The 700 Club

Also from Issue 183

  • Road Test: 2010 GT3 RS
  • 2010 Nürburgring 24-hour Preview
  • 911T 2.2 vs. 911E 2.2 vs. 911S 2.2
  • Rare Type 597 Jagdwagen Driven
  • Interview: Porsche CEO Michael Macht
  • 918 Spyder Hybrid Preview
  • Tuned 993 Turbo Takes on 997 Turbos
  • 997S PDK Racer
  • Market Update: 356 and 912
  • 12 Hours of Sebring 2010
  • Boxster Spec Racing
  • Project 914 3.6: Reassembly
  • Cheap 986/996 Remote Key Fix
  • Tech Forum: IMS Replacement, Prt 1
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Shifting in the 750R is noteworthy for another reason: its short-shift kit. The concept of speeding up shifts by shortening the physical movement of the stick seems a good one at first blush. It feels good, too. But in execution, especially with street-car transmissions in a track setting, the transmission itself turns out to be the limiting factor. Notes Murry: “The shorter shift loses feel of where the gate is, and it ends up being harder on the gearbox and really no faster.” Murry’s best lap in the 750R? A 2:06.499.

On the track, TPC specifies Sport off, PASM stiff, and PSM on. So from the outset, we are destined for a different experience. Exiting pit lane, the first thing noticed is power delivery. Here, the TPC Turbo comes out on top. Says Murry: “I never had to worry about the boost giving more power than I called for. It was so subtle I could drive the car and not worry about when the power was going to explode. It just didn’t.”

For all its power, there is little turbo lag in the 775B, and the flow of torque is controlled and consistent, building gradually with revs — evidence that a lot of work went into the ECU mapping. In the upper range, even when it feels like it’s time to shift, the 775B just keeps pulling. And shifting the car feels just like Porsche designed it, with longer throws and easy-to-find gates resulting in confident shifts.

Speed and power are only part of the track equation, though. Stability, braking, and overall handling are the components that inspire speed and ultimately provide the confidence to push outside the traction circle. The 775B is great on its brakes. The pedal is solid and doesn’t seem to lose anything during a three- to four-lap stint. This gives the driver confidence to carry the brake point to the limit and push that much harder.

The 775B is easy, and tele­graphs every signal before making a change. In contrast to the 750R, this 997 Turbo is very good over VIR’s bumps, maintaining better grip. It’s also easy to slip at the desired angle through the corners, maintaining your line and picking up speed through the turn. That means speed can be carried deeper into the corners, too, without having to focus as much on driving the rear of the car. Clearly, Murry is impressed: “The more power a car has, the harder this is to accomplish.” A high compliment, and part of why he was able to turn a best lap of 2:03.405 in the 775B.

At the track, Murry and I agree: TPC’s 775B takes it — and not just because of the faster lap. No, it’s because of its better level of driver comfort at the limits.

So, which one? If your primary interest is street use, you can’t go wrong with either car, though we’ll give a slight nod to AWE’s 750R for its fun factor and more engaging experience. If your interests lie at the track — or if you are looking for a clear dual-purpose car — the TPC 750R is a better-rounded package thanks to its smoother power delivery and confidence-inspiring handling.

As for the price of taking a 997 Turbo to 700 horsepower? Both AWE and TPC charge roughly $23,000 for the privelege (the AWE parts run $20,326, plus $2,645 worth of installation while the TPC setup goes for $21,500 plus installation). That’s a lot of coin — on top of a car that came with a six-figure price tag when new and trades in the high fives used. On the other hand, just ten years ago there were only a handful of circuit-racing cars with the kind of horsepower these road cars churn out. Some would argue the same is true even today. In either case, there’s no possibility of driving such a race car on the street, and certainly not in the do-anything comfort of a modern Turbo.

Yet here are two factory 911s with bolt-on kits and 700 horsepower which, on the street, are every bit as docile and comfortable as a stocker. Just remember: When you first push the gas pedal to the floor, we recommend heeding Levitas’ warning: “Don’t disengage PSM.”

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