Chris Harris Drives… Sportscars: V12 Vantage S, AMG GT R, Porsche 911 GT3RS

Chris Harris Drives… Sportscars: V12 Vantage S, AMG GT R, Porsche 911 GT3RS


Harris is back with another compilation and this time he’s driving some of the best sports cars from the past few years. OK, so we’ve stretched the definition of sports car a little, from the 718 Boxster S – with it’s questionable cylinder count – to an Aston Martin with more cylinders than a Pringles factory, there’s a wide-range of road and track-based goodies going sideways, all with driver involvement front of mind. Series 28: The Online Geneva Motor Show: First Look: Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.

there’s no easy way to say this but porsche has fitted the boxster with a four-cylinder engine i know i know stay calm though porsche has form here it sometimes makes big changes to its cars that look like they might end in complete disaster but somehow they make it work but four cylinders had a turbo in a boxster even i’m worried this time this is a boxster s it has 350 horsepower and 310 foot pounds which means zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds zero to 100 and well under 10 seconds and 177 miles an hour all out that’s seriously fast there’s a little more weight some new suspension components and everything’s generally firmer than before this really is a very confusing car from where i’m sitting on the one hand porsche has undeniably made the foxster faster and probably objectively a bit better because the chassis comes alive a bit more with the extra torque and it’s just so fast and i can’t deny that for a turbocharged engine the throttle response is brilliant and the end result in terms of how it clips you up the road it’s very impressive you’re just waiting for the butt aren’t you there’s an enormous butt and that is that emotionally this thing doesn’t even operate on anything like the same level as the last car remember that lovely six cylinder engine that used to howl and wail and give you nine different sounds depending on where it was in the rev range all gone sorry lost forgotten in the past this thing is inert there’s so little to be had emotionally and that means you kind of have to drive it in a way that gives you the speed and that was never the case with the boxster so what we have here is a car that’s had a personality transplant and i’m not sure it’s a personality i necessarily like as much as the old one it’s gone from being this delicate sharp mid-engine thing to being a bit blunt i think this feels a bit m3-ish at times it’s gone from being delicate to being a bit of a thug the problems begin the moment you start the car because you initially think that sounds like a beatle then you think that sounds a bit like a subaru and then you get going you almost lose that flat four character it sounds like any other in-line four-cylinder engine which is so disappointing given how brilliantly musical the old six cylinder engine was but there are two different sound personalities to this car roof down i don’t really like the sound of it you lose any fun noise you of course got all this rustle up here and that’s not very enjoyable roof up it does sound a bit more angry there’s some more personality and of course porsche has tried quite hard to inject some more into it so with the sport button on or the sport manatino turned you get a lot more banging and popping but it is kind of falsified it isn’t real lovely noise as for the way it drives or being a porsche you can’t really fold it kind of the steering’s fantastic they’ve added more support into the chassis so it corners flatter but somehow the ride hasn’t deteriorated i can’t really fault the brakes can you see what i’m getting at here yes they’ve made the boxster worse but it’s still rather brilliant i just wish they hadn’t spoiled it if the obvious downsides to this new engine are a lack of accuracy from throttle response compared to normally aspirated motor and some loss of noise well there are some obvious upsides too first of all this thing’s now damn fast i mean stupidly fast if you owner came in gt4 and one of these comes up behind you i wouldn’t get involved secondly it has an effect on the chassis he thought they wanted to know how a boxy with a load more power and torque would perform and now we’ve got it i do feel a bit like the kid in the sweet shop who’s complaining of a tummy ache after the event because yes there’s a whole load more fun this one’s got a slippery diff and you can slide it around and it’s great great fun and it’s a bit of a yobo but i’m not sure if boxster should be about that i think it should be about accuracy and i’ve lost a bit of that accuracy particularly in the first phase of the corner where it understands a bit now which we didn’t before but the rest of it is so damn good the chassis really is apart from those niggles fantastic the brakes are fantastic the control weights are fantastic the cabin you can’t really fault it the new pcm touchscreen thing is superb i love the fact you can have a manual gearbox and of course it is supposedly more efficient the roof mechanism best in class and all in all a great little car just not quite as good as the one you could have bought last year just getting a bit of training in got some manual cars coming up gotta get that left leg ready for the clutch pedal the aston v12 vantages and the 911r are road cars they shouldn’t be driven on a circuit they should be enjoyed on the road so that’s where we’ll begin this test on a road a rather beautiful road now if i had 20 minutes i could just spend all of them being super