Porsche 911 versus BMW i8

My former paymasters at Autocar magazine continue to produce excellent new car features. Their latest sports car test of BMW i8 versus Porsche 911 Carrera 50* sheds more light on the data Ferdinand shared yesterday, comparing lap times around a California race track for our friend Jack Olsen’s 1972 Porsche 911 RSR hot rod, which runs a standard 1995 993 3.6-litre engine, to professional race drivers in a Porsche 918 and Porsche 911 50th Anniversary model.

Porsche 911 BMW i8 Autocar 1

Porsche 911 versus BMW i8

The 918 set a lap time of 1:23.54, while Jack’s car managed a 1:26.88. “This is beyond an eternity on a race track” was how one Facebook comment put it, but let’s put “eternity” back into context of dollars invested and remember these are road cars. Three seconds over a 90-second lap time is pretty close for an old 911.

Porsche 997 GT3 RS versus Porsche 991

My question was where would/will the 991 GT3 RS fit in? Jack pointed out that “the 997 GT3 RS ran a 1:33 with pro driver Steve Millen at the wheel, so the 1:28.53 for the 50th-Anniversary 991 model is very impressive.” Autocar’s test underscores this conclusion, as it pits a 911 celebrating 50 years of history against a sports car that has been around just a few minutes.

“The Porsche’s (PDK) driveline lacks the complexity of the BMW’s, but it is not shamed for power,” says Autocar‘s Greg Kable.”The 911’s naturally aspirated 3.8-litre flat six engine, mounted behind the rear axle, nominally delivers 395bhp at 7400rpm. Our test car is a US-spec model, and receives a power kit as standard, upping it to 424bhp.

Porsche 911 BMW i8 Autocar 2

“It can’t match the BMW’s torque, though. With 325lb ft at 5600rpm, it gives away a considerable 95lb ft…but the 911 is not gutless. Above 4000rpm, its naturally aspirated engine provides prodigious shove. But by then, the i8 has already benefited from its initial spurt of electric propulsion and is away down the road. BMW claims 0-62mph in 4.4sec, compared with 4.5sec for the Porsche. However, a constant, linear surge of energy right from the outset makes the i8 feel considerably faster.”

Porsche 911 Hybrid is Coming

While the BMW has that instant hybrid electric torque – torque you know will eventually find its way to a production 911 – the Porsche has something else. Once heavily criticised for terminal understeer in press-on driving, the new 911 has apparently tamed that shrew and passed it to the Beemer. Is this what makes the difference in lap pace compared to the 997 GT3 RS?

Jubiläumsmodell 50 Jahre 911

“The fluidity of the 911…is so pure and involving that it makes the i8 feel stifled and artificial. The Porsche displays a lovely balance that prompts you to keep pushing at the sort of cornering speeds that begin to trouble the BMW, and there is a compelling completeness to the whole car, even as you approach the limits.

“And then there’s the rest of the 911’s absorbing dynamic character: its superb body control at any speed, the outright grip it generates, the terrific poise when loaded through a quick corner, the traction on the way out, the well-controlled ride and the way that its electronic driver aids allow you to dabble in a spot of tail-out action. Even if you put the i8 on its optional wider and stickier tyres, I still doubt that it could match the 911.” Greg Kable is a fan.

The Moral: Play Nice

Yesterday’s point was don’t put old Porsche 911s in with other old cars: they can more than hold their own when the going gets tough. While BB2 beat the Anniversary 991’s lap time around a California race track, the gap between the two is not “beyond eternity”. It’s just an interesting benchmark and talking point.

Today’s point is don’t do the “life was better when I was a boy” thing and look down on all new 911s. When a 50 year-old concept beats the latest carbon fibre coupe for intoxicating chassis dynamics, its future is bright.

*Autocar material shared for information purposes only with link to original article.

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