You’d think a C6 Z06 with 600-odd horsepower, Bilstein MDS shocks, BBS wheels, and Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires wouldn’t have any problem shoving a fifteen-year-old Porsche Turbo aside and storming by. Well, the 996 Turbo has a way of holding its own despite the way technology has progressed since the turn of the century, but it’s still a tricky car to manage and demonstrates that in great style.
The bargain performance Porsche is receptive to tuning, and this mildly-tweaked version makes a healthy 450 horsepower at all four tires. It’s also got a way of delivering that power that makes it staggeringly quick out of the slower corners—quicker than the more powerful Corvette, surely. Having the traction advantage in the slower stuff does help on the first half of the Nordschleife, but it only tells half the story.
The Porsche can do more than put the power down without a hint of wheelspin. The softly-sprung Porsche changes direction quickly, and its owner understands the limitations of a 911. Avoiding the inherent understeer and making an abrupt direction change at Adenauer Forst (2:57), he gets the push-prone Porsche on a straight line earlier to take advantage of the torque and the traction. It’s shimmying over bumps and undulations, it rarely looks relaxed, and he’s deliberately throwing the thing around to force it to turn.
The two do an excellent job of scything through traffic, and as they make their way past the Karussell, the faster corners and bumps on the circuit help show the differences between the Corvette and the Porsche. The 996 Turbo is still a fidgety machine when speeds increase; those bobbles at 5:57 and 7:24 are spectacular, and they might make the driver might feel like a hero, but it’s hard to have total confidence in your car when that happens. If it’s not slower, it is very tiring—but part of the challenge with 911s is you have to work with that regular movement at both axles.
The Corvette is, in comparison, much more composed and compliant, and, despite that long hood making it a tricky thing to place, the ‘Vette might be the car for fourth-gear sweepers that ask you to trust the car. As the Porsche is not only thrown around by its exuberant driver, but is pulled and pushed by the cambers and curbs, its not the most reassuring thing to be in. However, it’s alive, wild, and not as anodyne as people often make it out to be.
Traction, power, and gusto aside, what this video demonstrates is how far body control has come in the last two decades. Cars these days simply soak up the bumps, move less within themselves, and seem less agitated by surface changes. These all amount to added feelings of confidence behind the wheel. It’s no wonder we have the ability to make good use of 600 horsepower these days, which used to be a terrifying amount! Nowadays, you hardly bat an eyelash at those numbers.