excited about the fact there’s an aston martin with a v12 normally aspirated engine and a manual gearbox but i need to get over that and try and tell you what’s going on because much as i think the concept is brilliant of course it’s not perfect the good stuff well first of all the gear shift is positive i’ll give it that there’s some other aspects to it that are not quite right but to me it unleashes the full veto vantage s driving experience that just wasn’t there with the paddles i feel so much more in control of the car call it also gear factor this car has seven forward gears as a matter of fact with all that torque it needs about two forward gears but the reality is third gear is just wonderful here we go i’m gonna put it in third now we’re doing about 20 miles an hour and it just goes it just goes it just goes i’m not going to tell you how fast we’re going but it’s sufficient i love that surge and i love the way that these gear ratios work with the spread of power and torque in this engine because it’s just fantastic that engine all that power all that all that majesty it just sounds fantastic who needs turbochargers this thing just goes from zip all the way to 7000 rpm and it sounds well it really is a great great engine this is a very approachable car as well it’s quite delicate on the road you feel that relationship between what your right foot is doing and the amount of traction you have you can let the car just take little slides not even slides you just feel a suggestion of movement at the back the porsche is more rigid it doesn’t feel like that this car is a bit lazier everything feels a bit softer so your inputs are adjusted accordingly the steering is delicious i think in terms of steering feel if there is such a thing this car feels better connected than the porsche certainly there’s ample grip but you can unstick it in pretty much anything if you want to even fourth and fifth on some slip roads it’s got that much power and torque the cabin okay it’s getting old now but i feel cozy and comfortable i love the size of the car are you getting what i am sort of trying to tell you here i really like this car i don’t think it’s the best car aston makes technically or objectively but i do think that as an object to drive and to be in it’s the most exciting car they make it’s just whistling with enthusiasm it just wants to get going the whole time so i’m gonna let it go this gear lever then it’s not perfect the position of it is a little bit too far backwards for me maybe that’s just because i’m a bit simmering in the wrong shape but it isn’t quite right ergonomically the dog leg it’s a novelty but i’d rather it was just a normal layout i have to say but i get used to it this is not a gear lever that you don’t think about but i can flip that on its head because it’s a car you have to think about driving and i love the fact that when you first drive it you get it all a bit wrong and you don’t know where you are and then over time you learn it it’s a car that you learn it’s a car that encourages you to get better at what you’re doing it does blips on downshifts for you if you wanted to it even has a flat shift function that allows you to just dip the clutch and yank the lever back and it will do it for you so it’s a car that has some idiosyncrasies it feels like a modern interpretation of a slightly old very fast racing car that might not win you group desks and things like that but you know what it’s a very endearing thing to live with because it means that you’re always thinking so even here in a 41 hour zone i’m thinking about have i got the right gear how much do i have to push the lever it’s old-fashioned driving i really enjoy it and then when you want to open it up wow it’s a bit traction limited the 295 tyre is probably too narrow for the amount of torque the body shell doesn’t feel that rigid next to the porches there are lots of problems with this car but as you’ll find in a minute when we take it onto a circuit and let it dance around it has got so much personality it’s a sad thing to say that it probably is the last time we’re gonna see the v12 vantage s we won’t see a normally aspirated aston martin again of this type and i think anyone that’s got one of these should be very very pleased with their purchase i think you must have read endless stories about this thing in advance it is the 911 r and for all it’s on paper brilliance do you not agree with me there’s a suspicion that it might just be the most over-hyped car of the last five years i mean everyone expects this thing to be mind-bendingly brilliant and i’m really keen for it not to be brilliant which means i’m massively disappointed because it’s wait for it brilliant yes how irritating but the raw materials are so good a gt3 rs engine this new six-speed new all-new manual gearbox with three pedals no wings no nothing a chassis design for road driving and not for ultimate lap times and yes what a surprise once again mr pointer and his team have made an absolutely fantastic motor car it’s a car that even at low speed is enjoyable to drive that’s the key to it you don’t have to be up it the whole time but when you are my lord i don’t know how much power you lose in the pdk transmission but this thing in the gears feels quicker than an rs it must be 30 40 horsepower more right i’ll gather my thoughts i’m getting a bit kind of frothy and excited about it because it’s so good let’s start with the steering um electric power steering four wheel steering is supposed to be totally corrupted and no good well when i first drove over 991 with electric assistance in 2011 i thought