 ZR20s at the rear; giant six piston brakes at the front with 390mm discs (365mm/four piston at the rear), and then there are of course, the visuals to consider.
As you can see in the pictures, the kit - developed in a wind tunnel - turns the 997 into a much more aggressive and flamboyant machine, with wild slashes, intakes and an elevated rear wing. Seeing as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I won’t waffle on with my opinions, but what I will add is that it all seems to be well made and fitted, with materials that are the equal of the OE fit items. TECHART claims an increase in both downforce and cooling ability with their new bodywork, and, as Phil and Tech 9 General Manager Calvin Adams point out, if you don’t want to be such an extrovert, avoiding bright green for a more subtle hue tends to quieten things down considerably. Inside, there’s bespoke colours and stitching to lift the 997 interior, the rear seats have been taken out, and a chunky TECHART steering wheel is fitted.
It’s out on the road that I’m really interested to see how the GT Street feels, and as usual the wide-open spaces of Brunters have mugged our
senses as to what 621bhp really means. On the country roads of Leicestershire it is simply explosive, compressing your spine under the sheer ferocity of its acceleration. There’s a lot more exhaust noise, proper Porsche flat six noise, and less of the ‘Darth Vader clearing his throat’ effects that you get in a regular 997 Turbo. It really is ridiculous, but hilarious at the same time, and you genuinely have to restrict the use of continuous full throttle for ‘special occasions’.
As for the rest of the car, it’s hard to say as our time and mileage is limited. However, the changes have definitely altered the feel of the 997 Turbo. An initial impression is of a much firmer ride – this car had been set up mainly for circuit work it must be said - with less roll and pitch, and a vaguely tolerable attitude to most bumps, although it seems to get caught out once or twice. The feel of the steering is different, being lighter and more aggressive off the straight-ahead, giving the car either a more alert or nervous feel depending on your viewpoint. Leaning on the brakes reveals a nicely progressive operation to the pedal. Even in the awful conditions we faced today the GT Street remains an impressive machine, taking the weather in its stride.
So, is it worth approximately £183,000 to be an individual? That’s your call, and most TECHART owners will be buying exclusivity in a world where money doesn’t mater. If you’re after a 997 Turbo that genuinely gets attention and with a level of performance in the class above, the GT Street certainly achieves those objectives. As to whether you should consider the separate ingredients as an upgrade, it’ll come down to where you tend to use the car, and what you plan to use it for - test thoroughly before buying would be our thoughts. But if you plan to try the car in January, best take an umbrella.
Power: 621bhp at 6,800 rpm
Torque: 605lb ft at 4,500 rpm
Top speed 223mph
Price: approx £183,000 for a complete car brand new from the TECHART factory