In a modern-day portrayal of David Versus Goliath, the supercharged Elise can’t help but get the underdog vote. When put up against the fearsome Porsche 996 GT2 Clubsport, it’s easy to assume that power and outright grip might lose out to the agility and daring driving style of the Elise and its driver. After all, these battles have been seen many times before.
The track has to be taken into account before we arrive at any hasty judgments. Le Mans has long straights, and a series of harrowing, super-fast corners named after Porsche, where the GT2 and its big torque can flourish. The Clubsport version of this car has the same power output as the standard GT2, which is a whopping 475 hp at 5700 rpm and 457 lb/ft at 3500 rpm, but the Clubsport features a single-mass flywheel to help the revs of the 3.6-liter motor rise more quickly. Porsche further reduced weight with a carbon fiber hood and trunk. The important points are that this car weighs in at a mere 3,000 pounds, and is capable of nudging 205 mph out of the box. The Clubsport also boasts a full of half rollcage, a six-point harness, a fire extinguisher, reinforced doors, and carbon-backed, GT3 seats covered in fire-resistant cloth. Clearly, this car is no executive’s cruiser.
The GT2 is no slouch in the braking department; ceramics brakes as standard and that massive, GT3 Cup wing at the rear end, which is not stock, keeping it planted well-enough to overtake the Elise and still carry good mid-corner speed. Listening to the Lotus’ motor and watching the Porsche’s brake lights at 1:03, it seems the 911 can get on the throttle just as early as the featherweight Elise. Even with a bit of turbo lag, it’s impressive to see how much faster through the exit of the corner the Porsche is.
Try as the Elise’s driver might, he simply cannot match the Porsche’s astounding performance. The supercharged 1.8-liter four produces 220 horsepower and 180 lb/ft of torque, which some might think would be enough to put the 1,984-pound Lotus on-par with the GT2 through the straighter sections of the track.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite match the torque of the GT2’s engine, and crashing over the curbs, braking later, and generally driving with twice the aggression can’t keep the black GT2 from streaking away. In fact, the Porsche seems much quicker into and out of the faster corners, where it seems to make better use of its front tires; it just doesn’t understeer as much. Whereas the Elise uses a featherweight chassis to perform, and it seems to have the edge in agility, the ultra-capable Porsche has all the bases covered. Even with the heroic demonstration by the man in the Lotus, it was not enough to best the all-conquering, turbocharged 911.