porsche had lost their minds five years later this is probably the best steering on any road car it’s incredible it’s so agile it’s so intuitive it really is as good as you could imagine it being in a 911 it’s fantastic the engine itself interestingly they’ve taken out a load of sound deadening to make it feel a bit more exciting the result is it’s quite gravelly and rough at low revs and the single mass flywheel that chunters away like a racing car they’re very mechanical raw noises i wouldn’t say they’re necessarily musical or pleasant the aston certainly is a nicer sounding engine but this thing once you get going it’s spectacular i’ll give you a little burp in a moment but for now let’s carry on talking because i like talking about this car the interior we’ve already seen that it’s masterful it’s just wonderful to sit in i can’t really find much wrong with it as a road car the chassis well they’ve softened it off a bit i just run it without the dampers in the stiff mode you know what it’s just about on the edge of what you can drive on a british b road so therefore it’s about perfect the way it accrues revs from five thousand to eight and a half thousand has to be felt to be believed it really does this is possibly the best engine and gearbox combination on sale at the moment i can’t think of anything i enjoy more it’s a car that you can use just like a normal carrera this is where porsche so down with their game when you want it to feel hardcore and special it does but he wanted to knock it in six and drive straight to nice it wouldn’t be a problem at all the carbon ceramics are fantastic on the road the grip from the cup to michelin’s is fantastic and furthermore when it rains you don’t fall off i mean again i’m going to scratch the old noggin and try and work out what’s wrong with it what’s wrong with the car what’s wrong with the car what’s wrong with it hasn’t got rear seats it hasn’t got rear seats that for me is a massive problem a huge problem portugal you’ve failed there are no real things now i know we agreed these were road cars but they’re so damn fast and i’m so damn curious to see what they do when the power overcomes the grip do we just have to drive them at angle the v12 vantage s manual is nothing more than a three pedal version of the paddle shifter the gearbox uses the same internals and power remains the same at a vast 573 horsepower it is now 2 10 slower from rest to 60 miles an hour like anyone gives a hoot having 447 pounds of torque is quite handy but then the little aston is a bit of a 1665 kilogram chubster top speed is 205 miles an hour it costs 140 495 pounds and best of all aston unlike porsche will actually sell you one it’s not an out and out track car but it does have a track mode for the dampers and a track mode for the dsc which i’ve turned off incidentally so let’s see what it’s like because these things are so fast you have to use them on circuit don’t you this is the bottom hairpin an angle seat and watch this third gear and i have to manage it on the way out because it wants to oversteer that’s how much torque there is engine revs out beautifully gearshift feels intuitive around here front of the car there’s a bit of understeer it’s on a p0 corsa tire but because you’ve got so much torque you can pretty much neutralize it anytime you want it does however have that age-old aston problem with those awful viscous differentials that just don’t seem to want to hook up so you have to be a bit careful with the throttle but otherwise one wheel does do a bonfire i don’t like that so much but it’s an accurate thing it really is and i love the fact that you just go up the torque and it just feels seamless brakes carbon ceramics all round really really good strong powerful brakes listen to that noise it’s a fast car too it doesn’t feel far because it’s not so energetic to drive you’ll see in the porsche that i can really get up it and grab it by the scarf of the neck this car you stroke along a bit more so you don’t use such violent inputs but you know what when you look at the results it’s actually going very very very fast indeed it’s just enjoyable it’s a great thing about aston they know how to make cars that flatter you and make you feel special listen to that noise anyhow i wonder what happens if we sort of throw it around a bit third gear yes it really is any angle you want this hairpin again third gear and you just give it half a boot and it’s around and because it’s a transaxle because it’s front-ended and rear-wheel drive the balance is just lovely i’m not going to do the really really fast one because neil’s sitting next to me and he might throw up we don’t want him to be sick do we car feels mega through here just nudge it in a bit of oversteer cars trying to go through and then of course the transition there’s a bit of a brutal there sends it and then it just goes back the other way the viscous diff may be a bit rubbish and sometimes stays open and sometimes feels asymmetrical and they get bad when they’re older but fundamentally this car is an absolute riot it’s easier to do this in the knees of the porsche i just think it’s wonderful fun and you know what i’m having more fun because i’ve got this thing to stir around too all in all the old style might be better this might be more fun than paddles i really do think so aston thank you for giving us a manual gearbox i thoroughly appreciate it all is well with the world if you like your fast 911s you’ll love the details on the 911r it’s dripping with old school references like houndstooth fabric and even green instrument needles and digits it weighs just 1370 kilograms so the 500 horsepower and 339 foot pounds may look less than the aston but in reality it’s the more accelerated car you can even spec a single mass flywheel and remove the radio and air conditioning for the full lightweight experience oh you know it’s not a track car but to drive really fast you need to find a space that’s private and those are called race tracks so we need to come to a racetrack and that means i’ll talk about it sort of into being on a racetrack the engine wow the turn-in wow all in all it’s a more athletic car than that aston it’s just so good the brakes wow everything about this car just feels like it’s dialed into your synapses just imagine how you want a performance car to be the 911 rs kind of that car it’s just superb okay the front axle compared to g3rs doesn’t have quite the same grip when you turn in it’s a narrower tyre and it doesn’t have all the aero either so on a fast circuit it can’t quite live with the rs but it feels quicker in the intermediate gears and i just love the balance of the car what i’m doing here i’m doing that myself i’m healing and towing it’s allowing me to drive the car and ultimately it’s only as good as my input so my inputs are sharpening the while shuttle gear shift is really superb it’s quick it’s short but unlike some of the old rs’s it’s not too full of resistance easier lever to push and pull abs is just superb the traction control is just superb the stability control i mean again it’s quite difficult to find fog with the car which makes it quite difficult to talk around the lap so all i can do is tell you how flipping good it is oh and by the way can you hear the noises making because that’s his surprise surprise really really good oh i mean that’s driving that’s the essence of driving that’s why we all love driving cars oh wow anyhow the bit that we really need to do on the circuit is to let it move around but i can’t do this on the public highway because this is third gear and about 85 miles an hour yes and it feels so alive and so connected that’s where it’s a bit different to the aston the aston just feels like it’s a bit lazier this car i mean you’d swear it was flipping spherical bearings everywhere you just feel such a great sense of connection between your inputs and the cardboard the chassis all the power train everything you do is it’s kind of feels like it wants you to do it with full intention how do they make a rear-engine car do that i mean it and then you get to look at snowdonia ahead of you yeah i think that 911 are at anglesey even though it’s not supposed to be a track car is one of the best things i’ve done in the last 10 years it just keeps pulling feels so fast one thing one potential criticism i had before i drove it was well hang on a minute couldn’t they just gear it not to do 200 miles an hour but it’s so explosive in the intermediate ratios i think they had to gear it to that it wouldn’t be drivable otherwise yes it’s another masterclass from porsche this is the most alluring most intense road car aston has produced it’s a stunning end to the vantage bloodline but the 911r is one of the standout machines of the past decade it reminds us that porsche hasn’t forgotten what driving is all about every time someone tries to beat the 911 gt3 rs it only serves to remind us that porsche really is the king of the fast road track weapon category but the new amg gtr from mercedes is the most serious challenger we’ve seen for years and bmw’s m4 gts looks on paper like it could give the porsche a headache too let’s go and slide this is the amg gtr which is massively confusing because i thought all gtrs were nissan’s as you can see on first acquaintance limia riley this on a cold family is a real handful you have to be quite quick with your hands but when you get there it’s got some balance now it’s a bit slippery but earlier i drove this thing when it was dry and i was mighty impressed from the front of the car really really great front end grip like everything else in the class it’s got this cup 2 michelin which is so clever and so sticky but these super wide tracks on this car give it such a planted feel doesn’t take much steering long and you just turn the car in it goes there and it’s fast and it’s grip come back a bit further it’s got really good balance front to rear oh and the steering is just the right speed for the way the car wants to move so it’s quite slideable but also very very sharp and accurate you want it to be engine it’s just magnificent isn’t it it’s so powerful there’s so much torque from those turbochargers but then it wants to go at the top end as well i think what i find most impressive is that this is an easier car to drive fast than the standard amg gt and s i’ve not driven this new c version this is this is a joyous thing i mean it’s so clear already that for me this surely is going to be about this in the porsche i can’t believe that bmw can live with this thing this is a seriously fast car and it feels so flat as well i’ve got the dampers in the middle setting just feels super composed kind of butchers the road into submission the changes from gts to gtr are actually too numerous to list here but here’s some power is up to 585 horsepower boost is up from 1.2 to 1.35 bar wider wings cover 46 millimeter front and 57 millimeter rear track increases there are closer gear ratios a lower final drive rear wheel steering active front arrow a carbon prop shaft new springs and dampers here you get the gist this is a very very serious piece of kit and all that costs 143 000 which is strange because that’s what people are currently asking for a second hand bmw m4 gts is the bmw really good enough to justify that driving position really good steering wheel about where i need it i’m not sitting too low so i can see down the bonnet line this is some very very good work from amg i’m much more impressed than i expected to be this is a proper rival to the porsche rs i didn’t think i’d be saying that as for the poor bmw well my first switch for that car was a lot less than positive right now i’ll be amazed if you can get anywhere near this thing let’s find out now the weather’s changed a bit as you might have seen so i can’t tell you too much objective about what i’m doing right now but i can tell you about what it was like to drive earlier when it was a bit drier this is silly now in fact to do this and concentrate and talk at the same time might be problematic so what you need to know about the m4 gts is that i’m not a massive fan i think the cabin’s special i think it looks okay from the outside the gold accents maybe not what i want but i don’t really get it as a package because people are asking 140 000 pounds sterling for these you know over list price and i know they’re rare but this just gets absolutely launched by the mercedes and the porsche bmw has squeezed 500 horsepower from the m3s 3d to turbocharged six and it’s lighter than the amg even with the new water injection system and its tank in the boot but this is ultimately a three series shell there are lightweight materials everywhere the front splitter is adjustable there are way coilovers bigger roll bars a titanium exhaust and the roll cage is optional but you’d have it of course you would it feels too upright it feels too much like a saloon car the suspension doesn’t feel sorted at all it’s quite it’s jittery everywhere it doesn’t really want to absorb bumps but then it feels quite lazy as well so it feels weirdly soft but doesn’t feel supple and yes it lacks control so it’s a very frustrating package the engine the boost the way it arrives is really quite difficult to manage at times and you find it it just arrives like that oh my lord so of all the cars it’s the most difficult to drive but it’s not the most rewarding and it’s comfortably the slowest the brakes are okay in anything other than perfectly dry conditions i’d take an m3 30th anniversary saloon over this every single time i really would because i just think it’s a nicer car to drive i mean you can skid it about that’s all very well but it should be able to do more than that shouldn’t it it sounds good the gold roll cage is quite amusing but i expect so much more from this car i didn’t like it the first time i drove it and today hasn’t altered that opinion i just not their finest moment but the m2 is amazing the m3 saloon i love it just doesn’t work for me frustrating because it should do it should be the perfect car for me i should love this thing i should want to own one in these conditions it’s not on lethal yeah i think that’s enough i think actually that’s enough chris so this is the one they all want to beat and they have to be because the gt3 rs is the finest road going track tool that does it all isn’t it although sadly most of the ones that have been sold in the uk people’s carriage is not being used so people can speculate on them but that’s another subject altogether this car is a magnificent and this particular example has done 30 000 hard miles in the hands of idiots like me and it still feels tight xlg is a legend so what is it that makes this car so special well the weather today is terrible so it’s not at its best it has to be said because porsche’s struggle to make their front ends work at the best of times but this car just has got what you need so the front axle works that extra track width means we’ve got a very wide front tire so the car turns well the steering is the best here by a mile the amg steering is good and accurate and gives you a good sense of resistance when you put input through it the way it turns is just remarkable it’s got traction because it’s rear-engined and that massive rear tire which is straight from the 918 spider and then you’ve got that engine normally aspirated revs to well over eight and a half thousand rpm it’s just so exciting and you get more and more the higher up you go gearbox the best here the fastest changes listen to that it’s so exciting and part of the reason why i have to be critical of the gts is that this orange car exists the gt3 rs the one they all want to beat you know this car by now four lead to atmospheric flat six eight and a half thousand rpm lighter than the others massive wings wider tracks than a gt3 vents on the front arches it’s basically a racing car with number plates and if you’re serious about track driving it’s just about perfect it’s got the most aerodynamics of any car here you just know that you could pound around the nurburgring for a weekend and then just come home again and it would be absolutely fine and i think that’s part of its appeal is it’s just so robust but it’s so exciting can you hear that noise wow and yet it’s got air con it’s got bluetooth it’s got a decent hi-fi the amg runs this thing very very close in fact closer than any car i’ve ever driven against a gt3 rs of any type being i-97 but there’s an emotional aspect in terms of connection about this porsche that even the merc can’t match the normally aspirated engine is so important so is the steering so the way it looks it’s just immense there is even two years after it was launched the best car of its type merck well done bmw must try harder porsche still a daddy you

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